Pretty much since social media was invented (Al Gore invented social media, right?), one of the primary strategies for brands has centered on engagement.
We measure likes, comments, shares, retweets and a whole lot more in the spirit of ‘engaging’ with our customers.
The rationale: That if we can get followers to engage with our brands, they’re more likely to move down the sales funnel and buy from our brands.
Makes sense–and most brands have followed this rational for YEARS.
But that approach may no longer make sense–at least not in the dominant way it has over last number of years.
Instead, a much more “passive” approach may make sense that’s not as based on engagements, but more focused on follower counts (you remember those, right?), impressions and customer service and customer retention.
Let’s start at the beginning: engagement. Lately, it seems like those “engagement” numbers are down. Fewer people are responding and commenting on brand posts–I’m seeing that with my clients and in other research I’ve done the last couple years.
Meanwhile, “likes” and more passive metrics like “views” are up. Translation: More people seem apt to passively engage with brands on social media. After all the “like” or “view” are the two most passive metrics we often track.
Finally, take a peek at this research from Sprout Social. It tracks actions consumers take when they follow a brand on social. Notice that the top five actions are either passive (visit the brand’s web site), or directly tied to sales!
Meanwhile, the bottom five actions are more focused on what we would call traditional engagements–leaving a review, reading a blog post, engaging with the brand on social.
The data gets even more compelling.
When asked what actions they would take to buy from one brand over another, consumers convincingly pointed to customer service and listening over engaging and content marketing.
Where is this all leading?
To a future where “engagement” is no longer king. Where more passive metrics like follower counts and impressions take up more prominence. And, a future where we focus more time and effort on listening and customer service than we do on content creation.
Will we get there anytime soon? Your guess is as good as mine. But the numbers seem to be telling a pretty compelling story. Now it’s up to you and your brand to make decisions on what metrics to track and emphasize and how to tailor your social media marketing strategy to those numbers and goals.