Social Media Scales of Engagement

08/09/2012

Scales _ freedigitalphotos.netThis week I was called to jury duty. The Honorable John Doran, Jr. presided.

A jury selection is much like making a film or a commercial. There are a lot of stops, starts and waiting around while lawyers and judge side-bar conversations that you can't hear but would so love to be invited to the party. Voir dire (questioning the jury panel to establish suitability) of the 50 member panel took over a day.

Much like the beginning of a focus group, to help respondents develop a comfort level for future complex questions, the defense attorney asked what I thought was an interesting multiple choice question.  How did we feel about our day in court?

1. Excited to be part of the process

2. Interested in the process

3. Anxious or apprehensive 

4. Frustrated or perhaps a little resentful

An ah ha moment. Each of these feelings could be held by people new to social media or even challenged with taking social media initiatives to the next level. The big realization .. we rarely stop to acknowledge and address these concerns before we plow into creating strategies and executing tactics. The results can be too many side-bar conversations that add time and dollars to our process.  

Several times Judge Duran offered explanations about the proceedings that brought context helping us not only understand the legal whys of the Court but the humanity of the judicial system. I suspect this was also his way of easing the boredom of the wait .. his and ours.

As a group, we were engaged with Judge Duran but on a passive basis. That is no one commented or asked a question. Our thoughts were our own not encouraged to be shared.  One might say we were a captive audience and the good judge held our attention because he provided a distraction from the tediousness of the day.

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person?

Later that night I conducted a directed discussion with a group of Millennials about their Facebook habits. Although Facebook of course encourages interaction through likes and comments, the feedback was that a like did not necessarily equate to brand engagement. And most certainly a random like could not be taken at face value to gauge brand loyalty. 

We discussed brands that drop multiple daily status updates that are little more than thinly veiled ad disguises.  Where is the humanity in that?

An ah ha momement. As a marketer living in the age of social networks I think about what engagement means in terms of bringing a brand to life.

How do we know a like from a passing post in a customer's stream was clicked while multiple tasking or to ease the bordom of the day? We don't. Yet we make multi-million dollar decisions based on what equates to a teeny percentage of our base of page likes. 

Just asking ..

1. Are we tipping the social media scales of engagement with wishful thinking that likes = engagment = expanded awareness = monetization?

2. Are we taking the easy way out, of a complex situation, to justify our activity in social networks?

3. Are turning one of the most exciting and innovative communication stategies of 21st century marketing into another mundane messaging channel? 

4. Are we missing the opportunity to create authentic people-to-people engaged relationships? 

But .. he spoke to us about what he obviously cared about and showed us his humanity. How can you help but engage with that type of person? 

Interestingly, it's a lesson that the Food Network is also learining. People relate to people.

Perhaps some social media brand managers might take a lesson or two from His Honor. 

Graphic credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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