Having a large Twitter following doesn't constitute success in social business, a truth we all know but may be reluctant to admit. In fact, even celebrity status on social media doesn't necessarily count as successful engagement with large communities of like-minded people. In this age of bots and paid followers and payola deals for broadcast tweets, genuine social engagement is hard to attain or even decipher.
What constitutes social engagement?
As social business matures and the use of social technology becomes mainstream, many brands are evolving their goals to broader themes of digital engagement and digital transformation. Engagement is also increasingly used to describe a broad category of capabilities and technology to collaborate with customers and employees, touching on commerce, HR, marketing and even the supply chain.
But much of engagement is still centered around social media where activity nets out to broadcasting messages and offers from individual or corporate brands. And this engagement is frequently measured by things like number of impressions, retweets or new followers. And while these measures contribute to share of voice, they don't necessary result in high conversion rates or ROI-something many brands aren't even thinking about yet.
Social engagement isn't a goal
However, when brands move from simply sharing content and analyzing social consumption to connecting engagement with the marketing cloud, it becomes actionable and translates to ROI. In essence, engagement is not the end goal of interacting with customers-engagement is an outcome of being social, and it helps us accomplish our goals for customers. To net it out:
- Social marketing is not just an awareness play. It is a key part of an integrated business and go-to-market strategy.
- Social marketing and analysis become meaningful when they're tied into marketing and lead-generation systems and processes to ensure conversions, targeted offers and happy customers.
- Social business is inherent in all business today to some degree. The real value comes from using social to innovate in all aspects of the business.
These steps are critical to getting the most out of social in the future, where social will be more than just marketing or collaboration, but will be built-in to all business processes. Engagement too will be a given, a part of the larger digital transformation impacting all areas of the business, not just social.
Reaching beyond audience engagement
What next? Great storytelling, targeted marketing, exceptional experiences and true social innovation. A good example is what Omaze is doing, combining the basic ideas of crowdsourcing, bidding and celebrity power to raise money for global causes. Take this simple and humorous campaign produced by the philanthropic startup for less than a $1000 in support of Water.org and the Eastern Congo Initiative. With the help of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the campaign raised millions for the cause. Audience engagement was critical in the marketing process but it wasn't the end game. Ultimately it was the ability to convert interest to revenue that made engagement a valuable outcome of social business.