Engagement Decisions that Matter on Social Media Platforms

The ability of businesses to “engage” customers and prospects is the first step along the road to making a sale. The length of time required to make the sale depends on the type of product or service the business offers. Sharing content with people on social media platforms is one very important way to extend the reach of your content marketing. However, few businesses – particularly small businesses – can afford to invest in

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Just because I sniff around a plant, don’t assume I am engaging it.

content production and marketing and use social media to extend their reach without some measurement of effectiveness. It is, therefore, important to define “engagement decisions” that matter on social media platforms.

In a previous post, we shared findings of a study of “engagement.” One of the essential characteristics of engagement is a decision. Your business must decide what kind of decision will be considered indicative of engagement. What must a consumer do on a social media platform to interact with your content and make a decision that qualifies as “engagement?”

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Level 1: At the lowest level, engagement is measured in terms of the number of Facebook likes. It is also measured on various platforms as number of fans or followers. Before you decide to base your measure of engagement on this measurement level, consider the number of people who will “Like” a business to get a coupon or to enter a contest.

Level 2: At the next level, engagement is measured by the number of re-tweets or +1s or shares with a friend.

Level 3: At this level, engagement is measured by the number of people who read your content and share it on a bookmarking site (digg, delicious, reddit, stumbleupon)

Level 4: At level 4 engagement is measured by the number of people who visit your site and remain to read at least two or more pages of the site content.

Level 5: Engagement is defined and measured by the customer making the decision to provide personal contact information in order to access a report, white paper, or e-book. Subscribing to a newsletter, blog or RSS feed is often viewed as equivalent.

Level 6: At level 6 engagement is defined and measured by the consumer requesting information about your products/services and/or your company. Level 6, thus, represents a higher-level decision to connect with your company or a further step toward a purchase.

We believe engagement requires a one-to-one exchange of information or an actual conversation. Forwarding content, re-tweeting a post, following and liking are only marginally interactive. If your content drives a consumer to your website, you have a response to your content. However, until there is a substantive exchange of some kind, we do not believe “engagement” has occurred. Until the consumer requests something from your business, typically providing contact information in exchange, consuming your content does not necessarily indicate “engagement.”

We believe engagement occurs only when the consumer requests product-specific, problem-specific, or company-specific information from a business. This might be a request for spec sheets, for a call from a salesperson, or for customer testimonials or endorsements. The five preceding steps along the road to purchase absolutely should be measured and analyzed in order to understand the purchase path and produce appropriate content for other consumers.

All of the steps leading up to specific requests for information from consumers should be considered touch points leading to engagement, but they should not be confused with meaningful engagement with your company. Measuring what leads to engagement is vital – it enables you to craft the specific content that will help others travel the road to purchase. Don’t waste your time or energy on insignificant measurements like number of fans or followers. Instead, identify the touch points that move people closer to engagement, and measure them. Use the information to analyze the type of information that moves them to the next touch point.

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