Coincidentally, I’ve been hit with a pretty singular view of the concept of engagement on a number of occasions this week, so I thought I would take it up myself.
The riff running through all of the conversations is that numbers are not the point in marketing, it’s the quality of the numbers that count, the engagement that counts, the level of the conversation that counts if one is to measure the success of one marketing effort or the importance of one blog over another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m huge on engagement, but engagement without velocity is a lot more work. Sometimes the seemingly seedy, or is it bogus, task of building velocity is what really stops people from building much engagement.
Both of these stories, and the resulting comment fest, come at the about the same point from somewhat different angles – are big numbers, particularly numbers that are hard to gauge, like RSS subscribers, important if those numbers are not engaged. (FYI: Duct Tape Marketing does have big RSS numbers inflated somewhat by the fact that some RSS services like Google Reader bundle my blog automatically for people who choose the small business option.)
The problem I wrestle with in this argument is that it must start with the supposition thats every blogger and social media player has the very same goal. Remember marketing is about ROI and long-term results, whatever you deem they be. With that in mind, there’s no play book for what’s more effective or even how to measure what’s right or more valuable. (There certainly are rules for what’s right and wrong, but that’s not what we are talking about.)
What matters always, always is the completion of meaningful long term strategic objectives. So, the discussion of who’s blog readers are more engaged or if 500 hyper engaged readers is better than 50,000 kinda engaged readers somehow starts sounding a bit like the discussion of the best college football team every year. Until there’s a playoff, and everyone has the same goal, the discussion is silly.
From my perspective, a sale is a really big measure, a media mention is big measure, engagement is a big measure, people contacting me in hopes that I might feature their book or product is a big measure, getting a Google search term on page one is a big measure, the attention of an advertiser is a big measure, a really smart person agreeing to be a guest on my podcast is a big measure, many of these goals are achieved by working really hard to build things that can’t always be quantified scientifically, things that build velocity, such as Diggs, Facebook friends, saves to Google, StumbleUpon traffic, Twitter followers, RSS subscribers, and comments.
The point is that in the old world of marketing you simply couldn’t afford to pursue tactics that didn’t produce great ROI, in the new world of marketing you can often very easily afford to throw some things, on message, in the direction of tactics that might not produce one result, but just might, just maybe produce another, if you were actually able to measure it. Integration, velocity, opportunity and brand are the go words for me.
And just to make this entire thing muddier:
Storytelling ROI: Social Engagement Metrics for Bloggers (Interesting metric of engagement from AideRSS)