This week I read two chapters from “Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Audience Information System” by Philip Napoli. His chapters were all about user engagement in today’s media environment, and the chapters can are easily summarized by this one quote, “Everyone’s in an arms race to find out more about their users” (p. 89). This quote really resonated with me because of how true it is, no matter if you’re a professional or mere media user.
For instance, when I first started using Facebook back in my undergrad days as a mere user, the most significant form of “engagement” to users around me was how many friends you had. There were those people that would friend everyone they remembered from high school — whether they actually knew them or not — just to add more “friends” to their profile. Now today, as a social media professional, I don’t get overly excited about reach, or the number of people who like my organization’s page. I’m more interested in how many of those likes actually turn in to something, mainly proof that our users are listening and communicating back to us. Engagement has really grown as a buzz word in the past years and now, as Napoli points out, “the embrace of engagement as a new metric for understanding audience behavior is widespread” (p. 91).
Media is no longer “merely the passive vehicle through which consumers are exposed to advertisements…The content of the media should itself be thought of as providing experiences for the viewer or reader” (p. 98). While most of us have this figured out, Napoli notes that it is not completely clear where the effects of engagement occur. This is why there is still a variety of definitions and explanations of engagement.
Napoli has some other great points so check out his book. I also read “Why Comments Suck (And Some Ideas on Unsucking Them” by Xark. Now technically this article was written for newspapers, but the ideas behind why comments suck rang true for me as a blogger as well. The first reason for why comments sucked was because we don’t value them.
This made me think about my engagement through comments, and the article is right: I don’t value them. Sure I’ll read comments on other blogs and such now and then, and of course read them on my own blog. But how many times do I make a comment on someone else’s work? Not often enough. One solution for this is to just make a fresh start and do better. Put value into comments is an important aspect of generating engagement.
For the other tips and solutions, take a look at the article.
Since this post is getting longwinded, I won’t provide summaries of all the other readings for this week, but just leave you tidbits.
- “A Resource for Newsrooms: Measuring the Success of Audience Engagement Efforts” included a great timeline and guidelines for how to go about your engagement efforts.
- “Tweet, Tweet, Retweet: Conversational Aspects of Retweeting on Twitter” covers topics from a research study including: what people retweet and why people retweet. Even though it’s a study, you can still access it online without a password to enter the area.