Is engagement a false priority?

Over the years we’ve been trained to recognise the importance of engagement as we craft marketing messages designed to trigger a like, comment or share. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm forced engagement as a priority; not only will an engaging update perform better but you will also be penalised with lower reach opportunities should you fail to deliver interactions.

The passive voyeur has been shunned, demoted to an insignificant proportion of audience segmentation as we pander to the like-friendly, comment-happy “advocate”. There’s already a concern that in an attempt to maintain reach numbers for updates to existing fans, there will be an overwhelming sense of desperation in your Facebook news feed as brands beg for an interaction and we’ll begin to see engagement fatigue.

I was somewhat relieved to see this article – Facebook’s View Tags Show That Views Can Be More Valuable Than Clicks. Sales speak louder than actions. And surely if this is the case for the path to purchase, this should be reflected in our always-on communications.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denouncing the power of engagement – encouraging a fan to talk favourably about your brand and product so that it shows up in the news feeds of their network can be an extremely useful tactic. But the false priority of engagement for the sake of engagement (or “winning” Edgerank) is going to weaken social marketing. The significance is supposed to be in the social context, not the ability to get a reaction from a witty update.

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~ by mandi bateson on November 22, 2012.

2 Responses to “Is engagement a false priority?”

  1. Interesting reading and I was really reminded of how one defines engagement. The ‘witty’ update is but one small modality. Across the FB pages I read regularly, engagement is far more about addressing consumer concerns/views/questions. So, an excellent engagement on a clothing site may be to offer a client additional garment measurements (beyond usual sizing information). And this is ‘excellent’ because offering this takes the social media staffer some time to achieve and to potentially co-ordinate with other staff. The consumer winds up feeling valued and important and that their potential buy is important to everyone (no matter how small it is). However, then the consumer is also offering the business an opportunity for business growth – to offer more than a competitor perhaps – and thus engagement is a two way street. Engagement in the end more about attitude. Like many consumers, I will jump onto a FB page and raise negatives over major issues (btw, I also ensure I put positives) and it’s the handling of these – the tone, demeanor and actual practical response – that creates engagement for the vast majority of consumers these days. I’ve seen online agency FB pages totally fail in this area – even while pushing out their expertise – whereas I’ve seen FMCG staffers who are far more used to public commentary, do extremely well.

    • Thanks for your comments Sue.

      I think Craig has summed up the predicament quite nicely in his recent blog post, these valuable interactions between brand and consumer seem to be the ones that are getting penalised over the more popular “like-bait” style updates that receive more engagement.

      This reinforces your point, valuable engagement is far more about addressing consumer concerns/views/questions. This is a quality measure, not a quantity.

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