Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three Dimensions of Social Media Engagement

A little while ago, we discussed how to Reward the folks who make up your market/fan base. Today I want to take a look at the lynchpin of every Social Media strategy - creating Engagement.

Engagement is more than enabling comments on a blog or on your Facebook page. Engagement is more than just posting a random question from time to time. Engagement is more than two-way communication.

Social Media Engagement is Three Dimensional

One dimension is a single point. You are that point. You're standing on a blank page talking about your business. Your website, your blog, your advertising campaigns are all that single point. One dimension is you, your words, your point of view, talking to the outside world. Someone may see it. Someone may care about what you have to say. But you won't know, because your communication is in one dimension.

Two dimensions are represented by a line. You add a Contact Us link or form to your site. You enable comments on your blog or Facebook page. You can now receive communication back from people who are motivated to contact you. You have, quite literally, opened a line of communication. When you receive that comment or email, you might be motivated to respond. That response goes back up the string to the customer's tin can.

Three dimensions add volume. No longer just a single line, there is now depth and breadth to your world. You communicate not just with the individual that commented, but with anyone who might potentially have the same thought. There's your breadth. And...if you do it in the right place in the right way, with the right people - they want to share what you said with other people. Bam! There's your third dimension.

Engagement is both harder and easier than most companies realize.

Contests and giveaways does not actually engage people. It's a quid pro quo transaction. People enter contests for prizes, for ego, for bragging rights. People do not become engaged in your brand because you give them stuff.

People become engaged because they *believe* in your brand. They have a hole in their heart that your brand fills. Your brand - and only your brand - makes them feel as if they are where they want to be.

The secret to engaging people is to forget about that first dimension. *You* are not the point. (As Karen Rosenzweig says, "It's Social MEdia, not Social YOUdia." Great Social Media is about the customer - it's all about what they like and want and need...not about what you have to give. Incidentally, this is also the basis of good Sales technique - which is why, when people ask what division of a company - Communications or Marketing - should handle Social Media, I often say, "Sales." Sales already has the skill set needed for Engagement, where Communications is often locked in that first dimension and Marketing in the second.

To create good engagement, start by commenting on something some else says. Don't wait for a comment on something you said - go out and find someone to talk to.

@Bob You had great service at our store in Townsville? Great- thanks for letting us know!

Ask a follow-up question, which will solicit a reply.

Was there anything you were looking for that you didn't find?

Invite a third party into the conversation.

@Townsvillestoremanager, @Bob say he had a great store experience. How did that sale go?

Then invite the first party to invite someone into the conversation.

Hi, @Sue, @Bob tells me that you're a regular customer too.

Converse with all sides. You're the expert - you guide the conversation.

@Townsvillestoremanager, how about we give @Bob and @Sue a "Team discount" for the next sale?

This conversation is a bit pat, of course but, the point is, it was never about the business - it was always about the customer. And if you've been following me here, you'll recognize that the conversation included a Reward for being your market, not just your audience. A Reward that encourages Bob and Sue to extend the network.

Engagement comes from a feeling of being part of something. Bob and Sue aren't just customers and they aren't "valued customers." They are part of the Team.

Your Team is everyone and anyone who can extend your network. Blogging isn't enough. Comments aren't enough. Comments that lead to conversations on and off your blog; comments that bring other blogs into the conversation - and your comments in those spaces - that's the third dimension you need for Engagement.

I'm going to wind up today's post with a quick shout out to some of the many folks on my Team: Dean C, Bruce McF, Katherine H. Ana M, JD - I can't thank you enough for all you do! Step up and take a bow in the comments, and let the good folks who read this blog meet you. :-)

And, if you are a regular reader....please feel free to shout out to your own Team! I'd love to learn who you think makes your network hum. :-)
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