Over the past couple of years you’ve probably noticed that brands have been engaging directly with their customers on social media. For example, you may have seen memes of Wendy’s interacting in humorous ways with people on Twitter, or noticed that the Walmart page on Facebook is responding rapidly to peoples’ questions.
Obviously, if you’re running a social media campaign, you’re going to need to evaluate its performance: that’s where metrics come in. But are metrics still all about likes and shares? The answer is a big fat “no” – the metric you’ll want to look at in 2020 is engagement.
What is Engagement? How is it Measured?
Engagement is just what it sounds like: a brand page with high engagement has users interacting with the brand, posting about it, bringing attention to it on their friends’ Facebook walls by leaving comments on the page, etc.
You may be wondering, though, how “engagement” can be measured since it’s not really quantitative On Facebook, it’s easy, as there is a metric labeled as “People Talking About This.” This metric gives you a solid number for users discussing your brand or product.
What’s a Good Number? How Can I Calculate Engagement on Facebook?
How do you know what a good engagement metric is? Well, in the case of Facebook, multiple experts advise taking the number of “people talking about this” and dividing it by the number of likes your page has – this gives you an idea of what “likes” are productive and which are idle (more on that below).
A range of 1 – 2 % is generally considered a “good” rate of engagement, though there’s always room for improvement. You want to know that people are engaging with the content you post because if they’re not, it means you’ll want to change your marketing strategies!
Reasons Why Engagement is More Meaningful Than Followers
Followers are all well and good: if you have a huge amount of followers, people will definitely consider this when they are evaluating whether or not your brand is worth their time.
However, we’ll argue here that likes and followers can be “good” or “bad” – the formula given above can be thought of as a way of calculating how many “good likes” your page has. Good likes and follows are those that are working for you, i.e., productive likes, people who actually care about the information you’re posting because they truly value your product.
Putting those Likes to Work!
Simply put, just because someone has liked or followed you doesn’t mean they are paying attention to what you post. It sounds counterintuitive but, if you have an Instagram account, we’re sure there are posters you pay much more attention to than others.
Engagement also translates to more followers: if people are discussing your brand, it means that it will be more visible to other people. Additionally, if people are engaging with it positively it creates a sense of trust.
Number of Followers May Not Stand Out
Many people are aware of the fact that companies can cheaply buy “followers” (in quotes because these are usually bots), so even having a high follower count may not mean much to the average customer.
The Internet has been around for a while now, so people have a good instinct for whether or not something is “spammy.” If your level of engagement is non-existent, it could make people think your followers are a bunch of bots – if not, it’ll make them think the followers are uninterested, which is almost as bad!
User Engagement Make Your Brand Appear Genuine
When it comes to companies and products, people appreciate genuineness. How many people are likely to look up online reviews for a business? That’s right: most of them. Why? The answer is that they want to hear real people with real experiences talk about your products – that is, they want authenticity.
If you build up a following that is happy to engage with you on social media, it sends the message to prospective buyers that people like and trust your brand. Engagement turns your small business into more than a faceless brand name by humanizing it.
How to Explain to Your Boss the Importance of Engagement
Say your boss is a little behind the times and still believes likes and followers are the only important metric. Well, they’re probably interested in increasing brand awareness on social media – we hope we’ve demonstrated so far that engagement is what drives brand awareness, not the number of followers.
Explain to your boss that engagement translates directly to visibility by generating shares and, on Facebook, appearing on the walls of friends of the person who comments.
As pointed out, likes don’t necessarily mean a lot on their own – if you look through pages you have personally liked in the past, you’ll probably encounter pages you liked 5, 7, or even ten years ago (if you’ve had Facebook that long) and have completely forgotten about. You could probably use this as an example to demonstrate to your boss that likes in and of themselves don’t mean those people are currently interested in your brand or offers.
Best Practices to Grow Your Engaged Social Media Following
So, how can you actually turn the knowledge of how important engagement is into action that will help build up your business? Customer engagement doesn’t mean just responding to their comments with a humorous quip, though this can definitely be useful. Let’s look at some best practices to build social media engagement.
Respond in a Timely Fashion to Customers
First of all, yes, you do want to respond to users’ inquiries. You should do this regularly: though it’s great to respond at all, even if it’s late, a relatively fast response will leave a much better impression and demonstrate to people that you actually care.
You could and should spend your time crafting a good response – think of your engagement with the customer as content that you’re posting because that’s essentially what it is.
Discuss Your Topic as a Whole
Secondly, it’s a good idea to discuss a topic, not just the products you’re selling. For example, say you’re selling artistic supplies. You want to discuss art techniques, art history, anything that would be of interest to people who want to buy your product. People like to voice their opinions, and getting a healthy conversation going is a great idea to drive engagement.
People are generally visually-oriented, so if you can include a great image of your product or a colorful infographic it will help spur engagement. If the weather’s particularly nice that day, you can just include a picture of the sun shining down on your storefront!
One of the best ways you can engage with users is by showing “behind-the-scenes” images or videos, demonstrating to potential customers the work and planning that goes into your products. Not only does this show them the sincerity of your brand, but it also shows the “human” side, too.
Clever hashtags are another great way to drive engagement – how many times have you seen a successful business campaign that was facilitated by a catchy hashtag?
Try not to be too cheesy, however – you don’t want a “how do you do, fellow kids?” moment (that is, you don’t want to appear as if you’re attempting to pander to young people, as that will undermine your genuineness in their eyes and result in negative publicity).
You can do things like offer people a discount if they share or retweet – clearly, this is a great motivator to get your message and brand name spreading throughout social media.
It’s even a good idea to give out free offers to some of your top followers – those who engage with your page most as a more direct way of encouraging engagement. You should also invite some of your top followers to join your mailing list so that you can start working those potential leads.
Overall, engagement is much more of a long-term investment than a short-term investment. You can think of it as hosting a party, where people come in and out and you engage with them, or planting in fertile, long-lasting soil, or whatever other metaphor suits your fancy!
It is all about quality over quantity – it is much better to have a smaller amount of followers who are buying your product, giving it positive reviews, and discussing it with their friends than a huge amount of completely idle followers.
If you put the effort into increasing engagement with your followers, you’ll start to reap some of the positive results and see for yourself why it’s so important.
Author –Marsha Kelly