To understand why engagement is important for social media marketing success, you need to understand how social media marketing works — what social media marketing does to support your brand.
The basic function of social networks in supporting your brand is the amplification of your message through your social media marketing efforts. Social networks also decommodify commercial messages — this sounds really complicated, but it basically means that when you hear advice or recommendations from your friends, it’s more believable than hearing it from a business even if the message originally came from the business.
And, engagement is the key to both gaining this amplification and decommodifying your messages.
Let’s look at a little example of how social media spreads a message compared with traditional media.
This assumes each fan/follower in your network has 300 friends. Assume 10% of your fan/follower shares your message with their network and 10% of those friends share your message with their network. It only takes a few “generations” of such sharing to reach very wide distribution of your message.
Now, compare this return with traditional media – even the Super Bowl, the most watched program 2 years running, only reached 111 million viewers in 2011, according to Huffington Post. And the cost of that ad was over $3 million for 30 seconds, which doesn’t include the production costs for the commercial, which can be another million or more.
How to create engagement?
- Give fans/ followers stuff — free product, advanced or exclusive access, valuable advice and support, etc.
- You create engagement through self-disclosure — be a real person. Let your network backstage to see how things work and let them get to know you. For instance, the social media manager at California Tortilla talks about plans to introduce new products or gets feedback on their new logo, but she also shares things going on in her personal life so she’s more like a true friend.
- Create engagement through interaction. Real friends talk TO each other, not AT each other. True friends don’t pick up a megaphone at a party and shout about how wonderful they are. True friends are interested in you as a person, so they ask you what you think, how you feel, what you need.
- Reciprocate. Reciprocity is basically tit-for-tat meaning you have to give to get. Generalized reciprocity is what builds communities – it’s the notion that if you help someone when then need it, someone will help you when you need it. And reciprocity builds engagement.
- Nothing beats great customer service. It’s a gift we give our customers. Great customer service tells customers they’re important and tells them we care about them. And great customer service is easy. Create processes that work, hire people committed to those processes, and monitor the processes. When there’s a problem, fix it immediately. Negative word of mouth travels 5 times faster (and farther) than positive word of mouth.
For instance, everyone who +1’s my posts on Google+ gets thanked. Everyone who shares my Tweets, gets thanked. Everyone who comments on my blog or on my status updates in Facebook, gets recognized. An “Atta boy” goes a long way toward encouraging behaviors that promote your brand.
I’ve built a tribe, which you’re welcome to join – it’s on Facebook and it’s called Social Media Marketing Tribe. Members support each other by sharing information others might find valuable, we share each other’s work, and we compliment each other when we accomplish something. If a member needs help, we give it.
Well, that’s enough for today. Tomorrow, I’ll give some more insights on how to create engagement in social media.
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