Jun 25, 2020
When you think of social media, what you use it for, and what it was originally intended for, what comes to mind?
I bet it isn’t advertising (although, some would argue that is exactly what it was intended for)… It is most likely social media engagement, meaningful connections, and people.
That is, after all, why it’s called “social” media.
While engagement is important for many people on social media, is it the same for agencies trying to deliver on a client’s campaign?
As advertisers, should we measure the success of a campaign based solely on the engagement our ads receive?
What Is Considered Engagement On Social Media?
Social media engagement can be classified as measuring the amount of public likes, comments and reactions a post receives. Engagement has long been measured as a metric used to determine a campaigns performance.
As we progress further into the digital age, the way we look at metrics and campaign performance changes.
Now, many advertisers do not use engagement as a metric for success because the amount of likes a post receives does not directly correlate to the number of sales.
With that being said, should you even focus on the engagement levels your post receives?
How Important is Engagement on Social Media?
No matter what the goal of your campaign is, engagement will always be important, just not necessarily in the way you may think.
Its an inescapable truth that consumers are paying attention to their social media accounts for as long as 2 hours a day.
Social media is more than just the number of likes you have on your Facebook page, although it does play into how your brand will be perceived by other online.
Having social media accounts offers social proof that your brand exists and is legitimate. If someone visits your page and sees high number of followers, likes and comments, thats the same validation to a consumer that a celebrity endorsement would make.
Social Media engagement also offers more of a marketing reach with fewer dollars.
Just think of a recent video you saw online that amassed a bunch of views. Some videos receive millions of views at a time and for advertisers, reaching that large of an audience would be very costly.
But thanks to social media, you can increase brand awareness fairly easily and for a relatively cheap price depending on the content. If just one person shares it, it can reach everyone in their network, and if someone in that network shares it, it continues to spread.
Social Advertising Is Evolving
As social has evolved, brands have discovered the infinite possibilities it offers. The brands that excel at social media understand that, yes while it is essential for advertising, it is also a channel for two-way communication.
A direct outlet to connect first hand with customers, while providing an opportunity to humanize their brand.
Research shows that customers prefer social care as their top choice for customer care. If they are unhappy about something, they can tweet at or message you right away.
If they are ecstatic about something, they can rave about your product/service to their friends and family.
Conversely, if a brand is not there to catch a complaint and resolve it, a consumer can drag their good name through the mud, we see this all the time, especially in the service industry (hello Facebook township groups!)
How Engagement Helps Brands
By engaging with customers on social, brands can listen to what their target audience is saying straight from the source.
What are their needs, wants, and interests? How can they help solve their consumers’ problems, or how can they improve their service or products?
So why do brands, on average, take 10 hours to respond to a customer when they complain on social media?
“As soon as customers decide to engage with your business on social media, they’re essentially putting trust into your brand to solve their problem.”
By not engaging, you’re not only telling your audience that you’re not present, but that you don’t want to provide additional avenues for communication.
Why Some Advertisers Are Against Engagement
On the other side of this conversation, industry leaders, and Facebook itself argue that engagement has practically zero correlation to ROI and business objectives.
There are many reasons for this, but the one that consistently comes to my mind is that not everyone who is on social, reading content and scrolling, is engaging with the material. Regardless if the social media content was targeted and personalized for that specific audience, some people do not engage with content as much as you would hope.
I like to call them lurkers, but that is probably not the politically correct term.
Social media engagement should not be the only metric used to determine the success of your campaign. If you really want to increase your social media ROI, there are a few others ways to do so.
Mark Schaefer puts it plain and simple in his blog Social Media Engagement is a Lousy Metric, “To be clear, nearly everyone who hires me is a fan of some form of my content — this blog, The Marketing Companion podcast, my marketing books. But almost no one has ever engaged with me on social media. The strangers are the ones who are sending me the paychecks.”
What this statement tells us, is that engagement, while not a business strategy by itself, can be a very important piece of the puzzle in the big picture.
As marketers, we should be trying all efforts to boost our overall business goals, engagement included! How can social engagement contribute to our success?
Some examples of goals that engagement can aid are; customer or client acquisition, brand awareness, recruiting, and B2B relationship development.
Thinking of Engagement Objectively
If we think of engagement in terms of our objective, it can help us hone in on where we put our efforts.
Liking, commenting on, and responding to every single engagement can be daunting. Knowing which interaction would be most valuable to the big picture can give a clearer vision, as well as save us from wasting resources, time and money.
Have a game plan. Which type of actions and comments would be the most valuable to your business?
Some things to consider when you begin to build an engagement plan are:
Where are you seeing the most engagement? On which platforms? You need to be where your audience is, not where you want them to be.
Be real with the amount of time and level of engagement your business can sustain. If you are doing it on your own, how much time in your day can be spent engaging before it hinders your real work?
What is your industry, how conversational are you, and how would that affect how much time is spent engaging? Will you need to hire someone, or will you have a dedicated time block each day? For example, if you are a ski resort, you probably have a ton of engagement. As opposed to a personal injury lawyer who may not have as much social engagement for obvious reasons.
The debate is hot and clients are consistently inquiring how likes, comments, and shares relate to their business.
What are your thoughts on social media engagement? Are we wasting our time on engagement or missing out on tremendous opportunities?