Effective content is engaging. To cut through the noise, creating engaging content is the only way to keep your customers interested, excited and loyal. Social media has widened the arena for creating and delivering engaging content, but it has also made measuring its success more difficult.
What is “engagement”?
Engagement describes the connection between a brand and its customers, facilitated by a marketer leveraging content with social media, web design, advertising or any other communication or publicity. The deeper the connection, the stronger the relationship is between audience and brand. This connection can manifest as an audience clicking on a business’s assets, reading its content or interacting with its posts.
Brand investment in customer engagement ranges from:
- Personal interaction, messages and shares – like Lindy Bop re-posting pictures of customers in their clothes, or companies using polls to ask for their subscribers’ or customers’ opinions
- … to broad, daily minutiae – like short responses from brands to every customer comment on social media
- … to fun or inspirational online marketing movements
- … to all the above.
What does engagement look like in 2016? How has it changed over the years?
In recent years, “engagement” has become considerably more dynamic, and harder to measure, largely because customer expectations have changed. Technological advances have allowed brands to reach users more effectively, and in turn, customers have begun to expect a deeper, more personal communication of content.
An engaged audience usually includes some or all of the following:
- Brand evangelists
- Responders and participants in the conversation
- Loyal customers or clients
Social media partially changed what engagement means, and how it might manifest. During Facebook and Twitter’s rise to social media dominance, many marketers and analysts mistakenly relied on built-in social network statistics, such as comments or follower growth, to gauge how well they were engaging their followers.
However, basic social media metrics have decreased in value. What might have passed for user engagement in 2011 doesn’t anymore. Likes, shares, comments and even followers are less important in 2016 than ever before – “real” engagement comes from great content, and creative ways of reaching the most qualified readers.
How do you measure engagement?
Though ROI is ultimately the goal for all brands, looking for clear signs of a strong return when considering brand engagement is not effective. To help define your audience engagement, some of the most important questions to ask when analyzing your campaigns are:
- Are users excited about your content?
- On social media, are users interacting with you?
- Who shares, likes, comments on or tags their friends on your content or posts?
- Are customers interacting with each other on your social media?
- Who links to your content on their site?
- If they don’t link to your site, are they quoting you, recommending you, writing about you?
- Who spends the most time with your content?
- What are the bounce rates?
- Where do they exit to?
- How often do they convert?
- Where did they come to your site from?
- Who returns to your site?
- What percent of users come back to your website?
- How long does it take them?
- What is their journey through your site?
Measuring engagement is different for every company, as each has a specific audience with unique goals and pain-points. Audience growth, sales and conversions still matter, as they are so closely tied to your ROI. However, as the venues and options for reaching and engaging your target audiences expand, the metrics for success are wider. The goal of engagement is to turn your audience into lifelong customers and brand evangelists by including them in the conversation, and making a strong connection through your content.