Engagement Is The Business Goal (for social media)


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As companies begin to explore whether or not social media is an viable channel for them a relevant question skeptics often rightfully ask is “what is the point?”  How can using social media help the business, sell more services, or better a product line?  This is a good question – and one that should be asked strategically before starting any social effort.

The business goals of social can vary somewhat from company to company but the underlying driver for social is to increase engagement with ones customers and prospects in order to increase awareness of the business, understanding of the offerings through the experiences of its customers, and create a relationship that can lead to sales.  As buyers, we feel more comfortable giving our dollars to someone we know or something we understand.

Engagement offers companies an opportunity to connect with their buyers.  This is why companies hold marketing events, sponsor seminars and participate in conference – in order to meet customers and prospects face-to-face and shake their hands.  Through social media engagement, there is a new playing field available on the digital channel. While certainly not as meaningful in many ways as playing a round of golf with someone, social media offers a better opportunity to reach more buyers and prospects and start a dialogue with them. 

Some companies choose to engage on existing social channels  such as Facebook, LinkedIN and Twitter where there is a large number of people, thus increasing their odds of reaching more people.  Others find value in creating their own communities where they can bring the buyers to them and have greater ability to inform, educate and engage.  There are benefits and drawbacks to both options and they are not mutually exclusive as a company can run a successful online community for clients and use the public social channel to drive awareness and membership.  In any event, however, a business driver for using social channels is to engage.

Here is how the Engagement Cycle works:

A client or prospect has a question, an issue or a problem. They reach out to a community of people in search of an answer.  Through the interaction with either the company or with another client or prospect they get an problem solved or an answer to their question.

As humans, when we are assisted by another we naturally feel gratitude or appreciation.  Typically we have a tendency to reciprocate a good deed.  Often times, the feeling of gratitude plays out as need to help another person or share the information we just received.  Therefore, we share the information (often in the form of a retweet on Twitter, or a discussion group post in response to a request for help) or seek an opportunity to help another person.  We now feel connected to the person who helped us – and in many cases in a business context, it will be either someone from the company or a client of the company.

One the information flow begins, other people are assisted by the information they have seen online and they too experience connectedness.  They also often make a contribution within the social channel about the issue and share the information they have or recount their experiences.  This persistent information flow created a robust body of work about the product, service or company.  When it is positive or informative it is to the company benefits, and when it is negative, the company suffers especially if they are not well represented in the information flow cycle.  In other words, a company who is getting negative attention through the channel but does not respond is more likely to continue to experience negative information flow.   

In any case, the engagement cycle is critical piece of the information flow. When a company becomes involved in the engagement cycle they can ensure accurate information is shared in a timely fashion.  They can create nodes of connectedness with buyers, increase the impact of the relationship with the company and potentially heighten the likelihood of being considered when a buying decision is underway.  It is important to remember the fundamental rule that people buy from people, not companies. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vanessa DiMauro
Vanessa DiMauro is CEO of Leader Networks, a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building. DiMauro is a popular speaker, researcher and author. She has founded numerous online communities, and has developed award winning social business strategies for some of the most influential organizations in the world. Her work is frequently covered by leading publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.


  1. Can I be provocative and say that disengagement is the goal?

    Social media works when people can ‘do their own thing’. Not only do customers do half your work for you, you can take one or two steps back. But we have to conceptualize what it is they are trying to do and why linking up their activity will benefit them (and us).

    Thanks for the post though. It helped me pinpoint what I was thinking.

  2. Jo,
    good point – in some cases “engagement” could and should be represented as “disengagement” with respect to product ideas/ innovation and customer feedback. When a company stops trying to control the message – when they dis-engage from the outcomes and endeavor to listen and learn in order to impact change they can benefit greatly. All too often organizations *think* they know what the customer wants and they are not always correct. But, through the act of disengaging influence in order to learn, they have the opportunity to really find out what matters.

  3. Social media has gain much popularity in such small time period which is a good initiative step.Social medias help a lot to achieve high business valuation in order to make progress.

  4. I agree, engagement should be considered as a first level goal… Engagement speaks to our deeper needs being met, while collaboration speaks to people working better together – difficult to do when our needs aren’t being met, and thus, we aren’t fully engaged.

  5. Business goal should be made unique and practical. Aside from profitability other things also should be kept in mind such as achieving brand recognition, launching new products regularly and creating an employee-friendly work environment. Setting business goals gives all employees a clear vision of what they are working to achieve.

  6. The goal is for participation to move to engagement Engagement – from speaking at or to customers to engaging with them. This means creating processes to respond to issues, both internally and externally, and ensuring that communications are clear, accurate, and authentic.

  7. Social media has become a central component of marketing: Collaborative, social technology is now moving across the organization, into business functions ranging from HR and legal to product management and the supply chain. This is the perfect site for marketers, business unit managers and owners, HR professionals and anyone else looking to better understand how to use social technologies and platforms to build loyalty in customers, employees, partners and suppliers to drive long term growth and profits.

  8. 4 Important Social Media strategies to improve Engagement:
    1. Learn How to Step Into Conversations- Social media is so named because it allows people to come together and interact.
    2. Social Media Etiquette- Social media posting requires extreme tact and proper etiquette.
    3. Remember Your Goal: Making Money- Keep in mind that your social media marketing plan is not to make friends and gain followers, but to help you make money.
    4. Remain Professional- When it comes to small business social media marketing, you want to present an appearance of professionalism.


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