A blog about Facebook marketing

Why we value engagement on Facebook

Friday, February 1, 2013 Sven Hamberg

In discussions on Facebook marketing, engagement is a word thrown around quite a lot. It’s almost like if engagement is the higher objective. It’s not. Engagement is a means to an end, and in this blog post I will discuss how engagement relates to brand awareness. I’ll also share some results for how this has worked out for Qwaya.

I argue that engagement, in a Facebook context, is people consuming your content or interacting with your brand.

Engagement can therefore take many forms and shapes on Facebook. Some are what Facebook calls Actions and are directly measurable. A few examples:

  • Someone liking your page or your post
  • Someone enlarging a photo in your post
  • Someone clicking a link in your post
  • Someone commenting on you post
  • Someone RSVPing to your event

I’d also argue that someone reading your update, without liking, sharing or commenting on it counts as engagement - although it’s not measurable.

Depending on the form engagement takes, its value is more or less obvious. In the case of clicks on links to your website, to a product or pricing page for instance, I think it’s quite clear. The person clicking the link becomes a lead, albeit in a weak sense of the term.

For other forms of engagement, such as viewing a photo or reading a post, I make little distinction between these and the viewing of an ad on TV. They’re not identical, sure, but the value they create are of the same kind.

An ad on TV has the power to position a brand, as well as create and reinforce awareness. A video, text update, or photo on Facebook has the same power. Of course the formats are different and I’d agree with TV being more impactful in that it occupies more of your senses - which is also reflected in the difference in pricing.

However, if you agree with engagement on Facebook being akin to views of TV ads, and provided that you value ads on TV, the value of engagement should be obvious.

The Qwaya case: It starts with this blog

We try to practice what we preach and we “re-launched” this blog in August 2012. As we did that we started using Facebook as the main distribution channel for our content. The content in our blog posts sum up our experiences from marketing Qwaya on Facebook, combined with past experiences and that of companies we work with.

There are plenty of Facebook metrics to look at when measuring the results of marketing activities on the platform. One that in a good way sums up how well you’re doing in terms of distributing content your audience finds valuable is the Viral reach. It’s a measure of how many people saw your brand in an update from a friend.

Or to quote Facebook, Viral reach is:

The number of people who saw your Page or one of its posts from a story published by a friend. These stories include liking your Page, posting to your Page's Wall, liking, commenting on or sharing one of your Page posts, answering a Question you posted, RSVPing to one of your events, mentioning your Page, phototagging your Page or checking in at your Place. (Unique Users)

Of course this says nothing of the sentiment of the stories, and in a worst case scenario your Viral reach could skyrocket, while all posts about your brand are negative. If this happens you would probably know about it though.

In our case the Viral reach has increased with around 16,500% since we started actively working with Facebook as a distribution channel for our content. The values in the graph above are indexed, and I should add that our Viral reach in April 2012 was rather low.

Translating engagement into website visits

Ok, so Viral reach is a metric for gauging content quality in terms of engagement. But how does this translate into more substantial values?

If taking a look at our website analytics, the inflow of visitors from Facebook has increased dramatically since we started working actively with marketing activities aiming to increase engagement around our brand.

This is especially true if including paid traffic, and we always sponsor our posts in order to maximize reach for the content we’ve spent resources on creating.

For the graph below however, paid traffic from Facebook is excluded in order to show only the visits attributable to earned reach. The values have been indexed.

Organic traffic from Facebook has increased with almost 800%, although I’ll admit that this too started at somewhat low volumes.

This starts getting really interesting when comparing the organic Facebook traffic with Direct traffic. That is, visits to our website where the visitor has typed in “www.qwaya.com” in their browser URL field, or a URL to any other page on our site.

I argue that the change in Direct traffic volume over time is a good measure for brand awareness, provided that the ratio between new and repeat visits stay at the same level. In our case it has. If anything the share of new visitors has increased slightly.

Before we launched this blog and started putting resources towards using Facebook as a distribution channel for our content, our inflow of Direct traffic was fairly flat.

As shown in the above graph, the inflow of Direct traffic has increased with almost 100% since the launch of this blog.

Putting resources towards creating engaging content and distributing it via Facebook is the one major measure we’ve taken, and I’m certain it’s the main driver behind our lift in Direct traffic.

Or brand awareness, if you will.

So if you’re looking to get your brand out there but been debating whether to put resources towards Facebook marketing, I hope this blog post at least has made you think twice.

To read more about how to build a Facebook presence, see our blog post Why should people follow me on Facebook?

Connect with Sven on Twitter: @svenhamberg

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