How valuable is your engagement?

by Shadi Afshar 21 Oct 2011 Blog Post

Is the metric of engagement used so frequently in social media that its meaning has become blurred?

Engagement has essentially become the holy grail of social metrics with various definitions of measurement. In fact, when brand executives are asked what their goals are for a Facebook page during interviews, many, if not most, state that they want to build engagement with their consumers. But do brands even know what they want their customer to engage ON or is it just the right thing to say?

Countless online articles, like this, offer steps on how to improve engagement with fans or rank brands in order of “Most Engaged.”  Engagement, today, is mostly measured by the number of Likes, Shares and Comments posted to a brand’s Newsfeed Update. Brands such as Coca-Cola will score extremely high on this metric just by saying something very simple to millions of fans.

This is definitely a form of engagement, but is there a smarter way to talk to your customers and gain more useful insights?

Brands should establish a more distinct and focused purpose for their pages, such as exclusive deals, customer service, or product awareness, in order to deliver smarter content strategies that are valuable to both the brand, as well as the customer. For example, retail companies, especially in the apparel industry, have a great opportunity that may have never existed before – they can get customer input before buying their inventory.

Bergdorf Goodman recently posted the Burberry runway show on their Facebook page and offered fans a chance to be a buyer for a day, something every fashionista would love to be a part of. Based on the number of Likes on a picture, that item would be included in their online catalogue.

Bergdorf not only made their fans feel like they were a part of the buying experience, but the luxury retail company also gained extremely valuable insights for their next buying process. Imagine the potential impact on inventory, data and even sales, if more buyers leveraged their social networks in creative and “engaging” manners.

Brands invest hefty time and money in order to increase the number of comments to a post and measure higher in engagement. While they may gain some level of engagement by asking their fans about their weekend plans, there is a smarter and better way to develop a more valuable relationship with the consumer. Brands should FIRST define their goals and THEN create a content strategy that supports those goals.