Social media engagement.” It’s a phrase that generates a lot of buzz, but what does it actually mean? And, more importantly, why does it matter to companies that are integrating social media into their PR and marketing strategies?
We turned to some of the leading communication experts to discover the importance of sparking online engagement and how this new focus has forced PR, marketing and advertising campaigns to evolve.
5 Ways Social Media Engagement Enhances Communication Campaigns
While experts may disagree about exact definition of “engagement,” there is one thing they all agree on: Social media, and specifically the ability to engage with stakeholders, has changed PR and marketing.
“Social media has completely changed our work, and when executed well, it has positive implications for multiple divisions, from consumer insights to product development/innovation to marketing to corporate reputation,” says Hawks.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these changes.
1. Start With a Foundation of Data
All across the web, Internet users are “liking” and following brands, leaving reviews and posting comments, thereby creating a massive amount of data points from which marketers can learn.
“Developing all of our engagement campaigns on a foundation of consumer-behavior data helps ensure that our efforts will indeed resonate –- that she will be active with our messages rather than passive,” explains Hawks.
Hemann encourages brands to think about two “buckets” of metrics: behavioral and diagnostic. Behavioral includes everything from shares to sales, while diagnostic metrics are more tool-specific, such as impressions of a Facebook Page or likes-per-post.
2. Better Understanding of the Audience’s Needs
A core element of social media revolves around conversation. Online conversation follows the same patterns as “offline” conversations — it requires both talking and listening. If brands are always talking, they’re not listening, and if they’re not listening, they won’t understand the audience’s needs.
Or, as Hawks puts it, “[Social media] has helped us to better understand our audiences — ‘listening’ to their dialogue either validates insights we have or teaches us new insights. It leads with the consumer’s needs, rather than the brand’s desires, which completely flips traditional models.”
By monitoring online conversations about your brand, industry, product or related services, you can strengthen product development, customer service and a variety of other core business functions.
3. Bypass Gatekeepers and Interact Directly With Target Communities
Before social media, companies relied on traditional PR, marketing and advertising to deliver messages to target audiences. Often, a “middle man” (such as a newspaper reporter) ultimately determined what was written or said. With marketing and advertising, companies could maintain control over the message, but these mediums also lacked a mechanism to collect immediate feedback and real-time interactions.
This ability to bypass gatekeepers and facilitate direct interactions with consumers and communities is one of the most important aspects of social media. As a result, communicators can be more efficient, responsive, helpful and resourceful.
Clark says, “Social media lets us identify the people we need to talk to, and the people we want to talk to. It gives us the chance to build, track and maintain the relations we have with our stakeholders with the added benefit of taking conversational communication and preserving it for an audience to witness and add to.”