Marketing in today’s economy with today’s tools requires a shift from the traditional. It is becoming more and more obsolete to think you can identify your desired “target market” and exclusively deliver content, messaging and communications to them. Most companies’ brand identity and messaging have become more decentralized as social networking continues to evolve in a sprawling viral manner. Marketers need to control what they can, and monitor, manage and address what they cannot.

The Basics

Let’s not complicate things unnecessarily -- WEM is exactly what it stands for -- “your engagement management strategy on the web.” It’s a three-way interaction: 1) how you interact with your audience, 2) how your audience interacts with you, and 3) “the most challenging to manage” -- how your audience interacts with themselves about you. Let’s break this down a bit.

How You Interact with Your Audience

This is the easiest interaction if you have the right tools in place. You are in complete control of what content and messaging you choose to deliver to the “world.” Using a web content management system properly integrated with social media channels can really help to spread your message. Your interaction starts a chain reaction of subsequent messaging through each channel you’re integrated with: you -- fan/follower -- fan’s friend -- friend’s friend and so on.

The key is “be consistent.” Even though the game has changed, your company’s mission, vision, message and brand identity has not. Be consistent with what you can control, and how you respond to external feedback.

How Your Audience Interacts with You

It’s a numbers game; conversations with customers, prospects and “business influencers” can be facilitated through effective multi-channel management.

  • Your website,
  • Facebook company page, likes or fan pages,
  • Twitter page, followers and tweet,
  • LinkedIn followers, connections and group pages,
  • Mobile site,
  • Email distribution,
  • Blogs,
  • Etc.

With all of these channels (some of which are out of your control), it’s important to monitor them closely. Economies of scale hold true here, as a single unified communication can be “published” on multiple social platforms. Companies should leverage the viral nature of publishing content through their websites and out through the social web. Online interactions create engagement and engagements create relationships. Through these relationships is where trust is built, and conversely brand loyalty and awareness.

That being said, it’s not all good. Watch for the negative comments and disappointed customer feedback. It’s very important to have a strategy in place to manage this.

No matter which channel(s) you choose to publish content to, it’s important to preserve a consistent communication and consistent responses to feedback. This will help increase the reach of your brand identity.

How Your Audience Interacts with Each Other

This is the hardest to monitor and manage. Your “audience” members may interact about your company with each other. Being able to track this is hard without third-party tools and services to help. A common strategy here is to spend most of your time looking out for, and focus on, the bad. The bad should be addressed before one “bad” instance turns into two -- without the proper response. Different corporate cultures, maturity levels and amount of resources will all come into play to determine how involved the company can truly be.

As for the good, it’s all good -- do not interfere with good conversations about your company -- they should be left intact, and in doing so will retain more “value” as the integrity of the conversation is “unbiased.”

Tools & Strategies to Consider

There are several tools and/or strategies to consider when rolling out and maintaining your web engagement management strategy. Here are a few of them:

  • Have a robust web content management system. Companies need to be able to quickly create and publish content to multiple publishing targets -- social media channels being several of them. Time to market is important here; technology should not slow down the speed of business.
  • Social media integration plug-ins. Bi-directional integration points for content sharing from your web presence with social media channels. Implementing a decentralized authentication strategy, like OpenID, can be very helpful in increasing registrations, and capturing valuable member data and stats.
  • Social media monitoring tools and services. This can help companies monitor and track what others are saying about you, how effective your reach and conversion are, and how effective respective channels are.
  • Reputation management. Many larger firms are employing dedicated reputation managers. These folks focus on tracking and reporting on (as many as possible) actions, impressions and interactions on behalf of a company as possible. In a more traditional sense, the ultimate goal of these individuals would be to manage an“Online-Web Q Score” of an entity.
  • Crowdsourcing = Leverage the participation and feedback. Take advantage of the mass participation. All of this activity can be treated like a massive focus group. Companies can use these channels to come up with creative names to new products or offerings, question product adoption, and determine market demand.

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