In the world of online marketing, there are few things more valuable or more important than customer engagements. “Engagements” is a somewhat general term that applies to any meaningful action taken by a customer to, with, or otherwise relating to your brand. This could be in the form of a “like” or share on a social media platform, a comment on a blog, or even a conversion (in the best scenario).
These engagements vary wildly in terms of the amount of effort required by users to partake in the action and in terms of how much value they bring company; some simultaneously serve as opportunities for relationship development and indicators that can move your market research or analytics forward. Facebook, recognizing user engagements as a critical factor for its own success (and the success of individuals and companies that use it), has recently taken to diversifying its customer engagement experience.
Let’s examine some of the ways it’s done this.
Facebook is still around because it makes a ton of money on advertising—but it doesn’t shove ads down users’ throats, either. It actually offers an ever-increasing range of ad preferences users can set to increase the relevance of the ads they see (and filter out bad ones). For example, users can click to find out “why” they’ve been shown a certain ad, and if they are offended or perplexed by an ad, they may opt to remove it and opt-out of similar ads in the future.
There’s a limited power to this, since Facebook still needs to make money somehow, but there’s a critical point here: Facebook is trying to make users a more interactive part of the traditional marketing/advertising experience. Rather than being passive participants, they are now becoming more active in their own advertising environments. This could potentially serve to fight back against the ad-focused backlash and resulting lack of user trust that’s negatively affected the ad industry for years.
Next, there’s the organic audience targeting feature that Facebook rolled out just a few weeks back. It’s deceptively simple, and integrated into the UI that you’re already used to, so don’t be surprised if you’ve missed it.
Whenever a company or audience drafts a post of any kind, it can now access the “Audience Optimization” feature to selectively distribute that content to only certain segments of the population. There are two main ways to do this.
In the “Audience Restrictions” mode, you’ll be able to filter out audience members who naturally wouldn’t like your content. For example, you can set a specific age range, target a specific gender, or exclude certain locations from the group of people who will eventually see your post.
In the “Preferred Audience” mode, you’ll be able to set certain interests that your target demographics might be into, giving you a way to align your content with audience members that have shown a clear affinity for a similar subject or product.
With audience targeting, brands are given more options to ensure their content gets in front of the right people. Doing so increases not only the total possibility for engagements, but also the quality of engagements. To the average user, there won’t be any noticeable differences—but soon, they’ll start noticing better and more appropriate forms of content entering their newsfeeds.
Emoji’s are nothing new; they’ve been slowly taking over the world of online communication for the past several years, and now Facebook has found a way to use them to diversify the customer engagement experience.
Rather than just having the traditional, straightforward “like” option, users can now choose between six total possible reactions to posts. There’s one each for “love,” “wow,” “haha,” “angry,” and “hate.”
On the surface, this may not seem like much of a change; after all, users are still hitting a button to passively engage with something. But with five new dimensions of response, the social user engagement game may be turned on its head.
For starters, users can now respond to a wider variety of posts. If they don’t genuinely like something, but feel strongly toward it, they have a more specific way to let their feelings be known. Also, users who might otherwise refrain from posting a long comment might find solace in the idea that they can express themselves with a single emoji. The combination of these effects means you’ll see more users responding to your posts—if you know how to take advantage of the new system.
The benefits don’t stop there, either. You’ll also gain more insight into your customers’ sentiments. Rather than wading through tons of qualitative, subjective comments, you have some level of quantitative data you can use to measure the relative influence of a piece.
We live in an exciting era for user engagement. Social media platforms, where user engagements were once limited to one-dimensional, passive gestures, are becoming profoundly more diverse, and Facebook is leading the pack. In my estimation, Facebook has a ton of new features and functions to add, and their user experience improvements will never quite be complete, and in addition, many other platforms will soon follow suit. The next few years will be interesting ones. But in any case, users have more tools than they’ve ever had before for engaging with brands, and as a result, both marketers and individuals are having better online exchanges.