What does real engagement mean? A change of mindset.

Engagement is a term that has been used so much in the last couple years by marketers it’s starting to loose it’s meaning. It’s become a shorthand for do something “social.”

But engagement at it’s best is an emotional involvement or commitment between two parties. Unfortunately, commitment is something many marketers only expect of their customers, not themselves. They’re only committed to pushing the message out there and not listening to what the other person has to say. Fortunately for marketers customers are used to being treated this way. That’s how I feel every time I deal with the phone company or a credit card company.

So why are these companies getting into social media in the first place? Many see it as cheap media. But many are well meaning, want real interaction but simply don’t understand the time commitment associated with a true two-way conversation. And they also don’t see (or can’t advocate up the chain) the customer service, sales, or PR value yet.

So if you want real engagement, I suggest you not take “baby steps” but take measured steps into social media and not leaps. Leaps can lead to instant scalability problems and cause confusion marketers. Frankly, the people who work in marketing and PR are not used to talking to customers on a one-to-one scale. So what do you do?

Step one: Listen.

Step two: Develop a plan for engagement based on goals and what you’ve heard.

Step three: Create a presence where your largest group of customers can reach you the easily (fish where the fish are). And start a conversation.

Concentrate on this third step for a month or so before launching a Twitter presence, a Friend Feed, a Youtube Channel and so on.

We find that this is plenty for most companies at first. Even if you are just launching a Facebook fan page, you can generate significant traffic to your corporate site and learn a lot about engaging your customers quickly. This is a lot better situation than starting a social media “experiment” with an instant scalability problem. From here it will be easier to transition to real engagement with customers rather than falling back into the same old push mentality we all used to be so comfortable with.

Posted on: January 5, 2010, by :