When marketers consider their future social media efforts, regardless of the platform, increasingly the discussion is centered on “value beyond the like.”
Brands now realize simply generating likes or follows isn’t the direction they should be headed. From the organic reach conundrum to building advocates or simply addressing the brief window of visibility of the content they produce--all of these goals require new ways of improving the performance of their promoted content as well as building value and relationships with their fans.
The first turn is usually toward improving “engagement.” I used quotation marks because, for all the talk of “we need to improve engagement” that has run through countless marketing strategy meetings, defining what that means puts many in a quandary. The variety of definitions and metrics can be as complex as you want to make it. However, if you keep in mind the nature and environment of social media and true business focus with straightforward goals–building and leveraging social relationships, increasing content reach, and increasing the effectiveness of your marketing dollar–you should be on the right path.
So what elements go into determining who is socially engaged?
• How are they engaging? There is a difference in the value of each type of social media interaction. If somebody simply likes a post, value exists. It increases viral reach as some of their friends will see that the person liked the post, and it can increase the organic reach within your community. If more people like it, more will see it. If people comment on a post, there is value from both a feedback standpoint as well as any engagement with their comment–understanding how people like or don’t like what they say. Of course, the share, the retweet--these implied endorsements provide the most viral reach.
•How often are they engaging? Another element of defining engagement is: How often is someone interacting with your social content? It’s not a huge leap to say if somebody interacts with content more frequently than another person, the person is more likely to continue that trend. When looking at your brand’s social media community, understanding the frequency of interactions plays a key factor.
• How recently have they engaged? There are many applications for the recency effect–essentially saying people remember the last item in a set. It’s an indicator of purchasing, interaction, and other elements. But socially speaking, “what have you done for me lately?” holds true. A like yesterday is worth more than a comment 60 days ago.
These definitely aren’t all the criteria, but when brands and agencies look to first identify who is engaged, this is a starting point. Understanding the value and weighing of each of those factors is the start of analysis to providing the best audience of truly engaged fans in a social media community.
After you’ve defined who is truly engaged with your brand on social media, then comes the “OK, now what?” moment. The solutions to make your social more effective from there are countless--building advocates, test marketing, improving engagement rates, increasing reach, driving off-network behaviors. But it all starts with having the audience that provides you the greatest chance of success.