In our third article about Digital Marketing Metrics, we try to understand the inner workings of Sharing and Engagement Metrics. These allow an in-depth understanding of how your public is interacting (or not) with the content you are creating.
Do they appreciate it, spark a discussion around it or do they simply pass it by idly?
Do they send it to their friends, share it with everyone in their lists via their public timeline or simply ignore it?
Do they go through it daily or binge on it weekly?
These are some of the things we will try to analyse and understand in this article.
Social Media Likes
Likes are a form of instant feedback for your stories. By a simple push of a button, the public can show its appreciation of the content you are producing. Receiving a considerable amount of ”likes” will benefit your reach, and could contribute to the overall success of your campaign.
The only issue with this metric is the superficiality with which it measures and presents feedback. For example, someone releases two stories. One is a case study that presents specific data from a piece of work, heavy on numbers, charts and results, that takes around 8 hours to create. The other is an update with work in progress for a new client and presents a couple of very attractive photos of the product/team, containing also a few paragraphs of explanatory text and takes around 2 hours to create. Surprisingly, both pieces of content receive around the same number of ”Likes”.
Did people like both stories to the same extent or did they consider that both were quality work, but one was clearly more in sync with their expectations (whichever of the two it may be)? Should they continue working 8 hours on a case study in the future or should they create 4 work-in-progress updates with qualitative photographs instead? This is a question we will never (at least in the immediate future) be able to answer. This could be easily fixed with a Likert Scale (Example: On a scale of 1 to 5, how much did you like this piece of content?) integrated somehow in the feedback system of Social Media platforms.
Social Media Shares
Social Media Shares are basically ”Likes” taken to the next level. They do not only emphasize that the public appreciates your work, but that they are even willing to share it for the whole world to see (the whole world being their social media friends or followers, in this case). They can even choose to share it on their own timeline or on a friend’s timeline that may be directly interested by your story. In the long run, this beneficial behaviour helps you build brand equity and social media engagement.
One thing you should always have in mind is offering the public a quick and simple solution when it comes to sharing your content. Your website/blog should always have all the relevant social media share buttons strategically positioned so that they are easy to see and interact with. You can, why not, even have specific sharing-related calls-to-action at the end of your content pieces.
Email Forwards represent a way to measure the impact and engagement of the content you are sharing via email campaigns. The email recipient has two options on how he decides to share your story with his friends/colleagues: by hitting the ”forward” button from his email option menu or by pressing the ”Forward to a Friend” button you have embedded in the email body text. Only the second option can offer tracking insights, though.
You can find out some very interesting things by using this option and your public may also appreciate it. First of all, because when you ”Forward to a Friend,” the second recipient gets a link to your content archive, and not the classic forwarded body text containing all the details of the previous recipient. Secondly, you can find out how many people (and exactly who) are forwarding your email and how many of these emails are actually being opened by the second tier of recipients. It is definitely worthwhile investing some time in making your emails ”sharable” or, in this case, ”forwardable”.
Comments represent your public’s written feedback for the stories you are creating. They can offer some insight about the engagement between you and your fans. Besides, comments give you an idea on what your audience’s perspectives are, and offer you the chance to start relevant conversations.
Thus, you should try to constantly answer comments that are directed at you (as a company/representative or as an individual) so that your visitors realize that they can openly have a dialogue and that you are not just spamming everyone.
What you should always be careful about is looking silly/spammy/desperate for attention by creating an irrelevant call-to-action focused on engaging with the public via comments. It is quite embarrassing to ask an open question directed at your public at the end of your story and either have no one answer, or people saying something irrelevant or otherwise useless to your overall engagement goal. If your content is interesting and relevant to your public, it will generate conversations without any help from your side. A clearly better alternative to this would be asking your public openly for feedback on the work you are putting out. It’s easy, It’s honest, it’s direct and it is definitely more classy than asking uninspired questions.
Session duration represents the period of time a visitor has spent looking around on multiple web pages during a single visit of your website (Note: There is a difference between Average Session Duration and Average Time on Page). Google Analytics offers this insight to us via the Average Session Duration metric. This is calculated by dividing the total duration of all sessions in seconds by the number of sessions.
Average session duration= total duration of all sessions in seconds / number of sessions
Average session duration can thus offer insight into how your public interacts and ”consumes” your content, especially when it comes to stories that spread across multiple pages of your website. You can analyse it in accordance with your online goals and discover where you need to invest time and money to ensure growth. Depending on your results and the design of your website you may consider improving your UX/UI design, rethinking your user journey, reorganizing your CTAs, and so on.
The one thing you have to take into consideration, though, is that this is a very controversial metric because it represents an average of other averages. The average session duration for your website is the average of individual page’s average session duration. This, in turn, is an average of all the individual visitor’s session duration. You should definitely think about analysing it by individual landing pages, by countries of interest and/or by session duration paired with the number of sessions.
Page Depth represents the number of pages your public is visiting during a session. It is very important to know how your public is consuming your content, whether they are binging on it once in a while or reading every new piece right when it comes out.
Using Google Analytics you can generate a report that shows you how many pages your readers are visiting. Usually, if you are an eCommerce website you will find a lot of people visiting around 20+ pages per session. On the other hand, if you are a blog or a news publisher, you will find a lot of people visiting a lot less than 20 pages. You should definitely go in depth in this case and find out exactly how your blog visitors are interacting with your work.
When it comes to Social Media Sharing and Engagement Metrics we mostly have access to qualitative data (as opposed to quantitative data). This is a major downside and should be taken into consideration when using this data to take strategic decisions. Email and Blog/Website Sharing and Engagement Metrics offer a much more quantitative look at how the public consumes and interacts with your content. All of these metrics should be analysed in accordance with Consumption and Retention Metrics in order to be able to make relevant strategic decisions.