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The Science of Engagement

Social media is a key resource for personal and professional networking. Brands and organizations, however, can gain even greater value from understanding the science behind how individuals engage with each other. Engagement is the result of a brand or organization interacting with its stakeholders through of a variety of initiatives or touch points. The goal of this process is to create a meaningful effect that modifies attitudes and/or behaviour. When it comes to the science behind engagement, however, an empirical definition describes social media in its purest form as a way to connect and engage in order to illicit a response through a shared experience, dependent on two-way communication.

In preparation for the book Stand Out Social Marketing, Mike Lewis analyzed how brands can make the most of their social media strategy through engagement science, which seeks to understand the science behind tracking and increasing social engagement. It explains how companies and brands can best use social media with a strong and measurable approach. A few simple strategies have already demonstrated success in developing and expanding an interactive and engaged audience. Examples include the optimal timing of a post, its best placement across multiple channels, and its estimated ideal lifespan.

Data from engagement science studies show the best time of day to post is between 1 pm and 4 pm weekdays, with Friday containing the highest post volume throughout the week and Thursday as best for single post potential. Surprisingly, Saturday is ideal for overall engagement and interaction. Posting on more than two social media channels can extend the lifetime of a post and the number of interactions it generates. The lifetime of a post (defined by the percentage of engagement over the first ten days) is also dependent on the particular social media channels selected, with the highest post lifetime on Twitter (100%) and Facebook (99%), and lower lifetimes on YouTube (34%) and WordPress (7%).

Clearly, one of the keys to creating a large social network presence is to get people to interact with you through your posts. Companies seeking to manage social networking profiles may want to reconsider exactly when content is being published as well as through which channels it is distributed. It is clear that planning to announce your latest blog post or findings through a posting at the wrong time and place may ultimately sabotage your efforts. Like the fallen tree in the woods, if a post happens and no one is there to engage with it, does it “make a sound”? As a developing field, engagement science will hopefully allow us to better answer this question and quantify its effect going forward.

By Josephine Di Laura and Mario Nacinovich