Dec 12, 2017

Engagement, a chase not worth the prize?

Engagement is the holy grail for many social media managers. Finally, tangible proof that your posts are causing someone somewhere behind a computer screen to click a “like” button or type a few things into a comment box. This metrically measurable statistic certainly pleases our bosses, but is it worth prostituting all our posts with the phrase “Like or comment below to share your thoughts!” or “first 5 people to like will get a free t-shirt!”?

As the organic growth model of Facebook fades into ancient history, more and more marketers have been using this exact tactic to get their fabled clicks. Facebook has turned into a fishmonger’s market of companies shouting “like me! Like me!” “Comment here, Comment here!” but are all oblivious to the sensibilities of the generation that propped Facebook up. There is no doubt that Facebook is aging, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook are 55+, and when the least tech savvy people are starting to catch on, you must admit there is a problem.

The internet in recent days has turned into a minefield of sponsored content, hate speech and corporate mistrust. Millennials as the first generation to grow up in the social media age, they saw first hand the consequences of the two golden rules of the internet. 1. On the internet, no one knows who you are. 2. The internet never forgets. Now adults, this primordial net has caused millennials to be very private people online. Instagram is the fastest growing social media for the millennial demographic and 42% of them hold private accounts (access has to be granted to see their posts). With the pressures of the outside world on them, they just do not want to be berated on social media.

So that brings us to the big question, how exactly do you get them to engage online? First thing, ditch all the “like this post”, “comment here” nagging. No one likes to be told what to do, especially millennials. You need to make the content itself shareable, likes and comments from willing participants are worth far more than begged handouts. Secondly, no more “timeline games” While it is tempting to lure in people with the promise of free goods, does the engagement you get from them truly mean anything? Does treating your customers as trained seals, getting them to jump through hoops for fish really create a positive mind set for your brand?

The word “engagement” has been twisted from meaning an interaction between people to a quantifiable metric. You have to remember, what was the reason that engagement was so important in the first place. It was to create a personal connection between customers and your brand. It was because people were so enamored with your brand that they willingly shared it with their friends.

To create this same feeling online, there is still one tool that works, User Generated Content. Take those prizes from your timeline games and instead start giving it to people that didn’t even ask for it. Reach out to others that have already posted about your product or brand, if you are working in consumer marketing hopefully this will be easy. If you don’t, you may have to go through other channels to reach people who have said good things about your brand or service. Offer them your free gift and ask that you want to share their story online on your social media platform. Now you are sharing human stories with real people and real experiences, and you definitely made a positive impact on at least one person. Whether or not they share it online or offline, don’t worry. Just send your boss this article and hopefully he/she will understand.

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