Let’s get something out of the way: there is no static measure or definition of engagement. The word is amorphous, and inherently resistant to a hardline definition. Anyone that tells you that Engagement = X+Y with a  dash of Z mixed in is either deluded or deceitful. The definition cannot be static, by virtue of the varying metrics of success placed on a social media campaign by the brand running it.

In the past hour, while doing my daily blog crawl for news & notes, I’ve come across FIVE articles that address “Facebook Engagement” or “Driving Twitter Engagements” or “Pinning for Success”. All of them lost me within the first two lines of text. I’m done with articles that start out telling me “Social Media is here to stay!” or that “People are 10 Trillion times more likely to engage with PHOTOS on Facebook”. Really? This is still news?

Facebook-Engagement1You know why social media isn’t going anywhere? Because neither did the Internet. It makes life easier. Things happen quickly. Businesses can invest less and get more return. You know why photos work better than anything else on Facebook? Because people love pictures more than they love words. We are drawn to bright, colorful & evocative images. Beautiful sunsets? Sure. Beautiful people? Check. Beautiful ANYthing that doesn’t involve me having to read a lot of text in my Newsfeed? Like.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a lover of language. I read with fervor, and I love to write. But when I pick up my mobile phone & scroll through the Facebook Newsfeed, I ignore anything that looks wordy (read: anything longer than a line or two of text) and focus on anything that’s brightly colored, or a photo of someone I know (read: photos that contrast Facebook’s blue & white color scheme). Again, why is this news to anyone?

I pulled some data from a random sample of Facebook Pages in our Watchtower analytics database. Based on that, statistics prove that Facebook posts with under 100 characters generate ~75% more interactions than posts with more than 250 characters. (The sample set excluded religious & pubic figures, and pulls from a database of >12 billion interactions we’ve tracked.)

For some of our clients, “Engagement” is defined by impressions, rather than interactions. In some cases, interactions carry more weight. For others, it’s re-tweets, or deal un-locks. The point is that the points of data used to calculate “Engagement” are based on business drivers, not arbitrary – and often misleading – analytics provided by the big social platforms. Determining which metrics measure success for your brand is an essential part of defining the way you measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.

We are far past the point when social media can be ignored or marginalized. There are precious few examples of businesses and markets where social media isn’t an effective tool to add to your sales and marketing plan (Pandemic Labs knows several of them, and has advocated against social media campaigns to clients in the past). We must stop being enamored with social media as the “New Puppy“. It, like all other sales and marketing efforts, is beholden to the same metric of success as other campaigns: the bottom line. The addition of social media campaigns to your brand’s repertoire isn’t a box you must check; but considering where social media can further your business objectives is.

Written by Ed Gazarian
Ed is the Managing Partner of Pandemic Labs, where he occasionally does some work in-between deep discussions of both Shakespeare and Star Wars.