Determining Your Metric for Engagement

The above is your ticket to determining online engagement. Simple. Something any online marketer, community manager, or social media strategist will know, right? Looks pretty daunting to me. Does determining engagement have to be this complex?

As you may have noticed, I’ve been very focused on online community engagement. While I’ve touched quite a bit on developing strategies around increasing engagement, as well as measuring engagement, I have not yet delved into an actual formula one might use to measure it. Here we’ll take a look at some different views on the equation one might use to calculate this abstract but important metric.

And by the way, the above formula isn’t a rubric for engagement. It’s actually the fourier series, completely unrelated to engagement, at least as far as I can tell. But doesn’t it look cool?

I believe there are two methodologies to consider when looking at engagement:

1) Activity per user

2) activity per content (or site)

In both cases, you’re measuring active users (although through slightly different lenses). The primary difference between the two is comparing that activity to either all members, or all visits to a page or website. Let’s take a look at each in more depth.

Activity per user

This metric tracks share of engagement within or among all community members. What constitutes an active member will be up to you. For example, I count the user as active if they have done one of either posting a new resource or posting a new comment. This methodology is an important one to track if you have a close-knit community, for example an intranet, extranet, or a niche professional community (energy consortium, social media strategists, software dev firms) that requires membership to participate.

Activity per content 

This one is something  a recent Altimeter report on Social Media Marketing Analytics seems to be trying to promote as the de facto standard for engagement. Comments, shares, and trackbacks are important and ubiquitous, but I think you could insert other activities here, such as follows, likes, or rates, depending on what your site platform offers. This engagement methodology is more useful for blogs, social e-commerce, and news or media sites. It’s also the more common way to track engagement on Twitter (follows, retweets, direct replies) and Facebook (likes).

Are there other ways you measure engagement for your online community? Please share in the comments section.

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