Home > Business Strategy, Marketing > 2011: The Year of Engagement

2011: The Year of Engagement

Twitter has over 200 Million users generating over 65 million tweets per day. Facebook has more than 1/2 a Billion users and has overtaken google as the number 1 online destination. LinkedIn is adding users at a rate of one per second. These are just the big three. Over 1/5 of the world’s population is now a member of one of the world’s two-dozen social media platforms.

These platforms are becoming powerful sources of information and connection. They have changed the way we receive information. People are creating audiences and networks of believers. Audiences are listening to influencers. Audiences are engaged. It has changed the way that people interact with brands, and how brands interact with people.

If you’re in the communications industry, you need to understand this trend. You need to be able to react quickly to the lightning-fast changes and instant feedback that is now a part of everyday life. You need to respond to your audience instantly or, at least within 24-hours. You need to create value within this channel. You basically need to forget the traditional marketing methods that have brought you success in the past. In the words of Scott Stratten, you need to STOP Marketing and START Engaging.

Although I feel the term ‘engagement’ runs the risk of becoming a redundant buzz word, the fundamentals behind this term will be the key to success in any marketing activity in 2011 and beyond. People want to buy what they know and seek out opinions from trusted sources. They recommend what they like and recommend avoiding what they dislike. Think about what you dislike about companies that market to you. Do you shift+delete a company’s newsletter or email? Do you automatically toss a Direct Mail piece in the blue box (without even opening it)? Do you avoid answering the door when you see a person standing on your doorstep with a clipboard? Do you cringe when the call-display comes up with a 1-800 number during dinner?

I’ll assume you answered, ‘Yes‘ to the questions above in which case, why are you trying to reach your audience using the same methods that drive you crazy?!

People want to deal with people, not brands. After all, you don’t talk to a brand; you talk to a person. Engagement means creating content that creates conversations and ultimately, connections. Engagement creates relationships. It strengthens perceptions and it spreads quickly (both positively and negatively). Social media fosters those relationships. It enables people to connect with other people quicker and on a deeper level than ever before. It creates trust. It creates equity.

Brands that are effective at engaging their audience are seen as leaders in social media marketing. They don’t set out to monetize the platform, or show the ROI, rather – they understand the value of creating deep, meaningful relationships with their audience. They seek out ways to find and connect with the influencers within their industry. They know that engaging these influencers favourably will help them connect with a huge number of potential customers that each influencer is connected to.

Sounds great. But, how do I find influencers and engage my audience?

As they begin to shine up the ball in Times Square, marketers should focus on the following and apply them in their marketing activities in 2011.

1. Create conversations and provide value in your social media platforms. If someone sends you a message on twitter, or facebook, retweets one of your messages – respond to them! If they have a question, recommend a solution and help to connect them with that solution.

2. Find and engage your influencers. If your influencers like the content you are serving out, they are likely to share it with their networks and so on, and so on.

3. Reward people for following you. Create promotions that are exclusive to your social media followers and tailored to their specific needs. They are likely to share this experience with their followers as well.

4. Create promotions specifically for influencers. Use services like Klout, PostRank (and others) to find the influencers within your industry. This will be a handful of people but their effective reach is exponential.

If you’re one of the few marketers who have already embraced these practices, you already know the impact they can have on your existing marketing activities.  Since you’ll be talking to the right audience, you’ll see higher response rates.  Since your solution comes recommended from a friend, you’ll increase conversion rates.  Your effective reach is increased.  Your leads increase.  Your facebook fans increase.  Your Twitter following increases.  Your sales increase.

Thanks for reading.  Now, start engaging!  (leave me a comment)!

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  1. Joe
    January 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Excellent post Duench!
    I’m happy to say I know a lot of Chefs and Restauranteurs that are now active social media members. And believe me, they’re the last to job on a technology bandwagon. Moral of the story: if a Chef finds time to FB, EVERYONE IS! We can’t get a better way to Network and build business!

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