Engagement is the (Master) Key to Social Media Success

This is not a take on the Master Key system of Charles Haanel. No, instead, it is a (timely) reminder that engagement is the sine qua non of social media success.

The problem at the moment is that social media is perceived as the alter ego of off-line engagement and business development. In other words it has become hijacked, blindfolded and bundled up with marketing but that is not the same as engagement.

At the edges there is a correlation between followers, fans and mentions – it must be right that those with larger networks have a statistically improved chance of making a (random) connection with someone who is looking for a quick fix – but don’t be fooled into thinking that more equals more. It doesn’t. It could just give you a big fat headache trying to work out how you are going to manage the hydra of social media.

I am not advocating or prescribing an off-line free model for your business. In fact, in some instances there may be some good data to support such a campaign particularly where your likely cohort of consumers don’t have an online presence and you have no way of reaching out to them or you being found by other connectors and influencers. But the point is that you have to think what a buyer demands of your service – not in the sense of I would like to own/use it – but rather the rather glib expression so oft repeated by salespeople the world over: I [you] need your product to fulfil …… And more than that someone else has authenticated or recommended your product of service. With that normally follows an imputed level of trust that is critical to converting the prospect to a customer.

What I am driving at though, more than anything else, is that even where you feel you have conquered the tools, technology and understand the difference between RSS, Google Reader and syndication generally, guess what: You are going to have spend core, business critical time engaging and most of all being downright social. And not something contrived, stale and episodic but messaging that is value laden and designed to place you at the centre of your network. Someone who is seen as thoughtful, caring and understanding of a customer’s needs.

If that doesn’t sound like you – you know the sort of person who thinks they have got better things to do with their time – then stop beating yourself up. Just because everyone else is talking and engaging with social media doesn’t mean you should be. Don’t be guilty that you don’t get it or can’t see its purpose but just make sure that you are 110% committed to your normal behaviours. Sure you can dip in and out as you feel but with the amount of activity that goes on daily you need to think carefully whether that is going to earn you enough or any attention for people to go beyond engaging with you to buying your product or service.

My rallying cry is: Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep it firmly at the centre of the paradigm shift and you won’t go far wrong.

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