We Need to Rethink Our Definition of Engagement
Over the last week, you probably saw about 40 posts talking about how you can increase your social media engagement, a few infographics that give you fluffy tips to increase engagement. Let me guess - they asked you to use more photos, be more relevant, talk to your fans, be friendly, use short text snippets and all that garbage right? Cool.
What's the eventual goal of a marketing channel for a business? And yes, social media a definite marketing channel. The eventual goal of a marketing channel is to build awareness, and more importantly - drive sales.
Remember the last post you read about driving social media sales? It was something that told you to do more giveaways, run Facebook ads, get some media buying in place, incorporate sales posts into your social media content plan - pretty much everything that you've always been doing, anyway.
And there's the disconnect that we live with, as marketers.
Engagement, for me, should always be linked to sales or sales leads. Way too many marketing "gurus" offer engagement advice that gear your strategy towards getting more likes, shares and comments. Those "engagement" metrics, in my mind - are simply vanity metrics. They offer nothing to you in terms of business value, and agencies, brands and marketers need to stop thinking about them as pure engagement metrics.
In a recent interview on the future of Social Media Engagement, EdgeRank Checker's Chad Wittman said: "The key is to not get tied up in the novelty of another metric. Focus in on what helps your business the best, and figure out how to maximize the metrics that improve that goal."
Focus on what helps your business the best.
I understand the importance of assigning business goals to your marketing and social media plan - but eventually, those goals are going to be more about reach, shares, comments and likes.
Marketers need to stop thinking about engagement as those vanity metrics, and think beyond. It's scary. I get it. As marketers we've been conditioned to always thinking about getting those metrics in there, getting people to engagement with posts, worry about our page edgerank, worry about the amount of retweets and favorites we get - but we need to understand that all of these metrics are only a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Engagement, is a lot more important to marketers than sales, or increased sales.
Is this healthy?
Should we thinking about "engagement" as a business goal which in itself is such an ambigious term?
Brands, marketers and most importantly - agencies, need to sit down and carefully define what engagement means for them. Should engagement really be an end, or a means to an end? Should it be the eventual goal, or the medium that gets you to your eventual goal?
Here are the key ingredients for me, which should somehow "mesh" with your engagement metrics:
- Conversation: Measure ONLY around the brand/product/service - that talk about the positives and/or negatives of the company or the product/service itself. Conversation around how "cute" or "catchy" a campaign was shouldn't be the eventual "goal" of engagement, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
- Sales Leads: Does the engagement you're getting translate into people signing up with your service or registering their details with you? Are they open to receiving further correspondence from you from a channel other than social media? Are they willing to share their phone number or e-mail address with you and take this conversation forward?
- Sales: Plain and simple, dollars.
- Business Partnerships: Due to your content, your opinion pieces, your style of working and everything you talk about, are people reaching out to you to form a business partnership? Would they like to become your distributor/reseller/referral partner? This is usually a good sign. If someone is willing to attach their name to your brand, it speaks volumes about how trustworthy they feel you are.
For me, that's what engagement should eventually translate into. The world of likes, comments, retweets, +1s is dead. There's no point in chasing all those metrics any more. It's time to buckle up and think like a traditional marketer and contribute to the revenue of your company.
The marketing department has always been thought of as a profit generator the company, it generates sales and sales leads.
Unfortunately, the social media marketing department is being thought of as a cost center in various companies. It's time to change that notion.
Follow Avtar Ram Singh on Twitter