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Jan 16, 2009 | Comments

There’s been a ton of buzz about social media, conversations, dialogue, relationships, etc.

This is because social media is in a bubble. But that does not make all of the social stuff unimportant.

Alisa makes a great point: “Social media isn’t social media…it is the Web.” Maybe in 1998, my online behavior was siloed. But everything I do online is social–I’m constantly interacting. Online marketing is social marketing.

This is why a focus on engagement makes so much sense. Instead of trying to get as many visitors as possible to your site, lets exploit the Internet for what it is–a great communication device.

Every project I’ve witnessed at American Express focuses on 1998 metrics: click-throughs, visitors, visits, page views. Again, from Alisa, “The point isn’t click-throughs, its about that interaction/involvement/intimacy– ie ‘engagement.’”

and from Mike on why the old metrics don’t work:”…brands currently spend the majority of their online budgets on display advertising, is that it is a known quantity. People know what to expect…But, just because a thing can be measured, doesn’t make it worth something.

My problem, however, is that you need KPIs to figure out whether you’re on the right track. What do these metrics look like? I’m internally debating what makes the most sense, but here are some possibilities:

  1. Repeat Visitors. Rating = poor. it logically follows that if you keep going back to a site, you’re engaged. But you could have still formed a relationship with only one visit.
  2. Viral. Rating = poor. Viral activity would be a great metric if you could quantify it better. Does anyone know a way to track this effectively?
  3. Activity. Rating = medium. If your site has a channel for interaction, then using activity is a great way to measure engagement. Not every site, however, has a way for users to easily take action.
  4. Subscriptions. Rating = high. User subscriptions follow from strong engagement and a willingness to receive communication on a regular basis. This is about the same as granting permission (a la Godin).
  5. Average Time on Site. Rating = high. Time is valuable, and it is great proxy for engagement and loyalty (via FeverBee).

Something to think about: what other metrics approximate the consumer engagement and relationships?

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  1. bounce rate goes hand in hand with average time on site. sometimes a user can find the info he needs on your site and then leave. how do you keep the user after your content has served its purpose?

  2. I feel like bounce rate is more of an e-commerce metric–just because I leave your site doesn’t mean I’m not engaged or I have not formed a relationship. I hear this comment all the time from VPs and directors at Amex…how do we keep people on our site as long as possible? It is the eternal question of site stickiness.

    IMO, there shouldn’t be some type of trick to keep people on my site. I’m trying to build a relationship with readers of my blog, but I do not necessarily need them reading for 10min and minimizing bounce rate. If I really wanted to them to stay on my site, I’d need a ton more content (expensive content, that is).

  3. I agree that repeat visits is a pretty weak metric.

    Repeat mentions and links back from the same source, however, are a pretty good measure. For instance, if a blogger is mentioning your brand/campaign multiple times, in multiple posts, and linking back to your site multiple times, that significant…and measurable.

    What I’m most interested in is finding evidence of people who get what your brand is about, and are becoming invested in what you’re trying to do. Usually that means that your brand has to stand for something bigger than your product or service, a la Godin’s “Tribes”.

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