Engagement and The Long Tail of Social Media Discussions

I’ve said before that engagement is hugely important in social media listening because of how it is such a good measure to discovering what content is generating the most word of mouth for your brand, how it changes the landscape of your key influencers, and how it reveals something new about what your customers care about.

It has one flaw during listening though.

High engagement posts might only ever make up as much as 5% of total discussions, and tools still don’t have built in methods to correctly measure where your audience is on a whole. Social media listening tools might be able to tell you which posts, forum threads, or tweets have the highest engagement, but they don’t do a good job at communicating how much conversation about your brand is happening in the “low engagement” space.

Firstly, audience impact. Say (out of 100 posts) you have 4 high engagement blog posts during a certain time period and 96 medium to low engagement one. It’s too difficult as it is to understand what that equates to in terms of engaged audience as of now. We know that 4 posts were high engagement, but in total what does that mean as far as number of commenters across them all? Same thing goes for the total of our medium or low engagement posts.

Let’s assume that across our 4 high engagement posts 800 comments and retweets were created (the retweets might have been viewed by another 5,000 twitter users). That might be a lot, but when we think about the idea of the long tail, our 96 other medium to low engagement posts might have reached 4x that audience.

So tools give us numbers that explain a posts grade or level of “engagement” but it’s still too difficult to use tools to understand the real reach and impact of content online.

Secondly, if we forget about this issues of real reach of content using engagement scores, what we see each month as being the high engagement posts related to our brand, and how much of a share of conversation high engagement posts make up as a total of all social media discussions should be trended over time. Comparing the difference of the different share of high engagement-conversations between different segments of either audience or brand features as well.

I must admit that I’m still working on the problem of “what does it mean” with regards to comparing share of high engagement conversation. If you have any ideas or answers to that question I’d be thankful if you left your thoughts in the comments.

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