Social Media Explorer
Jason Falls is CEO of Social Media Explorer, an education and information products company focused on social media and other forms of digital marketing. A public relations professional by trade, Falls has advised Fortune 100 brands, regional corporations and technology startups since the “early days” of social media marketing in the mid-2000s. He spoke to eMarketer’s Dan Marcec about what real engagement means in the context of social media marketing strategy.
eMarketer: How do companies measure social media engagement, and how does that affect their social marketing strategy?
Jason Falls: It’s become apparent to me that many companies are looking at engagement as a goal. So they manufacture lists of posts to hopefully get more likes and shares so they can produce metrics of more likes and shares for their bosses or clients. Their goal is to drive more metrics, which they look at collectively and call “engagement.”
They think it’s something they have to force, but engagement is not a goal, it’s a result. It happens organically. The goal should be to produce content that is so good that people have to talk about it. When your goal is to share an idea or share content or elicit some reaction, engagement is going to happen naturally.
“The goal should be to produce content that is so good that people have to talk about it.”
eMarketer: In what ways do marketers conform traditional advertising strategies to social media? How does that affect the way fans and followers respond to them?
Falls: I did an experiment a few weeks ago with the Dachis Social Business Index, which is basically an algorithmic ranking of top social brands in the world based on comments, likes and shares. I picked out 20 or so consumer-facing brands, and I created some lists on Twitter and a friends list on Facebook so I could only see those brands.
I went through 25 or so posts to see content from these brands. The Cliffs Notes version was “me me me me me me me me me.” These are the companies that supposedly get it. They all talk about themselves. I don’t know about you, but when someone walks into the room and starts a conversation by talking about themselves, they turn me off. If you’re going to post nothing but ad copy and coupons and deals and stuff like that, I’m going to get bored with you really quick.
“If you’re going to post nothing but ad copy and coupons and deals and stuff like that, I’m going to get bored with you really quick.”
eMarketer: Do you see Pinterest and Google+ as potential avenues for direct response like Facebook and Twitter?
Falls: Google+ is turning out to be a true engagement platform. When brands go there to ask questions, people really answer. Pinterest has found utility in how people behave. It’s visually driven to the point that if you’re interested, you can be taken right to a place. For travel and tourism that makes a lot of sense. You can sell what you do through visual elements a lot easier than you can with other elements.
eMarketer: What do you consider the measure of social media success?
Falls: I’d say it really depends on your goal for social media. If you look at it as a platform for customer service and measuring satisfaction, you can do that. If you are using it to build community, an army of advocates, there are lots of metrics there. To drive sales, you have to measure how many you sold: How did they get there, through Facebook or Twitter, or through a blog? The problem is many people don’t know what they’re trying to get out of social media, so they’re not sure what to measure.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other articles, “Companies Use Social to Track and Follow Up on Brand Mentions” and “Online Takes Bigger Piece of Ad Spend in Brazil.”