[Fans of bacon should read this version instead.]
Do a quick search on Twitter or Google and you’ll instantly find 412 653 ways to encourage people to engage more with your product. Reply to people, ask questions, use polls, give a call to action, request videos and photos, give them user accounts. The list goes on and on.
Why do we do this? Because research says that when users are more engaged with something, they spend more money on it. And we all like money.
But wait. Something i paid little attention to in my introductory statistics class is nagging me. It’s telling me not to leap to assumptions. It’s telling me that just because someone spends more time on something does not mean they will consequently spend more money on something. It’s telling me that correlation does not equal causation.
You see, people who are more engaged with something, a website, a shoe company, a kitchen supply shop are already invested in it, more than people who are less engaged with something. These people are more engaged because they like the company. They buy the product because they like the company. They do not buy the product because they are engaged with the company.
It’s very easy to forget the direction of relationships among variables. Sure, you can convince a bunch of people to become more engaged, and sure some of them will grow to like the company, and sure some of them will make a purchase. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get a bunch of vegetarians to eat bacon by convincing them to create a user profile on your bacon website and share bacon recipes with them. The common denominator isn’t engagement. It’s the bacon. It’s always the bacon.