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Conversations to Conversions: Why Social Needs More Than Engagement

Shaquille O’Neal is a notoriously bad free throw shooter. His career percentage from the line was 52.7%. He also has four championships, three finals MVP titles, three All Star MVP titles, and was the 1999-2000 season MVP and the 1992-1993 Rookie of the Year.

How to Increase Social Conversions

If coaches had measured Shaq by his free throw percentage alone, he’d have had a much shorter career.

Conversely, if teams had ignored his free throw shooting and only focused on total points, the “Hack-a-Shaq” method of play (intentionally fouling him so he’d be forced to shoot free throws) would have never been developed.

But NBA coaches want to win games, not make the most free throws. Every piece of their strategy needs to work together, and every stat needs to be viewed in context.

If you’re a marketer, this should sound familiar. Data is only as good as what we do with it, and looking at a particular metric in a vacuum helps no one. We need the complete picture. We need to see everything from conversations to conversions.

The Engagement Debate

At our annual LIFT Social conference, a healthy debate started. At the center of that debate: engagement.

In his closing keynote on day one, Nate Elliott told folks that they needed to think beyond engagement, because it’s not a success metric. Some adamantly agreed.

Some disagreed.

This type of debate is exactly why we throw this conference. We want every social marketer – and marketers in general – to challenge the logic behind everything they do, and everything they measure.

So, Should I stop measuring engagement?

That’s a more complex question than it seems, and the answer will differ from brand to brand, but our belief at Simply Measured is that engagement cannot be the only thing you measure.

Elliott cited a ton of research that denounced engagement as a success metric. It does not equate to revenue. But it can be a signal of some important marketing objectives, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In order to drive revenue, your brand first has to drive awareness. As our CRO, D. Wayne Poole, likes to say, “How am I supposed to buy a Fitbit if I don’t know Fitbit exists?”

While engagement may not equate to revenue, we’ve seen time and time again that it can be an indicator of awareness, and can be an important signal in the “consideration” phase of the buyer’s journey.

So, What Should I Be measuring?

The point is that this shouldn’t be an if/or conversation. You should think about the metrics that tie back to your broader goals, keep your brand top of mind, and move people through the buyer’s journey. But you can’t do that without seeing the complete picture: everything from conversations to conversions.

By focusing exclusively on engagement, you miss this context.

How to Measure the Complete Picture

In his session “The Blueprint for Social Success: Setting the Foundation for a Breakthrough Year,” Uri Bar-Joseph, Simply Measured’s VP of Marketing, walked the audience through a framework designed to help users build their social program holistically, focusing on four key elements:

  • Strategy
  • Planning
  • Programs
  • Measurement

The main message? Aligning measurement with programs, and programs with strategy. Notice that metrics are specific to the program, because each is different and has a different purpose.

BlueprintEngagement is a good metric to help you understand the success of your planned campaigns and published content, but it is less valuable in other areas. There are many other metrics that can help you identify what is successful and optimize based on your findings. Social can’t be pinned down by one specific metric.

When You See the Complete Picture, You Can Paint a Better One

If you caught our opening keynote, you may have noticed that we announced the first-ever social attribution solution, allowing marketers to connect everything that happens on social, including the content that’s shared through dark social, directly to the point of purchase.

When you combine this with our world-class social analytics product and our social analytics API,  you can finally see the complete picture.

APIYou don’t need to let data overwhelm you. You just need a solution that helps you see the complete picture. Want to learn more about how Simply Measured can help? Go here to request a demo of Simply Measured’s complete social analytics solution, and download the “How to Increase Social Conversions” guide below for some pro tips on increasing social conversions, whether your goal is web traffic, foot traffic, or straight-up purchases. 

Get everything you need to analyze the metrics that matter

How to Increase Social Conversions


Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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