Recently while brainstorming some ideas for a client program I typed the following sentence:
“Facebook Fan Page with (and here I listed out some incentives and interaction guidelines).“
I looked at it for a minute and then changed it to read:
“Facebook Fan Page with (and here I listed out some incentives and interaction guidelines) but only for those who take the positive action of becoming a Fan of this Page.“
I use that phrase “positive action” a lot in conversations about social media programs because I like the way it describes for me a number of things: From becoming a fan of a Facebook page to subscribing to a blog’s RSS feed and a lot things in-between. It’s different for me than popular terms such as “engagement” in that it doesn’t necessarily imply a conversation is happening, which isn’t always the case.
More to the point, not all program elements need to contain a conversational element that’s wide open to the general public. Comments on blog posts – both your own and those written by others which need responding to – are great and should absolutely be part of the strategy and execution if that’s going to be in the furtherance of program goals.
But aside from those conversational elements there are a lot of program components that require people on the outside to do something. Those are positive actions and they have value that go beyond the hard metrics associated with them. Often they’re not add-ons but are intrinsic parts of a program that, upon further inspection, hold deeper meanings.
Take one of my favorite metrics, RSS subscribers. Sure there’s a hard metric there – how many subscribers a blog has at any given time can be quantified and entered into a spreadsheet for all the world to see – but beyond that is an intent. Those people have made the decision that the content of that site is worth staying up to date on for whatever reason and so have jumped through the hoops necessary to add it to their RSS reader.
Twitter followers, Facebook Fans and all those are great and have their place in specific plans. And they each represent the same sort of “positive action” even if the hurdles those services have in place are relatively low.
Real analysis of metrics sees not only the engagement points but also the intent points and includes how that’s valuable in advance of the goals the program is set to achieve. Don’t just measure the end result of the action that’s been taken, make sure to measure the thinking behind the decision to take that action in the first place.