The more canny business will always consider the importance of measuring user engagement whenever they undertake a strategy or project. After all, you want to know whether all your hard work has had an impact, what results did it accrue, was it worth the effort and will you be doing this all over again.
Hopefully the result of measuring user engagement will have been profitable, but some businesses might benefit from raising their heads above the parapet and venturing more into the world of commenting. Scary, yes, but rewarding, definitely!
This post, complete with infographic below, explores how commenting plays a bit part in measuring user engagement. Much of this happens anonymously and discretely, but I would like to show you the benefits of drawing participants out of their shells so you can get to know them a bit better.
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Actually get them to do something
This will probably be quite difficult, especially if you are starting from new, you have been quite relaxed about this before, or you've suddenly woken up to the benefits of actually talking to your audience, followers, delegates, buyers, regular returners or anyone who actually notices your business.
The simplest action is to provide social engagement buttons on your blog. Readers click on the icon they recognise to either show their approval as a like, or share your post with their friends and fans on the social platform of their choice. The latter will increase your post's reach to a bigger audience than before.
Unfortunately, especially on blogs, the act of commenting has declined. The incentive is much more prevalent on social media, where it can happen in real-time. But comments can be retained for further reference or as social proof evidence you have an audience who makes the effort to engage.
People like participating in things
If you want to increase your social engagement, set up a poll on social media. Use an open question and easy answers which cannot be resisted. Any reaction to this shows there are people interested, so eventually this could be taken in-house where you could gather the information of those who participated.
It's not just polls. Consider creating questionnaires which educate, entertain or inspire with their results. These could contain fields which encourage players to write comments as well as choose an answer. Or there are contests, social forums, link parties and encouraging user generated content from your regular buyers.
Another way of gathering more information from interested visitors is through lead generation forms. Offer this with an incentive, such as an e-book or some other prize. This allows you to gather their name and email into your newsletter list, where you can communicate with them more regularly in the future.
How often do you ask for feedback?
Provide somewhere for your customers to not only say what they think, but also to ask questions as part of customer service. This is another form of measuring user engagement. Here people have the opportunity to write to you, whether it is praise, disgust, suggestions, a problem which needs solving, or a request for more information.
Don't undervalue the power of feedback. You can even enter into the social environment and do some social listening. Find out where your customers or potential buyers go to socially converse, and sit back to hear what people are saying to each other about your business, brand or even your competitors.
Word of mouth is another powerful tool at your disposal. Getting your loyal fans to chat in social forums about your business is an excellent way to create trust in your brand. Get them to use a specific hashtag so you can track these conversations and the responses they receive.
Provide a safe haven for your fans
If you are able to win your audience or fans over, there is a higher chance they will want to return for more. Make them feel comfortable, appreciated, wanted, valued and welcome. Offer them a community so they can talk to each other, as well as you. Work on the social element to get more comments.
This could be via your blog, but actually why not take advantage of groups on Facebook, LinkedIn or anywhere else they usually congregate. Take advantage of real-time conversations turning into full-fledged discussions on relevant and valuable topics. As them to share their opinions, ideas and experiences.
This is also another way to get vital feedback about whether your campaigns or projects have worked or not. You may even get some interesting suggestions or eye-opening inspiration from the people you are focusing on for measuring user engagement. Always a good idea to talk directly to the organ grinder rather than the monkey.
How easy is it to take action?
There is nothing more confusing than a website cluttered with too many call to actions. Remember people prefer a simple, easy to use site they can immediately understand and know what to do. Create separate pages for each of your projects, and direct the right people to each of them.
Make your social sharing buttons big and bright. How easy it is to find the commenting box and use it? Eliminate any hazards such as registering to comment or coping with CAPTCHA. You don't want to dampen their enthusiasm and turn them off even before they've started.
Make your engagement activities obvious and easy to access, as well as enticing and relevant. Think which words are necessary to describe the benefits for your users. People will need to think what's in it for them before they venture into participating with anything. It needs to be worth their while as well as yours.
How do you go about measuring user engagement?
If you think measuring user engagement is all about how many visitors you got or impressions on an online advert, you need to think again. I am not talking about empty stats such as these figures and numbers. Unless you are focusing on bounce rates on your blog, which indicate whether readers have stayed on to find out more.
Measuring user engagement for me is recording how interested people have been. What actions have been taken and whether these have resulted in information which could be used again for the next campaign or project. It is their involvement which is what you should be measuring.
Let me know in the comments below your experiences in measuring user engagement for your business or events. We would love to hear from you.