Mass awareness, engagement and you – why brands need to change what they think about engagement
When it comes to social networks, some brands just want to advertise.
And that’s okay.
Repeat after me – it’s okay for brands to see social networks as a vehicle for advertising…
Both Facebook and Twitter offer media packages that enable you to get your message in front of millions of people. Good old fashioned broadcast advertising. Of course, there are nuances to this type of advertising – Twitter’s angle is reactive or moment based, whereas Facebook’s preferred route seems to be photography based imagery that people will ‘like’.
Two elephants in the room. Firstly, it’s difficult to drive sales at scale when you focus on a few customers (especially customers that probably buying more of your product that the average consumer). Secondly, some brands will struggle to offer social value beyond discounting – how many people really want to have a conversation with their laundry products?
If you are aiming to drive loyalty, improve customer relationships, increase frequency or value of purchase amongst a core group then it makes sense to use an always on approach that relies on organic reach supported with a bit of targeted paid. You’re looking to engage a core group of customers so measuring on interaction levels and engagement makes sense as they are good indicators of how content is resonating with brand fans.
If on the other hand you want to get mass scale and awareness then it makes sense to look beyond your fan base and focus on targeting your message at a broader audience. Most brands only have a small percentage of their customers following them on Twitter or Facebook, and obviously even fewer non-customers. If you were to target just your existing fans then you’d essentially be ignoring most of your customers and almost all of your potential new customers. As such, engagement alone isn’t a good proxy for a successful piece of content for mass scale.
That’s not to say the content you use shouldn’t be engaging. ALL content should be engaging, whether you’re taking to a handful of your biggest fans or millions of infrequent purchasers. Engagement means different things in different content. It can mean as little as standing out, getting and keeping people’s attention right through to causing an immediate reaction such as liking a Facebook post or retweeting something.
The point is that the role of engagement differs. When talking to your loyal customers engagement is the end goal – the aim is that by keeping them engaged they’ll remain loyal and continue to purchase, or even by more. When you’re trying to reach broadcast levels, mass awareness, that engagement is there to help boost reach and make it effective. More people will see your content because of the viral impact social interactions (likes, comments, shares etc) and when they do see it they themselves well find it more engaging because of the social proof or seeing that other people have interacted with it.
Before the deluge of social media experts jump on me shouting “ENGAGEMENT IS KING, BROADCAST IS DEAD” I should point out that I think many, if not most brands would be missing a trick if they focused purely on using social networks for mass reach and ignored the opportunity to drive deeper levels of engagement. Equally though, it’s also the case that using social networks purely as ways to drive loyalty amongst a few are going to be wasting money if they take an engagement focused approach and solely allocate their time, effort and media spend in this way all the while expecting huge reach.
As always, the important thing is to know what your objectives are then act and measure accordingly.