I hear the word “engagement” every day, multiple times a day. Engage! Engage! It’s starting to feel like when you say “cat” too many times in a row and it starts to sound nonsensical. Cat. Cah-at. Cat. Cat-tuh. Huh. Well, that’s a weird word.
There really isn’t another word that says exactly what “engage” means for social media. The word is built in to core social media metrics — engagement scores show you the ratio of interactions you get from users to the total number of posts you shared (after it’s divided by the total number of fans or followers you have).
For example, if you get 100 likes across 100 posts in a month, but you have 10 fans, your engagement score is 10 percent.
At The Starr Conspiracy, my clients are all enterprise software companies. My feet are firmly planted in the world of B2B marketing. I have friends and connections that run social or digital marketing for some pretty big consumer brands. Our conversations about social don’t get very far without highlighting the extreme differences in our work.
Most of my B2C marketing friends got runways of “let’s figure this social thing out” years ago. They got to experiment. They got to try new things with no initial hard-line expectations for results. They got budgets to play with. Big budgets.
B2B tech companies had a later start with social. Social was already getting comfortable and established when they were willing to try it. There was very little risk putting money in social at that point. We knew, pretty well, what to expect. That transferred into an immediate demand for results. By results, they mean conversions — even when they tell you they don’t. In the end, it all comes down to conversions.
I’m not saying B2C social media is easier. Not at all. Where they have a flood of incoming conversation (that has an expiration date if they don’t archive or respond quickly) to deal with — and all of the positive/negative brand sentiment that comes with it … I have the challenge of little, or no, incoming conversation.
And for anything other than completely online stores or marketplaces, it’s actually easier to provide value in the B2B world for social. It’s easier to prove that a white paper download came from social and then track that person through the sales process than it is to prove that someone saw a status update in their Facebook feed and went out and bought a milkshake to bring all the boys to their yard.
So when my clients talk about engagement and they’re referring to the ability to measure interest in the content they share online, we have to level set a bit. Your engagement show will show you that with absolutely no work from either one of us. We’ll benchmark it … and measure whether it goes up or down. We’ll course-correct if it drops unexpectedly.
But what my clients are really asking for when they ask for an increase in engagement is an increase in something meaningful. And for most of them, they get meaning from conversions or leads.
So engagement has to mean something different for us. It has to mean your ability to get people to move with you from one platform to the next. Can you effectively engage people with content that moves them from the comfort of Facebook to your company blog? Can you get them to move with you from that blog post to a landing page? Can you get them to sign up for anything?
You can only have real engagement if you build trust (or influence, if we’re talking social metrics). They have to trust the content you share. They have to continue to trust you when they move with you to a second location … that means your brand’s voice has to be consistent and real.
There are a million other factors:
- The quality of the offer (the content you’re sharing — usually a white paper, ebook or a webinar)
- The relevancy of your audience
- The quality of the copy and creative throughout the process
- Your brand awareness going into the promotion
- I promise the list goes on
That’s what I’m there for. What I want the universe to do is create a new word that means “engagement,” — with the same applied connotation and weight of “loyalty,” “trustiness,” and “participation.” Let’s “truthiness” this shit.
I’m taking suggestions.