When Social Meets the Real World - Engagement, Authenticity are the Challenge

5 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

Slam bam thank you ma’am.  

Sounds kind of vulgar doesn’t it? It’s certainly no way to treat someone that we’d want to have a meaningful, fruitful relationship with.

But that might be precisely what we’re doing in our Social Media campaigns when we aim to win as many Facebook “likes” and Twitter “followers” as possible and then fail to provide them with anything that’s meaningful in return. And “meaningful” in this context, means something that the other party wants, needs or values. It’s specific to them rather than something that you’ve decided you want to pitch or unload. It can’t be said often enough:

A Click ≠ A Relationship

At Social Media Week in New York last month, dating was the common metaphor. Digital Marketers, Media Placement Firms, Brands and some of the web’s hottest properties gathered to talk about the industry’s current state and its future.There were stories to tell, problems to solve, bridges to build, and non-stop talk about developing relationships with customers that include both “gives” and “gets.” Throwing the same Social Media campaign at everyone who has agreed to have a “relationship” with you is so yesterday; call it “permission” SPAMing.

Everyone is beginning to understand this and they are looking for ways in which they (or their clients) can connect with customers and be something other than annoying.

Engagement is like Dating


Engaging a customer is a lot like dating, so said the panelists at “Being a Good Date: Applying Dating Tactics to Social Media Engagement.”

Though the Social Media experts (Christina Vuleta Managing Director Perks Consulting, Lauren Perkins CEO and Founder Perks Consulting, Bianca Caampued Co-Founder Small Girls PR, Jessica Massa Author and Co-Founder The Gaggle.com, and Laurie Davis, an Online Dating Coach and Author eFlirt) differed on how they might go about courting the proverbial prince -- one thing was the same -- it depends on who the prince is and what he likes.

One prince might like getting cozy at home, another might be into art and still another might like scaling cliffs. How you appeal to these different types should be different, even if you’re pitching the same product (like toothpaste, mouthwash or ice cream).

Where you find these princes is likely to be different as well (and Facebook is not always the answer), so is reaching them in a way in which they’d like to be reached. A cliff jumper might react to being shocked by an occasional alarming tweet, an art collector might respond better to a particular Tumblr post.

Pace matters as well. Some princes might want to get frisky right away while others may need a number of repetitive well-paced, well placed touches.

The bottom line, said the panel, is not only content but context -- establishing your brand’s voice and personality specific to an audience and remaining authentic throughout the process.Lose authenticity and you lose attention, said the experts.

“Authenticity is the new currency,” was a consistent theme, not only on this panel, but during the week.
And there’s one other thing the “Being a Good Date” panel noted; your “kiss” won’t turn every frog into a prince. So, “don’t try to be something you’re not, and don’t waste your time trying to engage those who aren’t a good fit or don’t love you back,” said the team at Small Girls PR.

Learning Opportunities

Engagement Means Real Connections

Speaking of love, or even “likes” for that matter,

A "like" ≠ Engagement

While two to three years ago this may have been thought to be the case, Engagement now requires actual connection through an experience or by giving or gaining something of value. This wasthe sentiment of the “Saving Our Social” panel whose members included Sarah Vaynerman, Esvee Group, Founder and Chief Strategist of the Esvee Group, Gary J. Nix, Social Media & Email Marketing Specialist at Blue Fountain Media, Greg Wacks, Director of Content & Business Development @Spreecast, Ariel Norwood, Whole Foods and Gemma Craven, Ogilvy NY.

Engagement is highly targeted and actually measurable, to the benefit of all, according to the panel. Most Whole Foods stores, for example, have their own specific sets of Facebook fans. When their campaigns talk about “Bob the Butcher,” he’s the guy who is actually trimming the beef when you get to your local store. You can ask him face to face what kind of rubs you should use or how long you should cook your turkey. (Or you can just wave.) When you don’t know what cut of meat would be best for the dinner-party-on-demand that was forced upon you 20 minutes ago, Bob is who you’ll think of -- you’ll run to the store and ask him for advice.

Same holds true for Pete in produce -- when he tweets “Cherries just in from Chile. Come try a few free 2-3 PM,” he might just get you into the store.

The point is you can have a real world relationship (or what feels like a real world 1:1 relationship) with guys like Peter and Bob. You will buy from them, and you might even tell your neighbors what they tweet and like.

That, my friends, is engagement.

And it doesn’t stop there. More to come on the subject over the next few weeks.

Image courtesy of chrisbrignell (Shutterstock)