In this article, you'll learn...
- How to boost engagement among your social Web fans and followers
- How to mold your messaging using engagement metrics
For the past couple of years, the rise of the social Web has been shaking up approaches to measuring the results of marketing and public relations efforts. But even as we begin to get comfortable gauging levels of activity around our brands on Twitter and Facebook, old paradigms are quickly creeping back in new forms.
In 2010, many community managers ran contests and promotions to try to increase their number of fans on Facebook, or followers on Twitter. Largely, these actions are proving to be worthwhile in broadening a brand's reach. However, counting fans and followers as key performance indicators amounts to little more than a rough attempt to define the size of the potential audience on social sites.
Although fans and followers receive messages from the brands they connect with via social media, they don't necessarily see all of those messages amid the torrent of discussions.
What we are left with, then, is the age-old problem of trying to estimate what percentage of the intended audience was reached. It's akin to being interviewed for The New York Times in a story that lands on page 12, and wondering how many of the paper's 740,000 weekday readers actually saw it.
The Case for Engagement-Focused Measurement
Fortunately, the social Web now presents us with far better options than simply replicating old approaches to measurement. That's because a new breed of engagement-focused metrics is available for use as an unprecedented feedback system on each individual mention of a person, product, or organization. Better yet, you can use this feedback system to accurately measure levels of interest in mentions of a given topic wherever they occur on the Web, whether in a tweet sent two minutes ago or a "brochure-ware" site last updated during the Clinton administration.
Engagement-focused metrics fall into two categories: those specific to social sites and those that can be gathered from the Web at large. The former category includes any attempt to share content or point other users to it within a particular social platform, including retweets, Facebook Likes, or votes on a social bookmarking site, such as Digg.com. The latter category includes indicators like inbound links and blog comments. Marketers with an eye toward search engine optimization have long sought to attract links from other sites to point users to their messages, leveraging the network of linked pages that has for years been used by search engines to deliver relevant search results.
The great advantage of these engagement-focused metrics lies in their specificity to a piece of content on an individual Web page. There's no need to guess how many of a site's visitors or page views might have seen a particular article or blog post when you know how many people chose to share it.