The Real Value Of Engagement
What qualifies as engagement? What doesn't? Can engagement really even be a measure of campaign success? When we get into subjective views and analysis of engagement, the value of what's really going on becomes fuzzy and more difficult to understand. But if we go back a few steps in the social media marketing process to the point of customer intelligence gathering, it's here that engagement delivers clear value before marketers even spend a dime.
What is engagement? It's a combination of two things: What/how people interact with each other and the content (viewing, posting, inviting, rating, etc.) and who/what causes people to change or define their behavior (how influential people and content are).
Engagement can clearly tell us where people are spending their time, how they are communicating and sharing with other people, and what topics they are talking about most. This is objective information that gives advertisers and publishers the facts about their audience. Knowing this kind of information, based on various levels of engagement, before spending money on social media marketing is a huge benefit to marketers.
Analyzing engagement provides guidance and intelligence on where marketing dollars should be spent. If Kellogg's notices that a large number of users on MySpace are engaging around their favorite cereal and that very few people are doing so on Facebook, it would make a lot more sense to spend more heavily on MySpace and know exactly where to place and direct that spend.
This tactic uses engagement to ensure results, not just to measure them. Advertisers have historically guessed, based on traffic numbers and click-through rates, how effective their campaign would be. Using a method centered around engagement takes the guesswork out of the process and gives detailed guidance for all of the elements that go into a campaign.
Marketers can also more effectively join the conversation this way. Let's say a large group of people on MySpace are discussing the nutritional merits of sweet-cereals with a generally negative sentiment. Based on this customer intelligence, Kellogg's could easily update their creative and message to address the specific issues their customers and potential customers are engaging around--perhaps highlighting the health benefits of Raisin Bran.
It's not just about targeting the right people, it's about getting to the right people with the right message at the right time, and the customer intelligence gained through their engagement can help advertisers identify these key factors far more accurately. After the fact, these sentiment metrics can be revisited to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign - this is especially valuable for brand marketers.
Marketers all acknowledge the importance of engagement but until the subjective aspects of the metric can be defined, it's the factual elements we can glean from customer engagement that will provide real value. Using engagement as a way to guide and predict your ad buy or marketing spend is a clear and simple method that leverages the customer intelligence that can be gained from engagement metrics. This intelligence can also help accurately inform the content and message of the resulting marketing collateral to ensure it resonates with the target audience.
Engagement is here to stay. Just like any new metric, it will take some time to take-hold and become fully standardized, but it is undeniably a multifaceted and powerful metric that can provide value to marketers throughout the marketing process--especially before it even starts.