Social Media: Forget LIKES, 3 reasons why you should focus on Engagement

Social Media: Forget LIKES, 3 reasons why you should focus on Engagement

By Benjamin Juru

I love social media, in fact I love the way brands are grappling with the new exciting platforms to engage customers, brilliant stuff. Now that you’ve entered the social media space, you’re now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn blah blah blah good stuff in fact great stuff and also now that you've a satisfactory fanbase, I want to highlight some of the key social media metrics you need to keep an eagle eye on and sorry if I’m going to burst your bubble, forget LIKES, FOLLOWERS, yep forget about tracking those two and focus on Engagement.

The beauty about digital media, in fact the advantage in chief over traditional media remains the ability to track and measure your activities with surgical accuracy! What gets done, get measured and digital media enables us to accurately measure the success of our activities and the ROI for the comfort of our fellow accountants. In this article I want to focus on the key social media metrics that are of utmost importance, reach and engagement rate. Reach is the number of people whom you reach with your posts, tweets and updates whereas engagement is the number of people that you’ve engaged with or who have liked, commented, retweeted, shared and or favorited your updates. To the untrained eye, it is the number of fans who are engaging with you on social media relative to the number of people you’re reaching. For those of us who love mathematical derivations it is simply: Engagement Rate =

Social media is all about engagement; it’s about socializing with your fans, shaping brand perceptions, creating relationships and converting your fans into leads. All these elements speak of engagement, the more reason why you need to tilt your radar towards creating and maintaining high engagement levels on your properties.


This is probably one of the saddest things you will ever come across especially for those who are in the game of “Outliking” your competitors. LIKES I must say are impressive numbers to look at particularly if you’ve thousands of them and can impress your digitally gullible boss. However if you’re still focusing on LIKES as an indicator of the success of your social media activities then I’m sorry to burst your bubble, forget LIKES and focus on ENGAGEMENT. Whilst it’s true admittedly so that engagement is a function of LIKES but focusing on the latter will not do you any world of good. Social media is all about building communities engaging with them through participating in the consumer conversations.

The reason why I say forget LIKES is because of these factors:

  • Engagement is indicative of the quality of your content

Let’s face it, the reason why we are on Facebook or social media is to connect with friends and not to follow brands and it’s only then when a brand shares something that resonates with our needs do we then engage. I’m yet to see any individual who signs up on social media to follow brands but it is the duty of the marketer to break through the friendship circles and get noticed. To achieve this, it takes fresh exciting content that forces consumers to notice you and then engage with your brand. If you upload poor, dull and uninteresting content chances are no one will engage with you and despite having millions of fans/LIKES if they are not engaging with you, whats the point!

  • The battle of the Algorithm

The other reason why you need to focus on engagement and not LIKES is the algorithm, the marketer’s nemesis! Owners of the social media platforms are curating their algorithms to punish those who are focused on LIKES and not an engaged community. I wrote about these algorithms here and you can look at it but the key thing is that, if a fan doesn’t engage with your brand for sometime on Facebook your updates will stop appearing on their newsfeed. This algorithm change is premised on the fact that if I don’t comment, like share or clickthrough your posts/page the message I’m sending is that “Zuckerberg and team please stop sending me brand X updates because I’m just not interested in them” It’s brutal but we have to learn to live with it. Imagine you’ve 1 million fans who do not engage and nothing is appearing in their newsfeed despite and I repeat despite them having liked your page. Social media is fast becoming a ruthless jungle for marketers I tell you!

  • Engagement leads to conversion

Another key role social media plays in the digital media ecosystem is conversion. Conversion is when your fans complete a predetermined action on your website, shop etc in plain terms, it is when you say visit our shop and a customer walks in as a direct result of that call to action. I’m sure you will agree with me, you cannot convert a fan who has just liked your page but one who has engaged because it gives you an opportunity to convince them during the conversation and nurture the lead until they convert. Lead generation and nurturing are functions of engagement and not likes, we need to ensure that our content is engaging at all times and we have a team a resource that is engaging with fans at any given time.

In conclusion, in your digital KPIs tracking sheet and all those board packs please remove number of likes, likes growth rate, quality of likes etc it’s a good measure but a better metric to monitor is engagement rate. I will in the next article share the other metrics we need to monitor in our digital marketing strategy.

Let me know what you think in the comments below:

Comments (1)

I am not a marketer, but I do completely understand what you are saying Mr. Author. I wouldn't agree less with you. It doesn't add value to merely have a KPI of likes as they do not convert to become real business. Real business is when you engage (as you have rightfully put it through). Quite an interesting read I should say... Alphonce - 19 June 2014

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