While I was trying to think of a great follow-up to my first post (and thinking to myself, how am I going to top that?), I realized that a brief overview of what we mean by social engagement might be a bit helpful.
As I mentioned, we see the term “social media” as a broadcast function, not something that really engenders a working relationship. “Social engagement” on the other hand, the development of a multi-faceted conversation, is what we find most clients really want when they say “social media.” Though I’ll be totally honest, when a client says they want to explore social media options, sometimes the answer isn’t what they want to hear.
And while it’s slightly off topic, it’s important to remember as communications professionals part of our job is to tell our clients “no” when we don’t think an initiative is in their best interest. Social media – or social engagement – seems to fall heavily into that category of late.
But there I go, you got me off on another tangent, you really have to stop letting me do that.
Back to engagement.
Most social media/digital media platforms broadcast, they don’t connect. It’s my biggest complaint about them, even though you’ll never get me off my Twitter account; though I do occasionally wonder with the amount of information flowing across it – often things that are meaningless – what’s the real value. On the other hand, if you’re able to build a strong platform for engagement, through traditional social media or another vehicle, you’ve taken the first steps toward being more relevant than the competition.
That’s why I’m a big proponent of purpose-built, online communities. I think these are the next iteration in the growth of online communications and networking. By establishing a place for people with similar interests and needs (advice, technical information, product support, peer-to-peer product reviews or whatever) and by providing a slate of activities and reasons for them to keep coming back, we’ll have created a community that will generate its own content and take on a life of its own.
And that’s the goal of social engagement.
Yes, we had a hand in building them and yes, we have a hand in managing them, but I don’t think that diminishes the message here. Two-way…no…multi-facetted communication has to be the key to social engagement; we have to do more than just broadcast.
After all, if we’re just broadcasting information, it’s just another website.