Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How do you define Engagement?

Why do I ask this question? Lately, I have seen companies report the success of a social media campaign in "Number of Engagements". While these numbers do show some measure of results, I don't think they truly measure the engagement of the audience. This made me wonder what is actually being reported and led me to ask the question "How do you define engagement?"

The companies reporting success by Number of Engagements seem to define an engagement as any comment on a blog, forum, Q&A site, or social network. But is this really engagement?

The dictionary defines engagement as the act of engaging or the state of being engaged. Which is no help. So if you look up engage you get the definition: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons). I think the key work here is Occupy.

The word occupy implies more than a simple speed bump on a the social media comment highway. It implies that the engagement grabbed someones attention and that they paused, thought about and possibly even commented back before moving on.

Number of Engagements as it is being used as a metric tells me how many mentions a brand received in a particular space. It does not tell me how many times the audience was actually engaged.

Social media should be about true engagement, occupying a person's interests. Not just about how many times I can mention a brand. Truly engaging an audience requires real participation and real effort and if done properly, is very effective.

Photo Credit rmrayner.


Griffin Farley said...

I think the biggest issue is the definition of relevance or context? We don't know how to really define it in the media space. The measure that many of use is Time Spent with the experience as a metric for Engagement. We may not know relevance but if they spend a lot of time with it we can assume it might be interesting to them?

Christopher Kelly said...

An interesting piece, LJ. Invariably as people become increasingly wrapped up in a bid to determine the ROI of the social media, an appropriately defined 'engagement' seems to have been overlooked. Whilst many observers have written about the importance of engaging with customers of late, I have seen very little written in terms of what actually constitutes an engagement. Your post definately provides some food for thought.


LJ Jones said...

Thanks for the comments. While this will be a difficult task, I do feel that there is a need to define what truly constitutes an engagement. The difficulty is reporting large numbers of stats, where each instance needs to be looked at individually to determine whether or not it was actually engaging. I imagine that this will evolve much like website analytics has evolved into stats that can actually tell me something about the people visiting my website.

Andrew Peterson said...

Defining engagement is golden goose so to speak for the long term sustainability of growth for companies like facebook and twitter.

I feel that facebook could be very successful marketing Non-Profits and the Service Industry. Things where people interact with other people directly. However, companies such as Proctor and Gamble are probably wasting their time trying to convince you to be "Friends" with their Tide Detergent.