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Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
User Voice: King of Social Media Engagement? Let’s Explore.

As we near the close of 2011 (really?!… already?!) we, the digital marketing set, start to look forward to 2012 and make plans for improving what we set out doing this year. Reviewing year end campaign performances, battling for increases in budgets and strategizing new plans are just a few of the things that take up a good portion of our days. Part of those strategy conversations revolve around social media, as they most inevitably would.

But I’m not writing here to talk about how or why a business should engage with social media – there are many articles that speak to those points, from use in a marketing plan for fashion designers (read here – hi Macala, great post), to how social media affects SEO (read here) and even how to lay out a strategy for it (read here).  What I’m writing about here comes in to play when we start to talk about success metrics for social media.

Generally speaking, there are certain key performance indices (“KPIs”) that social media folks like to measure, number of likes or followers and number of re-tweets or shares with friends. These metrics, to me, are fairly superficial and surface-level.  They mean virtually nothing as a metric on their own.

Here’s why.

I don’t think these current engagement KPIs go deep enough to properly measure what they set out to do. (great article on measuring social media ROI)  Think for a minute about how engaged you have to be to like a picture. Not really all that engaged; you look at it, say to yourself i like that, and then click a button. Then you move on. To click a picture and like it shows engagement, but it’s on the lower end of the engagement spectrum. Low effort, low quality. What does the opposite end of that same spectrum look like? High effort, high quality?

Which brings me to my point – doesn’t it mean more to a brand when someone contributes (such as a wall post or a sincere blog post comment) on their own accord and actually have to think, write, re-think and well, generally be present and engaged with what they are doing? So why then, do we measure these trivial engagement facors? Wouldn’t User Voice be the single greatest KPI a brand could ask for?

Measuring quality can be difficult. To properly measure engagement is to measure a level of feeling, of emotion. But, how does a brand do that? The more someone relates to a brand (their feelings about that brand), the more one could/would do to be part of that brand – the more effort a customer or user would put into their engagement. So wouldn’t it suffice that to better measure the amount of feeling or emotion one has for a brand be to analyze the level of effort for the engagement? In other words, how much effort did the engagement take?

Take for instance the team over at UserVoice. They have created a platform that is social and easily integrated into a website (full disclosure: SD is redesigning the website for OceanElders that incorporates the technology) and probably requires one of the highest levels of engagement from a user from all the social mediums I’ve come across to date. In the case of the SD website redesign, visitors to the site engage in ocean awareness and protection conversations, pitching their thoughts and concerns to a community of like-minded individuals whom they’ve never met. They aren’t clicking a button after looking at a picture of a fish, they aren’t just sharing what someone else posted to their friends – they are involved in the conversation. They are the conversation. They are engaged.

Think about how impactful, how benefical, this would be to your brand – to have someone talking on your behalf at that level. I for one will be considering this when I strategize my client’s 2012 plans and success metrics. Perhaps you might too?

Am I wrong on this? Let me know your thoughts below.

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