Countless articles endlessly declare that one of the key performance indicators of the success of a social media campaign is engagement, which is actually reflected in the tweets, retweets, reposts, comments, Likes and Followers that your page gets. Many marketers use engagement as the ROI of any social media marketing strategy. The question is, are all those Likes and comments actually earning you any sales, which is actually what engagement in social media is supposed to be for in the first place?
When engagement in social media doesn’t end up in sales for whatever product or service you’re doing the social media campaign for, then it wouldn’t matter if you had a million Likes in the first few months of the campaign. When all that engagement on social media isn’t giving you any return on investment, you’re probably just wasting your time.
To help put your focus on engagement for your social media campaigns in perspective, here are some questions you have to answer for yourself.
Gain new customers, or keep existing ones?
Engagement is definitely great for keeping existing consumers. With all the rapport going on between you and them through your posts, they are certainly there to stay. But what about gaining new ones? Isn’t that part of your overall marketing goals too? If it is, then you must do more than just have an enjoyable social media back and forth between you and your customers or get them to retweet you or mention you in their own tweets or posts. If anything, you must give people—existing and prospective ones alike—a reason to dig into their pockets to purchase whatever product or service you’re offering.
Are calls to action a staple of your “engagement”?
Sure, it’s fun to interact with your customers on social media. It will always be good PR, this particular type of engagement. But do you even bother to put in a call to action or CTA at the end of your engagement? Assuming that your goal is to win more customers, your engagements have to have a CTA that would push the people you’re engaging closer to purchasing your products or service. If your engagements don’t have CTAs at the end, all you’re likely to earn is good PR, not good ol’ sales.
Is your platform even the right one?
So you’re spending a lot of time on, say, Twitter and having a ball engaging people there. But if your business is all about women’s fashion, you may be spending too much time on the wrong social network. If anything, the best platform to promote sales for a fashion-related business would be Pinterest.
What we’re trying to say is that you need to be realistic and practical about the social media sites your potential customers are visiting, as well as their mindset when they do. It would make more sense for a person running a Korean restaurant to spend more time engaging customers on Twitter or Foursquare than on Facebook, after all.
Do you bother influencers for engagement?
It’s but natural for any marketer to at least try to reach out to big names or the so-called “influencers” of social media. After all, if an influencer notices you and retweets something that you wrote, it would be like hitting the jackpot, especially if that influencer’s name is big enough in your niche. However, any conversation that happens between you and an influencer could only be forced at best, because all your interactions—if any—take place only on social media and nowhere else.
You just can’t expect an industry leader to sit up, take notice and respond when you post something on their wall. It’s like expecting a celebrity to consent to having his/her picture taken while holding up a fan sign you thrust into his/her face when you chanced upon him/her on the street. What we’re saying is you can’t force an influencer to retweet you or endorse you because you asked to or dropped hints about it on social media. Don’t waste your time trying to get an influencer to care about you and engage because, if anything, endorsements should be genuine, and they are most often achieved in arenas other than social media, such as, well, the real world, with all the right connections coming into play.
If you care so much about engagement and you take a lot of pride in those retweets and the number of your followers, then continue doing it by all means. Just don’t treat it like the indicator of social media success that it certainly isn’t. As long as your engagement doesn’t translate to sales and doesn’t prove that it helps you keep customers around and gain new ones, don’t put too much stock on it.