Social engagement, as measured by Media Logic’s Retail Social Juice Index (RSJI), has dropped steadily since Facebook forced brands onto Timeline. And this week, the RSJI has reported some of the lowest averages since it launched last November. But correlation is not causation. Other reports, like this Wildfire study and this one from Simply Measured, suggest the flip to Timeline has boosted engagement.
Hmm… What do we know for sure?
When we look at the RSJI trend (average) over the last 120 days three things jump out:
Second, social disasters skew overall engagement. The two sustained peak periods, February 3 – 10 and March 2 – 9, correlate to the Komen and Limbaugh stories when a broad spectrum of sponsoring brand walls became battlegrounds.
Finally, at least for retailers, Timeline is at best a net-neutral relative to “natural” engagement. Though analysis of the top 100 retailers on the RSJI the week before the flip did show a very modest gain in engagement for brands that had switched early to Timeline and a modest loss in engagement for brands that hadn’t, the effect was so small that the shifts may have been nothing more than noise. Or perhaps we were measuring the fact that the brands that switched early were naturally the more active engagers.
So, do we think Facebook is concerned?
Here’s what Mike Rodgers, Media Logic’s user experience designer and one of the primary developers of the RSJI, has to say on the topic:
This latest round of additions that Facebook added for brands in large part was centered around increasing brand engagement by paying for it: paying for right rail placement, paying for sponsored stories, paying to get your messages in the feed. Pay, pay, pay. If this whole Timeline thing DOES decrease engagement with brands, Facebook will be laughing their way to the bank as brands are forced to pay Facebook to achieve the same or higher levels of engagement they used to get for free. Brilliant.
In fact, it’s exactly the same as what happened with “likes” on Facebook. A year ago (if we can remember that far back), every time you “liked” a brand or a page, it would show up in your feed. Facebook determines that these aren’t what users want, tells brands that this content is now a “sponsored story” and charges brands for it. Facebook has long guaranteed that it will never charge its users. It does, however, have a clear intention to charge brands as much as it can. All on its way to its IPO. … Zuckerberg!!!