In business, we’re always looking to move graphs up and to the right. We want to show that our efforts are paying off—after all, we’re spending our entire day and almost our entire week chasing after goals.
Because of this, and because we’re often incentivized in certain ways, we focus solely on what actions are driving revenue, directly. We stay away from the fuzzy, from the things we can’t quite quantify, because then we wouldn’t be sure if all that effort was for something.
We can do better than that.
As marketers, we all know the power of brand. And we know that it really can’t be measured. If that gives you the heebie-jeebies, I offer something in between: Engagement.
Engagement may not drive dollars, but it certainly drives brand. Simply put, engagement is a measure of how many times someone interacted with your piece of content on a specific channel. In social media, that’s how many likes or comments you garner. For email, it may be how many link clicks you see or if you asked for a response, how many responses you get.
Engagement is a proxy for how well you’re doing.
It’s a good metric to keep in your back pocket mainly because the way the top of funnel works, it’s very unlikely someone will buy right away. Especially in B2B, it usually takes time before someone goes from “this is interesting,” to “we need this right now.”
For social, this is especially important. Algorithms are constantly changing to prioritize engagement—the thinking being, if it’s interesting, it gets a lot of likes and comments—which means the more engagement you receive, the higher up on feeds you’ll appear.
(Incidentally, this very algorithm is what has caused such an emphasis on controversial or “fake news,” allowing trolls to dictate what’s been seen. This article explains more).
So, how do you drive engagement?
Well, for one thing, you can ask for it. We use social media to connect with one another and with brands, so it’s no surprise that asking for engagement can garner it. It works the same as any other call to action—if that’s your goal, then make that clear in your message.
This works better for certain channels like social, where it’s easy to ask a question or run a poll.
The other answer is the one few like to hear. There’s really no shortcuts for engagement. Bloggers and Instagram influencers the world over have tried to hack the system, but it doesn’t really work. You have to put out quality content, day in and day out. No shortcuts.