If 2009 was the year of social media adoption and experimentation, the big theme for 2010 appears to be scrutinization. 2010 will be a year in which many of the social media pillars will be tested and benchmarked – these benchmarks include ROI (return on investment) and engagement.
While ROI is already a hot topic, engagement is also attracting a lot more attention. Earlier this week, social media consultant Jason Falls cast the spotlight on engagement with blog post that declared it to be “just a bullshit term made up to apply to making people do something in the online (or offline) space” such as buying products and services.”
The problem with “engagement” is it can be defined in different ways. While Falls contends engagement is about the bottom line, others believe engagement is also about building relationships with customers and potential customers, driving the brand, and encouraging other people to talk about and spread the word about your company using social media tools.
The reality is “engagement” is a mix of all of the above. To get people to buy products or services, you have to get them engaged with what you’re doing, and establish some sort of relationship to drive customers to ultimately make a purchase decision. Don’t get me wrong, the sale is the goal but the pre-sale elements shouldn’t be brushed aside in creating a definition for “engagement”.
The active discussions about engagement and ROI are healthy and much needed because they suggest the social media business is quickly evolving and starting to attract the same amount of attention as traditional marketing activities.
At the end of the day, these kind of discussions will go a long way in validating the role of social media within a company’s communications, marketing and sales arsenal.