Social Media Engagement in the Spotlight

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.

6 Comments on “Social Media Engagement in the Spotlight”

  1. ‘Engagement’ should really have no place in the lexicon of social media-based marketing communications; that is, communications meant to interest people in buying a product or service.

    As a concept, engagement has its natural home in community or stakeholder relations, which or course can benefit enormously from using social media.

  2. Granted everyone wants to make money online, but when it comes to engagement, the ultimate goal is not the bottom line. When interacting with people, if all they see is you trying to sell the something and not actually concerned with helping them, they will refrain from talking to you. People don’t want to have products pitched to them all the time. They want someone that actually cares and is willing to engage with them on a personal level. It is ALL ABOUT building relationships. That’s the SOCIAL part of social media.

    Many people get the wrong idea with how to use social media and believe it’s all about broadcasting and marketing. That’s far from the truth. If you don’t actually show you care about the person (who’s another human being, by the way) then they are going to feel like they are just an end to a sale. Your attempt to sell something will fall drastically and you will loose trust from people. However, if you interact with people on a regular basis, build a relationship and trust…they will be more willing to hear a product or service that your recommend to them.

  3. Whilst my client base is very varied, a fair amount of it is in the travel marketing space. In that area, genuinely engaging with the customer is vital to business. WIthout it, you don’t sell, as people want to be sure they will have the right vacation experience for their own unique needs.. BEFORE they make the purchasing decision.

    Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing in any business, but particularly travel and hospitality.. the difference that the internet brings is that this no longer has to wait until after the trip is completed, but now can begin as soon as the first interaction.. whether that we a website visit, a blog post, tweet, facebook comment.

    If you don’t focus on engagement, you’re just selling… and “just selling” doesn’t work anymore in travel marketing.

  4. “Engagement” in Social Media cannot be applied only to specific ROI based Objectives. ROI (return on investment) has a specific financial meaning and formula. There are many justifiable Social Media Objectives that do not have a $$ value associated (see here for 3 categories of Social Media Objectives and examples: http://j.mp/5oFCTp).

    However, at the end of the day, Marketing (and Social Media) must be able to show an impact on revenues.

  5. Being a blog writer myself, I really appreciate the time you took in wriitng this article. I am currently reading it on my Blackberry and will scan it once I get home.

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