Smart brands are abandoning engagement as a success metric. Why? Because engagement often reflects failure, not success. Consider:
- Negative reactions count as engagement. Facebook reports all interactions as engagement, regardless of whether users like your post or say they're angry or sad.
- Negative comments count as engagement. Last year a single United Airlines post generated tens of thousands of comments. The problem? They were all negative.
- Customer service complaints count as engagement. Ever had customers reply to your tweets saying "I've been on hold for 2 hours" or "Stop ignoring my claims"? USAA has. And that counts as engagement.
The latest example of negative engagement comes from Disney, whose social team tweeted a GIF of Pinocchio captioned, "when someone compliments you, but you're dead inside." Almost 6 million people saw the post, and nearly 30,000 retweeted it, before the company took it down.
Not exactly on-brand. But if you report engagement data, you're claiming this post was successful for Disney. I'm guessing Disney's head of marketing, Ricky Strauss, would beg to differ.
Engagement rate is not a harmless vanity metric. It's not "better than nothing" when you can't measure brand impact or sales. If you report engagement, you're often reporting failure as success. You're celebrating unhappy customers as happy ones, and claiming branding disasters as branding successes.
The good news is your company already has the tools and frameworks you need to effectively measure social. To learn how, download our free report "Social Measurement Secrets: 2018."