If I talk to my girlfriend 83% more this month than last month, am I more engaged? How about if I made a few comments about her? Am I engaged?
The definitions of engagement are clear:
(1) A formal agreement to get married.
(2) An arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.
Over a decade ago, I first published this rant that I wished marketers would quit expressing the term engagement as a business metric. Today it's still an issue in our industry so I've followed it up with the below video.
Time measured on the page, number of comments, number of followers, number of votes, or even the number of minutes of video watched are not helping your business unless you can align the engagement to an actual business result. If you can't, it's just a vanity metric.
I'm still complaining about the abuse of the term engagement today because I witness far too many clients spending large sums of money on content that doesn't provide any business benefit.
It's not engagement, it's dating. And that's not to mean that marketers shouldn't pursue some type of interaction between viewers, followers, fans, listeners, etc… they should. But marketers must be ultimately align that interaction with actual business results.
Dating is any social activity undertaken by, typically, two people with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as their partner.
If your visitors are spending more time on your site, congratulations! You're dating more and it's a good sign… but it's not an engagement. When your visitor buys the ring and puts it on your finger, tell me that you're engaged. When the number of those visitors increases and they purchase more off your website, then you can tell me that your engagement is increasing.
Marketers who can't measure return on investment with social media use terms like engagement to legitimize their efforts and wow their clients… while wasting their money.
By engagement standards, the campaign was a huge success… everyone befriended the gnome and comments and conversations flew! People spent more time on the page and there was a ton of exposure. Unfortunately, though, the campaign cost $300k and was a failure at driving business to Travelocity. In other words… no engagement.
PS: On a side note… I have a girlfriend but we are not engaged.