3. Engagement & Conversation

Metric description and application:

The key concepts of Engagement & Conversation are frequently discussed by social media advocates, but rarely defined with enough precision to guide sound measurement.

Members of the #SMMstandards Conclave, debated many of the different issues involved across channels, disciplines, and ultimately arrived at a core definition for both terms with key metrics for evaluating both areas. 



Approved and published June 2013

Open for comments until Dec 31, 203

Adopted January 2014


Version, date, and author(s):

Version 1.0

Provided for public comment November 2011

Authors: Katie Paine, Eve Stevens, Angela Jeffrey, and members of the #SMMstandards Conclave


Standards or guidelines:



Metric type:

Outtake or Outcome depending on program’s objectives


Detailed description:

This is the actual standard, and must include full description of how to use this metrics

-“Engagement” is defined as some action beyond exposure, and implies an interaction between 2 or more parties. Social media engagement is an action that typically occurs in response to content on an owned channel ( i.e. when someone engages with you).

-“Conversation” is defined as some form of online or offline discussion by customers, citizens, stakeholders, influencers, or other third parties. Social media conversation includes online discussion about your organization, brand, or relevant issues, whether via your channel or third party channels (i.e. when someone talks about you).


Best Practices:

-Any measure of Engagement & Conversation must be tied to the goals and objectives for your organization, brand or program.


-Engagement & Conversation both occur offline and online, and both must be considered if you intend to integrate your metrics with other marketing or communications efforts.


-Engagement counts such actions as: likes, comments, shares, votes, +1s, links, retweets, video views, content embeds, etc. Engagement types and levels are unique to specific channels, but can be aggregated for cross-channel comparison.


-Engagement should be measured by the total number of interactions within and/or across channels; the percentage of your audience engaged by day/week/month; and the percentage of engagement for each item of content an organization publishes.


-Conversation counts such items as blog posts, comments, tweets, Facebook posts/comments, video posts, replies, etc. Conversation types and levels are unique to specific channels but can be aggregated for cross-channel comparison.


-Conversation should be measured by the total number of items that mention the brand, organization or issue (within and/or across channels); the number of mentions within each item; and the opportunities to see (OTS) for each item, calculated by the readership at the time of posting (unique daily/monthly visitors, first-order fans/followers, view counts, etc.).


-Engagement manifests differently by channel but is typically measurable at various points based on effort required, inclusion of opinion and how shared with others.


-Engagement & Conversation could be, but are not necessarily, outcomes. Organizations may weight Engagement & Conversation types differently based on their goals, but Engagement & Conversation metrics should be consistent across an organization.


Source documents:

Engagement & Conversation are part of a series of standards being developed by the #SMMstandards Conclave.


Validity and reliability of the standard:

Testing is not required.


Team lead and contact information:

Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing LLC


Contact Us

Phone: 603-682-0735

Email: smmstandards@gmail.com

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