Social Media can be a powerful tool for online marketing, however, it can be difficult to decide which platform best suits your needs. Forrester recently conducted a study surveying more than 3 million user interactions with 2500 brand posts, across seven social networks. The study showed that the three main contenders for successful brand engagement in a social context were Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; with Instagram exceeding the engagement levels of the former two by far. But it is important to consider that there are different levels of consumer engagement.

For example, engagement might be anything from a ‘like’ on a photo, to a comment on a post, to a retweet or reblog of content.

Here are the six levels of consumer engagement:

1. Observation – when a user’s attention is drawn to your brand and they are aware of the conversation surrounding it, without necessarily wishing to interact with it.

2. Interest – when the user actively seeks to know your brand by clicking on links in your profile, exploring your content and following you.

3. Appreciation – when the user acknowledges your brand, through liking a post or displaying positive feedback.

4. Endorsement – this might be anything from reblogging, to retweeting and actively sharing your content across other social media platforms.

5. Contribution – when the user actively creates content and interacts with your social media profiles. They participate in active discussions involving your brand across various platforms.

6. Advocacy – where the user promotes your brand and actively represents it against criticism.

When analysing information across various social media platforms, it is important to consider what level of engagement you are drawing from your customers. Instagram draws high levels of engagement through likes, but at present it is impossible for users to share or repost pictures without first copying the link to a different platform. Twitter on the other hand, only has a 0.3% engagement level, (about 300 interactions per 1 million users), but 54% of those users took some sort of action after seeing branded media. 20% went to research the branded media, while 18% went on to further share the mention, though the most proactive users were those aged from 13-24.

While it is useful to know what levels of engagement you are receiving, you should also remember that engagement across social media represents only a fraction of the perception and perpetuation of your brand. It should be used as an indication of public opinion, and implemented as a tool to aid with your overall marketing strategy.