Engagement in Social Media

roi of social mediaOn the surface, engagement in social media is relatively simplistic. Members of the social network “like” posts, comment on them, or share them. Or users create their own posts about brands or upload images containing branded products, which are posted to their own social profile or on that of the brand. Members can also choose to further engage brands by “Liking” them on Facebook, which transforms them into a fan of the brand or they can follow the brand on Twitter (on Google+ fans put brands into their circles). Taking these actions spreads the firm’s message to other members networked to the engaged user, thus amplifying the message.  Engagement also acts as tacit endorsement of the brand message that functions similarly to product placement in film and television. Wharton calls this earned messaging or earned marketing. But, engagement goes beyond these simple actions.

What is engagement in social media?

Engagement in social media must build and sustain a relationship looking more like a real friendship; one that conforms to societal notions of friendship including self-disclosure, expressiveness rather than instrumentality, regular interaction, and reciprocity . Engagement, then, must be authentic, looking more like a conversation between friends than a commercial message. Otherwise engagement in social media becomes a “polite way of talking about audience, consumer demographics, and segmentation while seeming sensitive to Internet users, the culture, and their community”.

By the same token, engagement in social media is much more than technology, although effective engagement requires an understanding of the technology underpinning social media. Understanding how messages travel through specific social media platforms, for instance, is critical for message sharing. Expertise in creating engagement tools, such as sharing buttons on blogs and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds is also required. While tools and technologies enable engagement, message content creates engagement.

Creating engagement in social media

Engagement marketing involves more than understanding computer and mobile technologies, apps, software, and computer language, just as traditional advertising is more than simply visual technology, music, video creation, and printing.  Engagement marketing is not merely a simple combination of traditional advertising and public relations, with elements of customer service thrown in, as suggested by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. Engagement in social media is a distinctly different type of communication supporting true relationships and requiring an approach with deep consumer understanding, support, and value extending beyond the exchange of commercial communication. Engagement in social media looks more like a commercial friendships, using authenticity, transparency, empathy, and celebrating the value of the network, not the firm.

Effective engagement in social media requires brand actions

But, engagement in social media can’t stop at creating a friendship with your network. You must exert subtle effort to get your target market to do what you need them to do — buy your brand. I interviewed some folks on Google+ and one of them stated this very well:

Like you said, engagement is a tricky definition to understand. I think each person has their own interpretation of the word. Some may feel it is an interaction between two people, a company and consumer, etc. I think social media engagement goes far beyond the comments back and forth. Yes, dialogue between two people or companies, or a combination of the two is necessary to properly engage one another, [but] I think engagement in social media has more to do with what is being done to entice a decision. Buy, or not to buy. Sign up, or don’t sign up. I would have to say engagement in social media is the formation of a relationship with the intent to make a decision or form an opinion.

 

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Social Media: Making Friends For Money

NOW, settle down. We’re not talking about the oldest profession. We’re talking about how businesses can build real friendships through social media — friendships that look more like true friendships and build communities among their friends to support their business goals.

Why businesses should make friends on Facebook?

Businesses question the value of incorporating social media into their marketing communication mix.  Many don’t believe social media really works, others lament the lack of analytics showing the ROI (Return on Investment) from social media marketing efforts.

So, why should YOUR business invest time and money building a friendship network on Facebook?

The infographic (courtesy of my pals at Ambassador) makes a strong argument for using Facebook.

  1. 25% of Facebook users check their newsfeed 5 or MORE times per day.  And, with the rise of smartphones and the ease of Facebook apps on these devices, that number is going nowhere but UP!
  2. Adult users spend over 7 hours/ month on Facebook’s mobile app.
  3. Facebook has more users per month than all the major social media sites put together.
  4. US users spend nearly 25% of their time online using Facebook and other social media sites.

Pay-off when companies use social media

Facebook and other social media sites increasingly form a viable means for business lead generation in both B2B and B2C environments.  And, employees like working for companies where the CEO or other leaders are active Facebook users.

But, most importantly, consumers are strongly influenced by what their friends think about a brand. 

How to use social media, like Facebook

Likes have relatively little impact on purchase decisions when they’re purchased through contests and such.  Plus, Likes from folks who aren’t part of your target market do little.

The real trick to social media success, regardless of the platform, is to give people something of value.  That might be:

  • free stuff or coupons
  • helpful information
  • exclusive access
  • community, self esteem

What visitors are NOT interested in, is hearing about you or your brand.  Social media is NOT advertising or PR and users are really not interested in being talked TO.  So, unless you’re a celebrity, find something else to talk about!  Something folks are interested in.

And, interact with visitors. Thank them if they say something nice or share your content.  Address their questions or problems promptly and thoroughly.  Treat them as if the most important person in your town just walked into your store.  This isn’t rocket science, it’s just down home hospitality.

Yes, I know. You’ve sat through webinars and paid for training programs filled with advice about the optimal time to post and how often to post, you’ve paid to have really attractive cover photos designed, maybe you pay a college kid to post to your Facebook wall, and you carefully track how many fans you have on your page.  And, I’m not saying that stuff is trivial.  I’m just saying that sharing stuff your target audience loves trumps all that other stuff.

Hausman and Associates

Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name.  We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our innovative virtual agency concept.  We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.

 

social media: making friends on facebook

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