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Engagement: The Real Value of Social Media
Engagement has been the key element of human existence since time immemorial. Without engagement it is simply not possible to conceive of various institutions, families & fabric and culture around the world. It is due to engagement and the need of sharing which has led to so much advancement in technology and human capabilities. Social media marketing is no different. The very word ‘Social’ involves engagement. Actually engagement is what makes social media unique to the traditional media.
Earlier brands used to craft a message or commercial to be displayed on TV, Newspapers and Radio and it was static as your customers were not able to interact with the brand, although they kept on repeating their messages again and again so that their customers and prospects have a strong brand recall. In fact traditional media is still relevant and i strongly believe in the marketing mix where traditional and new media both play an important role hand-in-hand.
The point is traditional media has certain limitations, like customers can’t interact with other customers directly and not even with the brand. Social media has been a great boon as far as democratizing the conversations is concerned. From ‘one-to-many’, now the mode of communication is ‘one-to-many’ + ‘many-to-many’. Brands’ role is now to participate and engage rather than just broadcast and sit back to see the increase in sales.
These days customers have so much power that they can go to any social network or customer forum or even start their own websites or blogs to share their grieving. Especially on twitter news spread like wildfire. One just have to look at the post by Shrinidhi Hande on his bad experience with Mahindra Holidays. He wrote a detailed post on the discrepancies in Mahindra’s service and warned readers to avoid availing any service from them. This post was written in february 2007, and even now after 4 years you can see the comments rolling in. This is the power of the medium. One just has to search for ‘x brand sucks’ and there you can see a detailed list of crimes committed by a brand.
The moral of the story is you may delete negative comments on your online properties but you don’t have any power over 3rd party social media properties. So, it is better to engage and handle negative criticism as soon as possible.
The Real Value
The real value of social media is engagement as it brings you customer insights, creates relationships with your customers and ultimately increase in sales. So, rather than running after number of fans or followers on facebook and twitter, go for building valuable relationships. Help your customers, participate in their conversation. That will create a real value for you.