A very common question amongst business owners who are still pondering the point and purpose of using social media is “will it actually result in more customers?”
My answer is simple – of course it will …… unless …… that is your primary goal.
Social media is such a powerful tool and can result in extraordinary exposure if people like what they see and engage. The key that many people don't recognize or pay enough attention to is the power of engagement.
What is engagement?
It’s a word which wasn’t used extensively in the past (other than in conversation about matrimony) but has become much more prevalent in my vocabulary. Actually now that I think about it, I’m a bit sick of hearing myself say it. In my experience, engagement is the magic sauce. It’s what makes things go “viral”, it increases exposure and brings businesses and brands to the attention of people who may otherwise have been unaware of them. More on that later.
To engage by definition is to occupy the attention or efforts of a person (according to dictionary.com). In the world of social media we require the “efforts”. We need to engage via an action. When someone sees our post or tweet, they may digest it and gain useful information from it, ie. we’ve occupied their attention, but if they don’t take action they will not have increased our visibility nor will we know we engaged them.
Our only indicator of engagement is when we can see a person took action. I’m referring to actions such as clicking like, retweeting, making a comment, sharing our information. These things require the reader to do something and this is true engagement.
Why do we need engagement?
As I mentioned above, when a person takes action they are effectively sharing our post with their friends or network. You see when you post an update or write a tweet you have an audience who have already liked or followed you. They then have the opportunity to see your updates. The instant a person interacts with your status or tweet they are effectively sharing your update with their network, in essence increasing exposure of your brand.
If the person who interacts with you happens to be an influential person with a large audience they could potentially be exposing you to a lot of people.
When engagement continues, from one persons’ network to the next persons’ network, that’s when we see viral exposure take place. The numbers can be quite staggering when you see interaction take place on a large scale.
Without the interaction, ie. engagement, nothing goes beyond your existing network.
Does engagement have other benefits?
Engagement is also the glue that builds relationships. Think about people you meet and get to know offline, in the real world. You typically don’t meet somebody and immediately know everything about them. You engage in conversation, you exchange thoughts and ideas and over time you learn more about each other, build rapport and a good relationship. That relationship is likely to convert to referrals and/or sales.
The same transactions occur online. When interaction takes place, rapport can be established and build, and a relationship developed. From relationships come sales and referrals.
The process is the same – online or offline – where we go wrong is when we don’t focus on the relationship and we focus on the end result, the sale.
Don’t forget - engagement is a vital step in developing a relationship and a relationship is the key to converting likes to sales.