I’m a huge advocate of social media engagement, you’ll often hear me extolling it’s virtues, praising it’s organic potential and advocating an engagement first, content second focus. However while engagement is the holy grail of social media not all engagement is created equal and understanding this will result in a more worthwhile and rewarding social media presence.
What exactly is social media engagement?
It’s a link click, a photo or video view, a like or other reaction, a share, a comment/reply etc. it’s basically any type of action someone takes on your content on a social media platform.
Why is it so important?
There are 2 main reasons. Firstly, this engagement helps the algorithm (which all social media platforms have) decide who should see your content in the main feed when they log in to the platform. Different types of engagement have different ‘weightings’ in the algorithm, a like is easy but a comment or share requires more thought and effort and thus is of more value.
Secondly, and more importantly for small business owners in charge of their own social media, it provides an opportunity to build on the know, like and trust factor, to develop those all important human to human connections as after all people buy from people.
So how can it be that not all engagement is useful or valuable?
Social media engagement tends to be the most popular metric for evaluating social media performance but it doesn’t necessarily reap you any major rewards. A thumbs up for a post, a view of a tweeted photo, a share of your Instagram posts on Stories is in all honesty unlikely to make a sale.
A closer look:
Take this Facebook competition post* run by a small business and look at those engagement metrics - 694 reactions, 244 comments and 850 shares. Those numbers are pretty impressive, I suspect there’s many of you who would be ecstatic to have engagement figures like that on your Facebook page.
Now glance at the Facebook post by a local tapas restaurant**, the engagement metrics look disappointing in comparison, just 43 reactions, 60 comments and 12 shares. However, the quality of this engagement far surpasses that of the competition post.
Quality over quantity:
There is nothing ‘real’ about the engagement metrics for the Facebook competition post. The likes and shares are a prerequisite for entering and while the 244 comments which could, because they are not an entry requirement, offer more authentic engagement simply state, ‘Liked and shared’. There is literally nothing of ‘value’ for the business in any of this engagement.
If you’re anything like me you will have entered a competition similar to this example and have no recollection which brand or business was running it! I suspect that this competition despite its impressive engagement metrics bought very little, if any extra business to this company.
In complete contrast everything about the engagement on the Facebook poll post is genuine and valuable. There was no prize (or incentive) for ‘voting’ or sharing so the 337 votes and 12 shares came from people’s genuine reaction to this poll. The poll itself offered the restaurant insight and feedback into the strength of feeling and popularity of this dish as did many of the 60 comments. Within the comments there were also requests for dishes which had disappeared from the menu to return (more feedback), tagged friends suggesting lunch and someone saying they must try the dish (potential for extra revenue).
On a wider level this post will have made their audience feel valued and included in the business and their decision making processes. The comments created clear opportunities for deeper business to audience conversations, connections and bookings both on and offline!
Posting content that creates opportunities to connect with your audience whether that’s through a more serious poll as featured here or via fun and entertaining posts will bring you more rewards as a business than a post which just encourages superficial engagement. It is vital that you do NOT get hung up on the quantity of likes and comments etc. and focus on the quality of opportunities your content creates because at the end of the day it’s money in the business not likes on your post which really matter.
* I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t let you know that this competition is against Facebook competition rules AND because many shares are not trackable due to privacy settings could land you in hot water legally.
** If you’re ever visiting Hitchin in Hertfordshire, Los Reyes create amazing, out of this world, tapas dishes and is a ‘must visit’.