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Why Social Media Engagement Numbers Suck


Army.ca Dinosaur
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Nailed it....

Why Social Media Engagement Numbers Suck (And What We Should Really Worry About)

It’s not really a new topic, but it keeps cropping up.

Social media “engagement” numbers and “conversations” just aren’t living up to expectations. This recent article on VentureBeat focuses on Facebook’s dwindling organic reach and paltry commenting and sharing activity, citing some research from Forrester that says that engagement is pretty abysmal overall for big brands (this is important, more on this later).

What happens in the wake of this kind of discussion?

The battle cry becomes “social media isn’t worth the investment”, littered with everything from the I-told-you-this-was-stupid crowd to the palpably deflated sighs from social’s biggest evangelists wondering how in the heck they’re going to justify their budgets next year.

What’s going wrong here?

In a word: perspective.

Facebook Is Not The Gospel

Facebook has the most visible profile, sure.

But we have got to stop conflating Facebook with “social”. Facebook is one site, with one set of capabilities and its own limitations, that is itself a for-profit business interested in creating a sustainable revenue model. That means capturing eyeballs and audience so they can serve ads. The end.

That is far from the complete picture of what “social” is or means in context of business impact. If you look at it that way, no wonder it’s all “social isn’t working”. Of course it isn’t. Because Facebook didn’t design itself to serve our needs and desires for more open, accessible conversations with companies. They are not here to realize the potential of bringing the customer closer to the business. They are here to make money based on their own model (which is decidedly not social, by the by, but that a post for a different day).

Let’s take a step back here and revisit social in terms of a concept instead of a tool.

Social Is All About Providing Access.

Forget all about Facebook or Twitter or any specific “social network” for a minute and think about what social means in practice.

To most of us who are marketing and communication types, the idea of being “social” with our customers means bringing them closer to the company and giving them better, more streamlined access to two things:
1. The information and people they need to create a strong, positive buying experience with a company
2. Other customers or community members that can relate to their buying needs.

We’re trying to reduce friction in communication, raise the level of trust between our customers and our organization, and reward our community, advocates, and customers with an experience that surpasses their expectations.

Does that scan okay so far?


But if that’s the case, social is all about the philosophy and practice of achieving those things, no matter what the mechanism.
I can make phone calls more social by having people answer phones instead of robots. I can make email more social by personalizing it and relentlessly tweaking buying paths and behaviors to get people the information they need, when they need it, in a way that’s useful and perhaps even entertaining. Hell, I can make an *analog* shareholders meeting more social by offering opportunities for more open dialog, feedback, discussion and access to executives.

Being “social” has to do with behavior, not technology.