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Monday, March 24, 2008

Engagement = Ingagement + Outgagement

We interrupt our previously scheduled metaphor series to bring you this breaking news.

Sam Lawrence was positing on Twitter that Blogrolls should be automatic, similar to how many tag clouds are created, and show what you are actually reading. I replied with the notion that even a defined blog roll would benefit from more tag cloud features to show relevance to you based on visits, links, RSS subscriptions or other engagement.

Attribution: Scott Fidd via FlickrEngagement. What a fantastic buzzword. It's delightfully squishy but often placed on the hard pedestal of metrics like Recency of Visit, bookmarks, and comments . These should be more accurately referred to as Ingagement. They are happening on your site and when the visitor leaves your site, their ingagement ends (and often so does measuring).

Outgagement on the other hand, looks at what people are saying about you off your site. But unless someone has dedicated their site to talking about your company, the 'who' behind the 'what' doesn't have as much impact. The metrics in outgagement are already established (informally) in how the social blogosphere works. Things like out-bound links in a post, number of posts on a topic, and groups within social networks.

The future of metrics for social media is not in building aggregate information about your customer base but collecting public information about your individual customers.

I've put it in bold to capture your attention with that line but I can't take credit for it. It's not a new concept. Social media people have been talking around this idea through the lens of 'relationships' for a while now. The trick is scale.

Enter lifestreaming. Now, I don't want to be crass but the value that individuals are getting out of following the streams of their friends at sites like FriendFeed, SocialThing, Profilatic, and others would be gold if companies could learn to harness it. It takes the hard work out of collecting the information, they just need a way to tap it (rather than capture it) and marry it with their Ingagement metrics. (Ok, I simplified that problem but that's the heart of it.)

Another tool that could automate the parsing of customer data is Many Eyes. Or at least the interesting applications that Sam has used it for (it was manual work, his re-post was another tweet that sparked this post). If you can find a customer's blog (during outgagement tracking) then the topics relevant to them can quickly be determined. Now, this is far from perfect because you won't know tone. But, it gives you a place to start and increases the context.

And now to tie it all back together to the question of scale. Once you have your customer records created, you can build your target segments from the ground up. Of course, the application of old-style segmentation will still have it's purposes but consider the two scenarios:

  • 18-24 year olds who recently purchased a product from your company
  • 18-24 year olds who are passionate about something (and your product relates)
What kinds of different strategies can you use when trying to connect with those two audiences? tag: ingagement+outgagement
Image Attribution: Scott Fidd via Flickr


Sam Lawrence said...

Love this post.

There's no reason to have manual clouds or blogrolls. Something needs to scrape what I'm posting and automatically create my cloud.

Something needs to scrap what I'm reading and show it in a compelling way (love your ideas).

Basically, all this comes down to smarter and more accurate information about other people so that we can connect in more meaningful ways.

sMoRTy71 said...

First, thanks for mentioning Profilactic. We appreciate it.

Second, we definitely understand the value of and potential applications for the data being aggregated. More to come on that soon.

Thanks again.

Nedra Weinreich said...

I love your equation, but I interpreted it very differently before I read your post. I was thinking that ingagement would be how a person takes in information about your product/company (e.g., by reading your blog, using your product, paying attention to your advertising) and outgagement would be when they then spread the word or interact w/you (e.g., on their blog, in comments on your blog, word of mouth to friends, etc.). Thanks - you got me thinking!

Scott Monty said...

John, this is the kind of thinking that's going to help move social media marketing into more serious consideration - I really like it.

You might be interested to read what my colleague Greg Verdino wrote a couple of months ago about measuring blog success using two sets of metrics: one inward-looking, the other outward-facing. He referred to these metrics as participation (outside-in) and conversation (inside-out).

Greg defined participation as measures of the activities that happen at your blog and directly between a blogger and his/her readership -- the quantitative counts of traffic, subscriptions, time spent and the relative popularity of various posts, among other things.

And he defined conversation as measures of your ability to influence the world around you -- a set of external metrics that provide some indication of the level of influence your blog (and you, as a blogger, of course) have beyond the confines of your own pages.

Taken together, they provide a pretty robust sense of your impact. But as you imply, there's much, much more. But at least it's a start.

John Johansen said...

Nedra: That's funny. I wouldn't have considered your interpretation until you showed me.
I'm glad you did, I like that turn-about.

Scott: I'm going to have to read that post. It sounds like Greg is ahead of the pack on this.

I'm going to look into what everyone's said and probably make some updates later. Thanks.

Nedra Weinreich said...

Thanks for the inspiration! Just wrote about my take on your equation:"