So you need to justify social media marketing investment?  According to econsultancy, it’s still all about the big “E” – Engagement, and the good folks have listed 35 engagement metrics for you, to choose from/creatively combine and show what a big engaging bang you’ll get from your social media marketing buck. Hmm.

Let’s remind ourselves how the ad industry defines “engagement” –

“Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.”

Great example of impenetrable marketing jargon. I think, in plain English, we’re talking about “attention” here… (but maybe I’m missing something; the sexual connotations of “turning on”?)

In practice, engagement – at least online – has come to mean “interaction”, not attention – primarily because interaction can be directly measured and attention can’t.  CPE (cost per engagement) campaigns measure interaction with advertising material (sometimes with a time-spent dimension), a behavioural marker for attention.

So just get your media monitoring agency to tally up interactions listed below to calculate your CPE in the vast echo chamber that is the Social Web.  They’ll thank you for it.

But before you do, ask yourself the big question, does engagement shift stock?

Until we can link engagement to business returns, engagement is about as useful to marketers as a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys…

Personally, I’d prefer to stick with the simple social commerce metric – sales.  Dollars spent to Dollars returned, Period.

The standard refutation from marketers who think ROI is too simplistic – and would complicate things with non-ROI metrics – is that marketing works in a complex manner, beyond simple stimulus-response.  I’d agree, and add that sure we need to know what happens in the behavioural “black box” between stimulus and response (and engagement may well be a mediating variable). But until we have established a link between engaging stimulus and commercial response, social media marketing is all sizzle and no steak.

The irony is that about the only interaction not listed below is the one that involves a purchase…

35 Social Media Engagement Metrics (to use if you’ve demonstrated the value of engagement)

    1. Alerts (register and response rates / by channel / CTR / post click activity)
    2. Bookmarks (onsite, offsite)
    5. Email subscriptions
    6. Fans (become a fan of something / someone)
    7. Favourites (add an item to favourites)
    8. Feedback (via the site)
    9. Followers (follow something / someone)
    10. Forward to a friend
    11. Groups (create / join / total number of groups / group activity)
    12. Install widget (on a blog page, Facebook, etc)
    13. Invite / Refer (a friend)
    14. Key page activity (post-activity)
    15. Love / Like this (a simpler form of rating something)
    16. Messaging (onsite)
    17. Personalisation (pages, display, theme)
    18. Posts
    19. Profile (e.g. update avatar, bio, links, email, customisation, etc)
    20. Print page
    21. Ratings
    22. Registered users (new / total / active / dormant / churn)
    23. Report spam / abuse
    24. Reviews
    25. Settings
    26. Social media sharing / participation (activity on key social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc)
    27. Tagging (user-generated metadata)
    28. Testimonials
    29. Time spent on key pages
    30. Time spent on site (by source / by entry page)
    31. Total contributors (and % active contributors)
    32. Uploads (add an item, e.g. articles, links, images, videos)
    33. Views (videos, ads, rich images)
    34. Widgets (number of new widgets users / embedded widgets)
    35. Wishlists (save an item to wishlist)