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Well done the Red Bull Formula 1 team for taking first and second places in yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

And well done to the Red Bull social media team for reaching 9,000,000 fans on their Facebook page.

A good week all round for everyone associated with the brand.

Red Bull seems to be doing lots of the right things and doing them well.

It does (lots of) stuff.

(As opposed to saying stuff about itself.)

It has ideas that are worth advertising.

(As opposed to advertising ideas.)

It generates content of high quality in high quantities.

(“Holy Shit” indeed!)

They switch effortlessly between the real and virtual worlds.

It must be one of the most engaging brands on the internet.

9,000,000 fans on Facebook (up to 9,293,146 at the time of writing in the 5 days since the 9 million fans post).

84,745 subscribers to its YouTube Channel, and video content that has been viewed 75,158,750 times.

71,414 followers on Twitter.

But I wonder how it measures and values engagement.

The Facebook posts above highlight the burning issue for packaged goods brands in social spaces.

13,529 people “liked” the 9 million fan post.

In absolute terms 13,529 is a high number of people.

But it’s only 0.15% of the 9 million fan universe.

(That’s 1 in 665.)

(And “liking” is a low effort, low involvement form of engagement).

Commenting on a post like this requires more effort and involvement.

That’s why only 775 people did so, compared to the 13,529 likes.

(That’s only 0.0086% of the universe – 1 in 11,613.)

How really “engaged” are those 9,000,000 fans?

What proportion of them ever “engages” by liking, commenting or otherwise participating after the initial act of liking the page?

What proportion engages more than once?

What proportion of the fan base are “super fans” that regularly engage, however “regularly” is defined?

How do you put a value on this segmented engagement?

And how does that return stack up against the investment in content and active community management?

I don’t have the answers here, but these are the kind of questions that need to be (continually) asked if you’re going into these social spaces with your eyes properly open.

These are particularly tough questions for packaged goods brands.

As an enlightened fmcg client said to me recently, “Why would anyone want to visit my website?”

This question was not reflective of a defeatist attitude on his part, nor of a lack of confidence in his brand. Far from it.

He was quite rightly asking the most important question in digital marketing – “Why?”

As in “Why would they?”

I couldn’t admire Red Bull more. They seem to be asking themselves this question more than most judging by the consistent quality of their content.

But even they are having to work really hard, on Facebook at least, to turn that effort into engagement that is both broad and deep.

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