Engagement is Only Second Base in Social Media

The idea of using social media marketing has begun to spread beyond Internet sector. When mainstream marketers like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki are blogging about using social media tools for business leverage, the general public begins to listen. The problem is buying into social media tools use isn’t the final step in increasing brand exposure. In fact engagement is really only second base.

As explained in my earlier post, 2009: The Year of the Conversation, engaging in social media at this point would still put you in the category of an early adopter. Social media is still on the cusp of becoming mainstream for businesses. Trends are shifting and businesses must adapt to remain relevant. Which is why like any business endeavor it requires significant research and an implementation strategy. Experts can beat their drum as long or loud as they want, but until you as an organization physically sit down and hash out your plan for social media it’s as prevalent as gymnastics is in a non Olympic year.

Getting over that hump and physically going through the restructuring period takes time and should be applauded. It’s not easy for some companies to shift their thinking, time, and dollars into a new form of communication and interaction. That applause should not be a standing ovation though, it should be a good firm pat on the back. Engagement is truly only the second step towards a successful social media plan. We must move beyond simply signing our businesses up for social media services.

“Execution will be the one must of 2009.” – Valeria Maltoni

In a recent discussion with one of Crocs Inc. social media specialist, George Smith, George talked about prior to Crocs social media engagement plan. Prior to physically distributing their content Crocs and would be listening to their target market channels. What better way to understand what your market desires than engaging in social media and then providing the fly on the wall theory? Listening is what I would consider third base in social media engagement. Too often we see businesses supplementing social media tools for cheap promotion. engaging tools and immediately go on the promotion attack. While promotion is to be expected is that truly what your current or future customers want to hear? Sometimes all your customers will want from you, is someone to listen and respond.

Whether your like their product or not you have to be impressed with the efforts Frank Elison is making with Comcast. Frank’s Twitter feed, comcastcares, is entirely comprised of responses to troubled Comcast users. Frank uses various search tools to find customers that are complaining or frustrated with their service and provides them with real time assistance. This is what I would consider the Home Run of social media engagement. Providing value to those your engage with is what will separate the winners from the losers. As Karl Long stated in his blog:

“Everyone wants to join when it’s [social media] still growing . . . Your company needs to shift it’s focus from growth to providing real value.”

Again engagement should be implemented, but listening and then responding with value, not simply promotion, will be key as social media becomes mainstream. For examples of how to implement these techniques take a look at the darling of 2008: Zappos. If you’re looking to become an innovator of social media too how about hitting a home run with value?

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