A report released last September found that 5% of brand-created content accounted for 90% of all engagement.
Is that significant? To hear that 5% of all content accounts for 90% of all engagement, well…it sounds significant, right? If you could see that 5% of the content your brand created drove 90% of all the social media engagement, would you find that to be significant?
Maybe, but that’s not the whole story. The importance that social media engagement has as it relates to your brand’s content greatly depends on if your content and social media strategies are built to encourage and capitalize on that engagement. If you are creating content with engagement as a goal, and you are leveraging that engagement to drive a more significant business outcome, then engagement can be a very good thing.
The trap that too many companies fall into with their content strategies is that they place too much importance on gaining social shares. Smart companies don’t optimize their content for social shares, they optimize it for their customers.
Private Engagement Trumps Social Media Engagement
Too often when it comes to social media and content marketing management, what can easily be measured, is what gets managed. Content is often judged harshly on the number of social shares (engagement) it drives because that can easily be measured. The problem has become that social shares are no longer meaningful as a measurement of content being read. In fact, research has shown that the vast majority of social shares drive little or no actual engagement with the content being shared.
Then what does matter? Whether I’m working with a client or executing my own content creation and strategy efforts, the metrics I value aren’t found in social shares and comments, but rather in Google Analytics. I look for private engagement versus public engagement.
What’s the difference? I call things like social shares (Likes on Facebook, RTs on Twitter) and comments as being public engagement. You can easily see this type of engagement. You can look at this blog post and at the top see how many times it’s been shared on Facebook or LinkedIn. Those are public engagement numbers.
The private engagement numbers are ones that only I have access to. Like number of search visitors that a post sends to my blog, or the number of emails that a post generates. Or the number of newsletter signups that a post drives, or the number of trial product signups.
Keep in mind that these are all forms of engagement. We’ve become almost trained to think of engagement around our content being either comments or social shares. If I read your post and as a result sign up for your newsletter, that’s engagement. In fact, that’s probably a more meaningful form of engagement for you than a RT or Like.
So I Engaged With Your Content, Now What?
There’s definitely value in social media engagement. But what’s your plan for dealing with that social media engagement around your content? If someone shares your content, do you thank them? If someone takes the time to write a 3 paragraph comment on your post, do you take the time to write a meaningful response, or do you just peck out a quick “Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!” response? If you’re going down the road that social media engagement has value for your content strategy, then you also need to have a plan for how to address engagement when it happens. You reward the behavior you want to encourage, and one of the best ways to reward people that engage with your content is to respond to them. That communicates to them that you appreciate their taking the time to respond to your content or to share your content. It also encourages them to move from being a first-time commenter, to being a regular reader and consumer of your content. My point is that if you are going to place a value on getting social media engagement around your content, then you need to work with your digital team to have a plan in place for how they will react and respond to that engagement.
Your Content Strategy Should Be Built to Drive Specific Types of Engagement
Every time someone interacts with your content, you should be trying to convince that person to engage in a certain action. Maybe you want them to comment, maybe you want them to share the content. Or maybe you want them to sign up for your newsletter or email you. The point is that you have to decide which forms of engagement are the most valuable to you, and create a content strategy that is built toward those forms of engagement. I have worked with many companies that never got a comment or share on their content and could care less, they were more concerned with the long-tail keywords that their articles were helping them rank for in Google.