Facebook to rank applications by Interaction –not Engagement

Facebook announced that it will be ranking it’s applications not by total number of users, but by engagement. Certainly an evolutionary step forward. Early on, I was trying to define the formula of engagement, so I’ve got a pretty good sense of what it is and what it’s not. Venture Beat covered the story, but I think they got the attributes mixed up between attention and interaction.

[Facebook is confusing Engagement with Interaction, which is a completely different attribute to measure behavior, our industry needs to come to agreement on terms]

Facebook isn’t really measuring Engagement, they’re measuring Interaction.
The four attributes they mentioned are elements of a user interacting with the site:

These touch points are:
– Canvas Page Views
– Link Clicks in FBML
– Mock-Ajax Form Submission
– Click-to-Play Flash

Facebook measurement, an incomplete formula
There’s a few other attributes that Facebook is missing in it’s measurement, this is NOT an Engagement measurement. They’re missing Attention (how much time was spent on a particular widget app, Alex agrees) and Velocity (did the application get shared and spread among a network, and Influence, who share it with who? For example, if Scoble shared with his 5000ish friends, it’s certainly a higher weight than someone with 20.

As an industry, it’s really important that we start to come to agreement on terms and attributes. For what it’s worth, I predict they will release an engagement index, that will help them be the industry standard when it comes to defining a successful application. More thoughts on this topic from the Web Analytics Guru, or check out all my posts tagged Social Media Measurement.

Once I move into my new role, I may have the reach to standardize terms, give me time.

Update: Judah at Web Analytics Demystified (an authority) agrees.

  • Lead the way, Jeremiah.

  • Jeremiah, once again you have delivered incredibly valuable information. In terms of “velocity”, would a sub-metric (or contributing principle to defining this metric) be the speed with which a referrer shared the application? For example, “I saw, I played with it, I liked, I sat on it for two days, I then shared” versus “I saw, I played with it, I liked, I shared it five minutes later”? If speed is a valid principle in this context, what would the relative weight of “speed” be in terms of how it influences the “velocity” metric?

  • Eric

    Good question. When I think of Velocity, I’m thinking of measuring how ‘viral’ an idea or meme can get.

    A formula could be:
    How fast was it shared / number of locations and instances it was shared.

    For example, an application like iLike had way faster velocity than WalMart’s DOA sponsored group.

  • Excellent, thanks for the clarification.

  • Hey Jeremiah,

    Yeah, please standardize these terms! Be like L’Academie Francais but for web metrics, not the French language.

    I’d like to be more specific about the definitions of words like “attention,” “interaction” and “engagement” but it still seems like their specific meanings half-way overlap and are subject to debate.

    Meaning if I go with your definition of engagement, another web media guru will be like “no, that’s wrong because engagement isn’t X + Y + Z, it’s actually X + Y + A + B but not Z.”

    What is a poor blogger to do?

  • Eric

    Thanks for being so supportive, we all agree, we need to standardize, maybe this would be a good project for me to do at my new post!

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  • I’m researcher working currently on an european project about the management of the attention.
    I recently wrote a post on my blog about
    the notion of attention profile and measurement.

    http://nico.maisonneuve.free.fr/blog/index.php/2007/09/01/92/

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  • Eric

    Good question. When I think of Velocity, I'm thinking of measuring how 'viral' an idea or meme can get.

    A formula could be:
    How fast was it shared / number of locations and instances it was shared.

    For example, an application like iLike had way faster velocity than WalMart's DOA sponsored group.