12/14/11

The Strategy of Engagement

Strategic Initiatives (Part 6)


So, after yesterday’s post, you’ve started thinking about which social media platforms best suit your business style and practice, as well as which offer you the best potential ROI. You’ll launch that campaign, or revamp a current campaign. Then what?

The penultimate goal of any social media campaign is engagement. What exactly does that mean? A quick check of the dictionary is in order (we’ve edited down the full definition):

en·gage
v. en·gaged, en·gag·ing, en·gag·es
4. To attract and hold the attention of; engross: a hobby that engaged her for hours at a time.
5. To win over or attract: His smile engages everyone he meets.
6. To draw into; involve: engage a shy person in conversation.
7. To require the use of; occupy: Studying engages most of my time.

You hear “social media experts” and “gurus” telling you to engage your audience, but what garners engagement and sharing of your message. What types of content work?

We could wax poetic for days and still not get to the heart of the engagement matter. So we’re simplifying with some “e” tactics that will help with your “e”ngagement goals.

Educate: Are you the best and most knowledgeable company in your industry? Are you an industry or niche leader? Educate your audience about your strengths, your outstanding track record, your great client approval rating or your latest successful case study. It’s an innate human trait to want the best. How do we decide what’s best? By knowing as much as we can. Make sure your prospects and clients know you’re the experts by educating them.

Excerpt: Studies have shown that most people skim, rather than actually read, online. So, how do you get them to really read your fantastic content. Learn the art of the engaging excerpt. Can you sum up your idea, your premise, your goal in a sentence or two...perhaps a short paragraph? If not, it’s a skill you need to learn. It’s information overload on the digital business highway and you have to grab their attention before they skip your exit completely and choose a new destination.

Empathize: Clients sometimes have problems and issues. Software crashes, a sale falls through, something breaks. How will you handle complaints or concerns voiced on your social media platforms? The Netflix debacle made it clear you can’t ignore them and the Nestle meltdown showed antisocial behavior on a social media site brought about an epic fail. First and foremost, you must empathize and it better come across in a sincere fashion. Apologize. Ask how you can help. If suitable offer a replacement or a repair. Negative press happens, but you can turn a negative into a positive with careful and empathetic handling. For more on this topic, check out The Social Media Reprimand.

Elicit: Ask for and hopefully you shall receive. Elicit is a fancy way to say “ask”, and we needed an “e” word. Engaging your followers means eliciting a response, a like, a comment, a share, a referral, a connection request and so on. How do you get any one of these? Ask for it. Make sure your posts have an action statement, if not an all out call to action.

Entertain: The Pick and Mix blog post stated that we want to do business with people we like and enjoy. The best way we know to make sure people enjoy our company is to work to entertain our audience. People who are passionate about their business should have no problem effectively entertaining their audience while engaging them. Entertainment can, and should be, professional and should never leave your audience feeling uncomfortable. You can entertain with humor, with a “did” you know question, with a shared story or with an amusing photo or video. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing the occasional tasteful joke or quote. It lightens the mood, softens the sell, and shows that you’re human. People don’t engage with robots, except the occasional hand-to-hand combat in movies like the Terminator!

This engagement, if successful, is the true test of social media ROI. Just like the engagement before marriage, it is getting to know each other and working out details for the future. It is also a promise. Fail to engage and you fail to make the most of the time, energy and money you put into a social media campaign.

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