Home  › Social › Social Media

Engagement Drives Social Media Communities

  |  June 16, 2010   |  Comments

To succeed in social media, you must engage your audience and share willingly.

In my last column, I talked about the "Four Pillars of Social Media Marketing," which include research, strategy, engagement, and measurement. Today, let's delve into engagement a little more, because without it, your social media marketing strategy won't take off. Of course, you do need the other three pillars to have a successful strategy, but without engagement, there's no reason to be doing anything in social media.

People Love to Share

Whether it's thoughts, ideas, opinions, tips, tricks, photos, videos, or pieces of content they find valuable, people love to share. They share in many different ways - via e-mail, via links in instant messenger or on Twitter, by posting information in forums or message boards, submitting to social news sites like Digg or social bookmarking sites like Delicious, uploading videos to YouTube, photos to Flickr, or podcasts to iTunes.

They do this because they want to engage with people and get their opinion. They want some kind of acknowledgement from the community, whether it's "Thank you!" or "That's cool," a thumbs up on a video, or a comment on a photo. There's an inherent need of anyone actively engaged within a social community to know that whatever they've shared has been received. This type of engagement is what propels users to keep being actively engaged and contributing to a community.

I've written about engaging the influencers before. Engaging influencers is a whole different realm of engagement that requires research, planning, and engagement in a different manner. Today, I'm focusing more on engaging a whole community. There's a reason social media is called "social" media - it requires that you be social, for it to work.

Lurking Isn't a Form of Engaging

Just sitting back and providing different types of content to your audience isn't a bad thing, but it will only take you so far. If, for example, you wanted to start a blog, it's important to research and understand what kind of content you're going to need to provide your audience and customers that they'll want to share. In order to do that, you do need to lurk a little in the communities so you can get an idea of what you need to be planning for in your blog's editorial calendar.

However, you can't solely rely on passive listening and researching. Without engaging your audience, you're not going to know what kind of other content they're truly craving. They might not even know that you're out there providing this type of content, unless you actively engage and tell them. You won't be able to grow your community if you're just "blogging" and not linking out to other sites, adding your own comments on other blog posts, or letting others know about what else you find valuable.

Blogging isn't as easy as writing posts and putting them out there for Google to find. Google can find them and can apply its algorithm to your content on that page, and it might rank somewhere in the search results. But even Google recognizes that community interaction and engagement around a blog post helps to deem its relevancy to the community. The more comments, more retweets, and more links into the posts, the more relevant it becomes. The only way you acquire those is by engaging the community that the content was intended for.

It Takes Time to Build Trust

It takes time, this whole engagement thing - it doesn't happen overnight. Just because you said thank you or shared one link, doesn't automatically grant you an engaged audience in that instance. It takes time to establish trust and respect in the communities you're engaging with. People want to know you're not going to be a one-hit wonder or be there for one week and then disappear the next. They want to make sure you're there for the long haul and there to make an investment.

Some companies get discouraged by the fact that the link they posted to their content in the social media community they've chosen to engage with didn't "go viral" just after posting. It takes a few tries of sharing content before you "strike gold." Again, it's about the trust. They want to know that you're going to keep on being a valuable source of information for them.

Engaging can be easy, but a scary proposition for some companies, because it's against their very culture to actually "talk" to their audiences. For the companies that have strict rules and guidelines of who can do the talking (when, where, how, why, or what), their social media marketing strategies will most likely fail.

In order to see success in social media, you have to engage your audience and share willingly.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liana Evans

Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.

Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Social newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Downers GroveWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager...
    • Internet Marketing Specialist
      Internet Marketing Specialist (InteractRV) - DallasInternet Marketing Specialist InteractRV - Anywhere Telecommute, USA SEM | SEO | Content Creator...
    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...