What is social media engagement and why it should matter to you

by Katerina Petropoulou, posted 2 years ago
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Even though its usefulness as a metric has been argued, social media engagement still is one of the main metrics specialists and marketers turn to, to define the impact of social media marketing on their brands and evaluate their activities.

So measuring engagement on social media still matters; the question is why, and how you should measure it.

What is social media engagement

Social media engagement is basically any type of action people take once they are exposed to your content and the way they interact with it. This means that engagement is not necessarily one unified metric but instead, it is based on different actions (for example, clicks, shares or comments) and levels of interaction depending on the effort required on behalf of the audience and the impact of the action on your brand and marketing.

In a way, engagement can be divided into three main groups of actions: applause, conversation and amplification. Each of these categories incorporate different types of metrics and represent different levels of interaction.

Applause 
incorporates are actions like likes, favorites and plus ones that can be considered a simple, low level of engagement in the sense that they require a small effort on the part of your audience, but also have a relatively small impact on your brand.

Applause actions indicate that your post was appreciated and well received by your audience but it didn’t necessarily trigger a deeper or more meaningful action such as a click, a share or a comment.

Conversation
refers to types of actions such as mentions and comments and in a way are a medium level of engagement in a sense that these actions require a relative effort on behalf of your audience and could potentially have a medium to large impact on your brand given that they could trigger discussions which you can be part of.

Amplification
describes actions like shares and retweets. To me is the highest level of engagement, and I will explain why. Even though a retweet or a share do not necessarily require much effort as they’re just a matter of a click, they are meaningful as social actions.

People see sharing content on social media as a way to appear useful to others and at the same time they feel that sharing certain content helps them define their personality and profile, online. In fact, 70% of people share content on social media so that they can bring attention to issues they care about and stay in touch.

Therefore, retweets and shares in a way define the people who perform these actions and share your content with their audience in a away that communicates the fact they indirectly endorse it or in a certain sense align with it. With that being said, the impact of amplification can be significant to your brand as it contributes to brand awareness and boosts your visibility allowing you to extend your reach to new audiences.

[Tweet “Amplification is the most meaningful form of #SocialMedia engagement.”]

Why measuring engagement still matters

Ignoring social media engagement altogether when evaluating your social media efforts implies you taking the risk of missing out on some important insights and information on your audience. So why measuring your social media engagement still matters? Here are a few reasons…

It gives you an overview of your community

Social media is all about community building. Therefore measuring the level of engagement on the social media platforms you are active on, provides you with an overview of how engaged your online community is, if they are responding in any way to your content, who your most loyal followers are.

[Tweet “Measuring #SocialMedia engagement provides you with an overview of how engaged your community is.”]

It helps you gain perspective on your marketing goals

In most cases, Social Media are either directly or indirectly connected with your marketing strategy and goals. Therefore, measuring your social media engagement is yet another way of evaluating your marketing efforts. After all, there are very few marketing campaigns today that do not have a social media aspect. Either with a simple Facebook post or even with proactive social media advertising, brands tend to bridge the gap between offline and online marketing and treat social media as another cost-effective marketing channel.

[Tweet “Measuring #SocialMedia engagement help you gain perspective on your overall #marketing goals. “]

Engagement is the entry point of your sales funnel

It all begins with brand awareness and social media can be a great tool for creating awareness around your brand as well as generating traffic and referrals. Therefore social media can assist greatly to introduce potential customers to your sales funnel and engagement metrics are an indication of how many people enter the funnel, ultimately becoming customers and brand advocates.

In other words, when social interactions are high, visits to the corresponding websites tend to go up as well. It appears that when social media users are most engaged with a brand, they are also more likely to visit the brand’s site.

Sales funnel

[Tweet “Social Media are the entry point to your sales funnel. “]

It allows you to reflect on your existence

Ok, measuring social media engagement will not help you reflect on life existence but it will definitely help you reflect on your existence on different social media platforms. The fact of the matter is that not all platforms are for everyone. Given that the audience growth doesn’t tell the whole story, how else would you be able to reevaluate your presence on a certain social media platform if not by tracking engagement?

[Tweet “Measuring #SocialMedia engagement helps you reevaluate your presence on a certain platform.”]

It is the first step to improving your content strategy

How do people respond to your content on social media? Measuring social media engagement is one of the ways to evaluate your content strategy, identify the types of content that perform best and which audience needs or questions your content can provide answers to.

[Tweet “Tracking of your #SocialMedia engagement, is the first step to improving your #ContentStrategy. “]

It can help with split-testing your marketing

Split testing on Social Media and monitoring social media engagement can help you gather valuable information about your audience and their engagement with your brand in real time and at the same time make use of the insights you gather for other aspects of your digital marketing efforts such as email campaigns and content marketing.

[Tweet “Engagement metrics are the ones to decide the winner of your split tests on Social Media.”]

Which engagement metrics really matter and how to measure them

As I explained at the beginning of this post, social media engagement is not necessarily one unified metric but it rather consists of different types of actions that represent different levels of engagement. The different types of interactions have a different weight, based on their level of engagement. So based on this information, let’s see which social media engagement metrics are important to measure.

Applause rate per post

This one is easily calculated across social media by dividing the number of favorites, likes or +1s by the number of social media posts within a specific period of time. For example, for Twitter, say I wanted to calculate the applause rate of my tweets during the past week, I would divide the total number of favorites (in my case 8) by the total number of tweets I sent during the week (that would be 10 for me). So my applause rate for the past week would be 0.8.

Applause rate

Conversation rate per post

Your conversation rate is defined by the total number of mentions or comments divided by the number of social media posts over a specific period of time.

Amplification rate

Your amplification rate is perhaps the most important engagement metric as it suggests brand visibility and awareness is the total number of retweets or shares by the number of social media posts.

Clicks and visits

This is another important engagement metric to measure in order to identify the traffic your social media activity generates. Keep a close eye to your Google Analytics dashboard and monitor visits for each of the messages you post across all social media platforms.

Depending on your marketing goals and specific marketing and social media campaigns that you might be running from time to time, the engagement metrics you focus on obviously differ. If for example you are running a promotion through Twitter, tracking conversions on top of everything else is very important.

Qualitative metrics

This part doesn’t necessarily have to do with numbers but it’s more of a qualitative approach on your social media engagement analysis.
Often times, people reach out to you on social media with comments, feedback, ideas or issues they might be experiencing. It is important to keep track of these messages in order to identify any emerging patterns but also use this information to report this first-hand input back to others in your company.

Total engagement

While breaking down your total engagement rate by type and level of engagement gives you much more perspective on how engaged your audience is, calculating the total engagement for a specific period of time is important.

Your total engagement rate on every platform is calculated by the total number of interactions (likes, shares and comments on Facebook, retweets, mentions and favorites on Twitter and so on), divided by the total number of posts shared on each platform.

For Twitter, you can even use this information to decide when it is the best time for you to tweet. For example, checking my Twitter interactions for last week, I see that I scored high engagement last Wednesday which probably means that Wednesdays at 5 pm is a good time for me to post content on Twitter and boost my engagement rate.

Interactions feature

Conclusion

In any case, as your brand evolves so will your marketing and social media goals and therefore the way you measure engagement will change. What is important to keep in mind is that you need to measure the metrics that make sense to your brand to spot trends, decide where and when to make changes in your strategy and improve your tactics.

Now over to you! Do you find social media engagement important for you? Which metrics do you focus on?

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