Engagement Without Action Is Just Noise

by Mack Collier





These are all ‘engagement’ metrics that many companies track to decide if their social media marketing efforts are successful.  It’s completely understandable, because these metrics are very easy to find.

And that’s typically the problem.  Too often we place too much value on the social media metrics that are the easiest to track.  You shouldn’t be tracking metrics such as comments and likes because they are easy to find, you should be tracking them because you understand that they lead to a desired outcome for your company.

What happens after that comment or Like?  When someone follows you on Twitter, what change in their behavior does that lead to?

If you can’t answer these questions then why are you tracking these metrics?  And to be clear, all of these metrics have value, I’m not knocking engagement or measuring metrics that attempt to measure them for social media tools.  My point is that you need more than simply Likes and Comments.  You need to build engagement with people that leads to some desired outcome for you company.  You need to be able to show that people that comment on your blog are more likely to do X which increases their chance of doing Y, which has a positive impact on your business’ bottom line.  If you can make that connection from point to point, then you have proven the value of blog comments for your company, and you should be doing everything you can to encourage them, and you should be tracking them.

But if you aren’t at that point, then you need to invest some time and energy in figuring out exactly why you are measuring metrics that you can’t prove have a positive impact on your business.  And the odds are that you can prove these metrics impact your brand, you just need to do the work to find the connection.

Create Content —–>  Get engagement —-> _______?

When you can fill in that blank and show how it helps you reach your end business goal for using social media, then you’re set.  A lot of people say it’s easy to use social media, but the only people telling you its easy to see the results you want are the ones trying to sell you something 😉

Businessman holding megaphone making noise image from Big Stock.

Ian Greenleigh October 3, 2012 at 8:30 am

I agree with your post, but I think your title doesn’t quite nail it. Awareness, for example, is a legitimate business goal, and metrics can show the extent to which one’s social efforts are leading to it, but awareness isn’t an action, it’s an outcome. I think the title would be better written as, “Engagement without outcomes is just noise.”

Mack Collier October 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

Ian it is SO funny, I started to go with ‘Engagement Without Your Desired Outcomes Is Just Noise’, but I second-guessed myself into going with this one. I think I am still in ‘fewer words is better’ mode from writing/editing the book :)

Icess Fernandez October 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm


Great post! Yes! I agree that the measures are just a way measuring something easy.

I do social media for my work and the purpose I’ve been given is to create a conversation on our social media outlets. While that’s great, I really want to create conversation that translate into brand loyalty, into web hits, into story ideas, into buy-in. That’s how I want to measure how well I’m doing. If I can get folks to not only have a conversation but to aid into developing stories and story ideas (I’m in media) and to invest into us with time AND money, then I’ve done my job well.

Ayi Bunbun October 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

Mack, I agree with your post, but I wish to know that more follower,like and visitor do not mean success in social media or business even sale. Theoriticaly that the more traffic is the more customer candidate and the more customer mean more sales. What is your opinion about this theory?

Mack Collier October 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Ayi, I agree with what I think is your basic premise, that if you connect with more people, that in theory, you are also connecting with more potential customers.

My point is that as a company, our efforts can be far more effective and efficient if we put some thought into how we want to interact with that potential customer and WHO that potential customer is.

Here’s a very simple example: I want comments on this blog. But more than that, I want someone like you, that comments regularly, because then I have a chance to development a connection with you, that might lead to a referral, or business, or who knows. So one very simple way I encourage a first-time commenter is by using the Comment Redirect plugin to send the first-time commenter to a special Thank You! page that thanks them for commenting, and shows them that I appreciate them taking the time to do so.

I am rewarding the type of behavior that I want to encourage. Which is just part of the puzzle. The part that I and many other bloggers and blogging companies struggle with is ‘closing the sale’, or at least giving potential customer a relevant call-to-action that moves them closer to a sale.

But I think it starts with giving some thought to what we want to happen AFTER that comment or Like or whatever. How does that form of interaction lead to a tangible business benefit, either directly or indirectly?

Linda Sherman October 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

If you want to see a bad blog title, check out the one I used in the post that shows up here thanks to Comment Luv. I was in news journalist mode and wanted to pump it out very quickly. I stuffed a bunch of words together. I see you were traveling on the weekend, did you happen to see any of this?

Actually the Rumble2012 incident is related to your post in this way. The 2 big media guys (Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly) in the debate got tons of publicity for their Saturday night event through their traditional outlets. But their audiences are also on social. During the INTERNET event, they didn’t bother to monitor from their social outlets. The resulting fall-out is a case study in what not to do.

Linda Sherman October 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I neglected to mention that I find nothing wrong with your title. I stopped to read it because I liked it and I like the four line lead-in too.

Becca October 12, 2012 at 4:50 am

Very interesting article that you’ve posted. To achieve success in social media it is important you should know what you want to accomplish. If you are a leader of a deliver you need to figure out where you are going before making harbor. Thanks for sharing.

Eric Butts October 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Mack – I was looking at this and you struck a chord with me. In fact, this topic is how I spend most of my days helping businesses. Often we find that companies are measuring something that has minimal correlation to drivers of value for the business OR they are measuring something that takes too long to obtain to help facilitate timely decisions. So while ease to obtain data for a metric isn’t the sole/top requirement, it should be considered. There is a balance to be found but the foundation, as you said, is in the linkage of your metrics to value-based outcomes.

The last thing I’ll say is this is yet another example of how good business practices transcend the platform and sizes/types of businesses. Online, brick and mortar, fortune 500, and mom-and-pop shops alike can all benefit from shifting to this outcome-focused mindset.

Mack Collier October 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Eric, I agree, it’s all about the outcomes and letting what you want to accomplish dictate the tools you use versus picking the tools first and then working within their constraints.

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