It’s surprising how much focus too many marketers still place on the nebulous metric of “engagement.” Yes, social media engagement is an important measure of consumer response. It’s an indicator that your brand is making some sort of connection with people. And yes, some people actually do seem to “care” enough to like, comment, share, or click on a link. But if you’ve been obsessing on the relatively newfangled measuring of people who have taken an action on your Facebook post, tweet, or pin, you likely have been discounting the value of two, far more important (and albeit “old school”) metrics— Reach & Frequency.

For brand marketing, reaching the right number of consumers with the right frequency is definitely more important than driving “engagement.” Just look at the history of advertising effectiveness in traditional media. Findings from a 2012 Facebook study conducted in partnership with Datalogix have proven the brand value of online reach and frequency. The research demonstrated that 99% of sales generated from online branding ad campaigns were from people that saw, but did not interact (“engage”) with ads— while optimizing for effective frequency saw a 40% increase in ROI with the same budget.

Wow. And yet, many advertisers and their ad agencies still have engagement blinders on. Let’s illustrate through the following scenario … Say your brand has a goal to achieve a 10% post engagement rate— defined as the % of people who interacted with the content over those who were exposed to the content in the news feed. The first post falls short of the goal, however the second post achieves your desired engagement rate and the metrics break down like this...

Post #1
50 users engaged /
1000 people reached x 10
= 5% engagement rate

Post #2
50 users engaged /
500 people reached x 100
= 10% engagement rate

As you can see from the performance of post #2, even though the brand doubled its engagement rate (from 5% to 10%, hurray!), only half the number of people were reached by the content (500 instead of 1000, yikes!).

So what’s the pivotal takeaway here? If you’re stuck on optimizing content for engagement rate, then the way you are measuring can run the risk of de-valuing reach & frequency. Remember, mass exposure to brand messaging has been proven time and again to grow brands and grow revenue. So reach for it with some frequency.