Why is Facebook ‘engagement’ important?


‘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)

What does Facebook’s Algorithm Change Mean for Marketers?


Facebook announced yesterday a tweak to their news feed algorithm. In a nutshell, relevant posts, articles and news items are favoured ahead of meme photos.

What was a news feed again?

Facebook’s news feed is the first thing users see when they log into their account. It contains updates from their friends, “liked” pages, and (sometimes) Facebook announcement. In other words, Facebook news feed is social media prime real estate.

And why is the algorithm important?

What goes on each user’s news feed is not random. It is determined by Facebook’s own algorithm – like fast food secret recipes, the algorithm is only known to people inside Facebook’s corporate fortress. But Facebook’s own news room does announce how the algorithm is supposed to work.

Why should the marketer care?

According to the analysis site AllFacebook, there are three main aspects to the new algorithm:

  • Ensuring users see more useful news articles in news feed;
  • Highlight stories with recent comments;
  • Both favoured ahead of meme photos.

Facebook made this change because, according to their research, people prefer quality articles and relevant news about what they like ahead of memes.

What does this mean to the marketer? Facebook is rewarding interaction, which is fostered by news and information that individual users find useful, with which they could engage in conversations with other like-minded people. Marketers should therefore be encouraged to:

  • Understand their audience/potential clientele better;
  • Produce contents that acutely address that audience’s needs;
  • Seek innovative ways to enhance engagement, whether by comments, likes, or sharing.

Social media risk management for small business?

In my marketing investigation rounds, I often hear small business owners and organisations wanting to get into social media, but for one reason or another chose not to do so.

Sometimes they simply say “we don’t want to”, and then (often without prompting) declare one of the following:

  • “People say stupid things on social media.”
  • “You can’t control what people say about you.”
  • “Once something (about your brand) is out in social media, it’s out there forever.”

All very valid concerns. And the plethora of social media horror stories in business may be no coincidence – a survey into social media risk management revealed that only 36% of companies provided employee training, even though 71% of companies were concerned about risks.

But there are things small business owners can do to alleviate them without going completely abstinent. Here is just a small collection.

1. Develop social media policy for staff

If you hire staff, and they use social media, they may say things that you (as the boss) are unhappy about. An extreme way of dealing with this is to ban all social media use – but that’s simply not practicable, especially if your staff post in a private capacity.

Techrepublic’s first tip on protecting your brand from social media risks was to establish a staff policy:

The policy should cover employee use of social media — for example, employees’ own Facebook or Twitter accounts – and use by the business.

2. Owners should also be careful

Technewsdaily sagely advised, among other things, that even though Facebook and Google+ has particular privacy options, never assume that things are only visible to those within your private circles. How Randi Zuckerberg’s private family photo (with brother Mark in it) got publicised was case in point.

3. Address customer feedback in an appropriate manner

You can’t please every single customer. If your brand is on social media, even if you do everything right, there’s no guarantee that a customer may say a negative thing or two. This fear alone holds back many of my investigative clients – but it shouldn’t.

Forbes suggested several ways in which high-profile brands addressed customer complaints in social media, and their first advice was: yes, you should reply.

You may want to crawl in a hole and disappear, but ignoring the comments won’t make them go away. Remember: Your goal is to make your company appear transparent, open, and approachable. 

Inc.com helpfully provided “Four C’s” in providing good response: Care, Comment, Correct, and Compromise.

Of course, business can still thrive without social media; but if you want to dip your brand into this dynamic world, hopefully these tips will help your investigation.

social media clock

When is the best time to post on social media?

‘What time should I post on social media?’

A vexing question for any social media-savvy marketers. Despite its obvious importance, a clear answer remains elusive, mainly because many of those metrics are difficult to define. It had been argued that social media metrics, being a relatively new phenomenon, is not yet matured enough to clearly predict campaign effectiveness. Even one of the seminal metrics – CTR (click-through rate) – was found by Nielsen to be poorly correlated to return-on-investment on marketing budget.

Nevertheless, I’ve managed to dig out a few patterns from previous studies (with several good reviews from Buffer, starting here). Given the uncertainties in metric definition (or if you must, ‘opertionalisation’), these studies must be considered in light of your business’ particular circumstances.

Twitter engagement:

Day: weekdays generate more clicks (Argyle found 14% improvement overall; Dan Zarrella found most optimal clicks between Thursdays and Sundays. Somewhat conflicting results, but late in the week seems the overlap between the two.)

Time: most retweets are received around 5pm; most clicks are received at 12pm and 6pm (found by both Argyle and Dan Zarrella – the latter warned against dinner time tweets where activities drop (6-8pm)). Conversely, in a study involving Bitly link shorteneers, Raka found the best click-through rate is achieved at between 1-3pm on Mondays to Thursdays.

Best mobile usage (181% improvement) is during morning and evening commutes (8am, 2pm, 4-6pm), according to a Twitter study.


Days: Buddy Media found that engagement is best on Thursdays and Fridays (with Sundays somewhat positive), whilst business industry engagement peaks on Wednesday, closely followed by Thursdays.

Time: Buddy Media again found that early morning (6-8am)/ late night (9-11pm) are times when most brands don’t post, which provides opportunity to reach the top of fans’ news feeds,

For blog posts:

* KISS Metrics found that Mondays, and 11am on a particular day, are highest for blog-viewing. However given the lack of cross-tabulation, it is not immediately clear whether Monday 11am IS the best time for blog viewership.

* Dan Zarrella, meanwhile, found that blogs posted at 8pm receive more likes; and those posted at 6pm receive more shares. He also found that weekend blog-posts receive more likes (but unclear on whether shares differ by days).

A caveat on engagement – one of many!

If your goal now is increased engagement, that’s fine, higher likes/ shares will be good enough.

But if you want your business to be profitable, or build real relationships, then does engagement necessarily translate to those objectives?

As I mentioned in the second paragraph, the maturity and agreed framework on social media metrics remain debatable. In other words, do click-throughs necessary mean better ROI? (recall that Neilsen research said no) Do likes generate better brand image? – some of these questions are asked in good-old-fashioned marketing, well-predating social media. But that’s a topic for next time.

(Image credit: PosBisnis.com)


Build social media relationships, then worry about sales

Social media marketing is about building meaningful customer relationships, rather than mass-broadcast of advertising messages – as Entrepreneur Magazine relevantly pointed out.

Yes, social media provides a great platform for low-cost, wide-reaching communication. But given the cynicism of today’s tech-savvy consumers, will your brand communication resonate? Will today’s web consumers be attracted to any advertising message, devoid of personal meaning and attachment?

Tukan Das, the article’s author, helpfully stated that in order to build this meaningful relationship, you may need to look beyond direct brand mentions. Which means certain traditional marketing metrics, such as sentiment analysis, may not directly translate to results.

Of course, to build a relationship, you need to find an audience that is more likely to be interested in your message. Different methods may exist for different social media platforms – for example…

  • Twitter – define keywords in your business – find users active with those keywords – and monitor your interaction.
  • Facebook – establish a publishing routine – find what your fans also like (with Graph Search) – interact!
  • Instagram – quality daily posting (but don’t go over the top) – utilise hashtags – connect with other social media platforms.

Those are but three articles in a sea of advice, but they seem to share a common theme: consistency; find key themes; engage. Pretty much how successful business relationships are established, social media or not, no?


Things to keep secret from co-workers?

Toxic workplaces – why do they happen? What can generate them?

Bernard Marr suggested, via Linkedin, certain things that shouldn’t be shared  in office. No 1 of them? “Salary or money details”.

Most of them I heartily agree. Marr admonishes against sharing your personal Facebook account – which is good advice for the over-sharers. But for those who are savvy with using Facebook for business, it may yet prove profitable.

(Image Source)