To model social media engagement, it's time to start thinking like the person, rather than the salesman.
A new article in Fast Company by Steve Kerho, "Social Utility: A New Imperative For Social Content," mentions the idea that engagement might not be the funnel or journey we so often try to model it as. What if engagement exists as a number of states that a person or would-be-consumer can occupy and move back and forth between? Rather than conceiving of engagement as as salesperson would, as steps on a path to a purchase, perhaps it is more productive to think of it as different stages of relating, some of which may involve purchasing.
The sales funnel idea has been around since St. Elmo Lewis' 1898 AIDA model, and views the customer experience from the mono-manical perspective of Making the Sale. But social media is a more complex world than the used car lot, so why do we keep trying to cram people into a funnel? As the article says:
Much has been written of late arguing that the customer journey, or purchase funnel, is no longer relevant because consumers do not migrate through this process in a clean linear fashion. While it is true that consumers bounce around from “familiarity” to “consideration” to “shopping” in seemingly random ways, it is also true that marketers still need to provide the appropriate content and experiences at each of these stages.
Seems far more likely that people have other agendas or motivations than just making a purchase or donation, and their social media relationship with an organization might develop in various ways that may or may not include a purchase. We know, for instance, that a large percentage of Facebook fans are very interested in discounts and promotional deals. From their point of view, the discount may be the most important aspect, rather than the product or the brand. Maybe they are traveling the Road to Discounts, rather than the marketing funnel. --WTP
Thanks to Freelance Switch for the image, where you'll find another article about the marketing funnel: "Why the Marketing Funnel Doesn't Work."
--Bill Paarlberg is editor of The Measurement Standard blog and newsletter, and of Katie Paine's book “Measure What Matters.” He is also editor of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, which will be published this year by Wiley.
Follow Bill Paarlberg on Twitter.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.