Monday, October 12, 2009

It’s All About Engagement

Before you start a conversation and certainly to continue one, you have to engage your audience. You are in business, the litmus test for a social media tool or application is simple: does it allow you to engage with customers, prospects, employees and other stakeholders by facilitating one or more of the following:





A Closer Look at Engagement Strategies

Let’s take a quick look at these four categories of engagement and a sampling of some of the social media tools associated with each.

Communication: If you’ve sent an e-mail recently, you’ve communicated. If you’ve used a service like Constant Contact or Survey Monkey to invite a group of people (via e-mail) to view your newsletter or take a quick survey, you’ve taken your communication to the next level using a social media application. If you’ve used Twitter to blast a quick text message to a group of friends or colleagues, you’ve used a specific social medium to communicate. If you’ve used Jott to convert a voicemail message into an e-mail, welcome to the world of social media. If you haven’t done anything beyond e-mail, that’s okay too. This blog is designed to make you comfortable with taking your business to the next level, from a social media perspective.

Collaboration: One of the earliest uses of the internet was a a collaboration tool. If you’ve participated in a Listserv, a chat room or a discussion board, you’ve already experienced collaboration to some degree. There are, how-ever, several social media tools designed to foster collaboration among work teams, buyers and sellers, companies and customers, even authors and readers. Wikipedia, eBay and are all exemples of applications and companies that offer a means of collaboration.

Education: Educating your customers and training your employees can be important to the success of your business. Several social media tools make the education process easier and more dynamic. If you’ve downloaded music from Apple iTunes, did you know that you can also download college-level lectures on a wide range of topics? Some businesses are using podcasts and YouTube videos as a means of educating others. There are virtual seminars and classes being held in Second Life. Some savvy real estate brokers are using blogs to educate potential buyers about schools, churches and restaurants in their community.

Entertainment: Historically, some of the best commercials on television have been very entertaining and quite effective at selling products and services. They’ve also been expensive to produce and broadcast. Not so in the new world of social media. A quick search on YouTube using the phrase “Blendtec iphone” will let you know how a CEO of a company that makes blenders (yes, the kitchen appliance) was able to dramatically increase sales by shooting a series of videos showing him feeding different objects into his powerful blender, objects that included an Apple iPhone.

In the next blog post we’ll take a look at how one nationally recognized company is using a combination of these engagement strategies to drive business.

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