So of course, I Googled the word.
One definition of "engage," from Dictionary.com reads: "to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)," which, I think, would be the classic definition we think about when we think about social media. But I prefer a secondary definition they give: "to attract and hold fast."
This second interpretation, I think, is what we as brands strive for in our social media efforts. And so it cannot be measured in numbers of fans or followers. It cannot be measured in uniques or web site visits. It has to go deeper.
A successful social media account is one where those who interact with the site lead the discussion. When I look at a Facebook page, I look not at how many people interact with the page, but at how many discussions are led by the readers. When moms start a thread for every two or three started by the brand, engagement is starting. When moms post a question and everyone wants to post their comments, then the Facebook page is about the fans and not about the brand...which is really where we want to go. Because moms see themselves not as "fans" of a brand, but rather as fans of the brand image.
I'll have to repeat that in a slightly different way. Moms are not fans of a brand. Moms are fans of the way a brand makes them feel about themselves. When a brand meets a need a mom has, she is a fan of a brand. Often, as anyone who is a mom can tell you, that means she feels that she has met the needs of her family or her personal needs that help her to feel better about herself and therefore be a better mom.
As marketers we all know this emotional connection that moms have to brands and over the years, we have all realized that our best insights into our consumers come from personal letters, chance meetings and in focus groups. And, social media gives us, perhaps the best way ever to have those insights available all of the time. You know you have a successful Twitter account when your social media team has a hard time keeping up with DM's and @mentions. Your company blog has engaged your audience when your team doesn't have to dream up blog posts, but instead has a hundred ideas from readers. When you search for your brand on YouTube, the number of videos on your brand's channel is dwarfed by the number of videos made by moms that love your brand.
So next time you measure your social media efforts, measure not what you do for your brand, but rather what the moms who love it do.