Why is Facebook ‘engagement’ important?

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‘Engagement’. A term bandied about sufficiently often in social media marketing and research. But exactly what is it?

There are many ways users can engage with Facebook, some of them include:

* Commenting on a post;

* Liking a photo;

* Sharing a page to friends.

There are almost as many ways that ‘engagement’ can be defined as there are ways to interact with Facebook. The issue is further muddled by the fact that Facebook defines engagement at both ‘post’ and ‘page’ level - that is, users’ interaction with your page’s posts are measured separately from their interaction with your page itself; but those two metrics are interconnected – for instance, a user can like a post on your page, but may also like it through his/her own timeline (without ever accessing your page).

Engagement became even more contentious after a recent study by Simply Measured, showing that Facebook engagement has dropped alarmingly for some of the United States’ biggest brands, some by a staggering 90%. Much of this decrease was due to Facebook’s recent algorithm change, which was said to have lowered brands’ organic reach (that is, reach achieved by fans sharing and liking your contents, rather than through paid promotions).

For social media marketers on low budget who want to maximise organic reach, understanding of ‘engagement’ becomes even more crucial.

Social Media Today provided a handy ‘engagement’ metric:

In simple terms, engagement rate on Facebook can be calculated as the number of “People Talking about this” divided by the total number of likes.

Simply Measured also argued that marketers should encourage more sharing, rather than more liking:

A customer … posted a photo meme that received 123 shares, 419 likes and 6 comments… She posted a link the next day with a photo as a thumbnail (which Facebook now enlarges) and received only 27 shares, and 2 comment threads.

The meme photo with 18 times higher engagement had a Reach of 11,256 – only 1/3rd the amount of the link post, which Reached 26,288 unique users…

Even the solution to the organic reach drop problem varies between analysts. The same Simply Measured article also argued that you should post more often (so your posts get seen by more unique viewers); but another analyst contends that more posting doesn’t reach more unique viewers – a little paid promotion does.

Ultimately, your online media manager have a number of options:

1. Expend budget on paid promotion (to reach unique viewers), or

2. Develop contents that encourage your audience to share (which may involve some good old fashioned consumer insight).

All depends on your goal really – and your bottom line.

(Photo credit: Flickr/InTheRough)

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3 comments

    1. Thanks for your message. Engagement is a difficult concept to grasp, with many variables. The industry needs some unified theory on engagement measurement. Not to say there should be one single theory, but more universally-accepted standards which can only come from further development.

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