Couple of days back I wrote a post called “Social Media Disconnect“. I’ve thinking about the same topic over & over again. All the more, going by above post’s title, I guess it should have been “why Indian marketers are so bad at measuring social media”. But will try to generalize it (so that I don’t hurt anyone’s sentiment here). In principle, I believe that’s the state of most of the traditional marketers who have joined the digital bandwagon.

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The very idea of this post came when I had a jaw-breaking continuous debate with a friend who serves as a digital marketing whiz for a traditional B2C company. During the conversation, we touched many points regarding the current state of Indian internet, his latest campaigns, the overall brand objective blah blah. But when I asked about what the metrics he’s been using to understand the cost-vs-effectiveness measure, we got into a winkled conversation which led to many facets which kind off led me to write this post.

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Couple of questions I asked during our conversation was:

  • How do you define & measure engagement in social media efforts?
  • What’s your average lead/conversation ratio in different digital media campaigns?
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Now to keep the sanctity of my friend’s indulgence, I won’t divulge into letting you know about the numbers or stats. But consider this that I was less than satisfied – not with the numbers/stats but more with the overall approach.

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One of the comments I received about engagement was – Engagement is measured with repeat numbers. The more you engage with intenders, the more you transform them into brand ambassadors….when he (customer) is willing to put in his number on a property, i treat that as an engagement.

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Now is that what engagement all about in digital medium? Basically, what repeat numbers tells us is that X number of customers have likeness towards your brand and hence they return. That no way shows that they have turned loyal to your brand or bigger than that – they think of buying your product or rather endorsing it. Now when that it done repeatedly, we can call them as brand ambassadors or evangelists.

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Also there are some more important issues underlying:

  • What is the percentage of repeat users over a period time? Do they fall in sync with your brand sales or can they be charted in your sales record over a period of time? If not, then there’s disconnect.
  • What if users come back to you, what do you do? Fend or elope. May be tracking the positive, negative or neutral comments might help.
  • The bigger question as mentioned in my last post – Do you (brands) really really want to hang out with targeted user-groups?
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I do understand that for a website, one of engagement metrics can be its repeat visitors (while the bounce rate is no where in the picture most often) but for traditional brick & mortar business model, I hardly can understand how engagement translated into pure-play numbers can be scientifically put into sheet of paper so as to say yes now thats my engagement. So what do you do – put a percentage on it saying x% is my engagement of your put numerical number to it saying X numbers of users/visitor is my engagement.

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Although, this approach might be working for few (I’m not saying it’s wrong) but its lacking. Somehow it irks me thinking that there can be various other means & ways to measure engagement effectively- for example, how about using multi-metric to understand the engagement like sudden spike in traffic volume measured along with sales leads translated into actual sales, volume of UGC for your brand’s objective, how many comments (in positive, negative or neutral showing brand advocacy), lead generated versus brand awareness. Now these are few metric should can be used to understand any campaign strength amongst the user groups. Check with the back-end if the numbers showing are translated into actual sales and awareness. Then may be the FB fan page or twitter profile can help you understand if users have increased and people are conversing about it.

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Now these are certain approaches that brands can take when going for a campaign. Even though these are long term strategies (say 6-8 months), but the brand itself wants to be there for a longer time, right!

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Call me insane but I kind of find this only metric to measure engagement especially when engagement is bounced off as an idea of harmlessly engage with audience (in normal term it means bombard messages in twitter or FB) and then more you engage more u transform into brand ambassadors bit off the hook.

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Now isn’t that the whole traditional model where you slap ads after ads in tv, print or any other tangible media thinking consumers are just there waiting for ads to show up and then they run off the nearest store and buy the goddamn product.

Now there can two reasons why such conditions arose in the first place – one may be the term engagement has been mutilated enough in the corporate boardroom and what left is the blood on the floor or may be I’m wrong. If I’m wrong – then it’s good since then its one Sampad who’s wrong but if its the industry wide nomenclature then SoS.

What do you say?