What next after social engagement?


Luke Brynley-Jones is the founder of Our Social Times and is hosting Social CRM 2013, a two-day conference and workshop in London on the 8th & 9th July.

Social CRM

When social media marketing started out, brands quickly learnt that direct selling on social didn’t work. It was all about sharing and engaging. We’ve since seen a lurch towards engagement – likes, comments and shares – with social networks, such as Facebook, ranking posts by engagement and influencer tools, such as Klout and Traackr, using engagement among the factors used to define a person’s social influence.

The obvious problem with this set-up is that the value of an engagement for the brand and the person involved usually isn’t related to the type of action made – whether it’s a Like, a video view or a comment – but the result of that interaction.

For the person this value might occur in the form of extra knowledge gained, feeling altruistic (from sharing) or just having a laugh.  For the brand, though, the benefit might take the form of a new contact – i.e. fan or follower, increased awareness among friends of fans, or a strengthening in their relationship with an existing contact.

This raises a tricky question
Should social media engagement tactics focus on achieving a like, comment or share – i.e. pure marketing – or on strengthening existing relationships?

The potential ‘race to the bottom’ as companies adopt, often, mindless engagement tactics has been well documented. What hasn’t been explored to the same extent is the other side of the equation: the point at which your social media marketing strategy moves away from engagement for marketing and becomes engagement for relationship-building, i.e. social CRM (sCRM).

I recently blogged about how Dutch Bank, ABN AMRO, is taking the long view of social media, seeking to build long-term relationships with their customers rather than chasing the instant gratification of the ‘like’. I’ve also posted about how, for some brands, effective social customer service can, for some types of organisations, deliver a higher ROI than social media marketing.

Evidently, the shift towards focusing on building long-term relationships with customers isn’t easy, but it’s also an integral part of the social business agenda that’s emerged in the past couple of years. The idea of the end-to-end socially-enabled organization – in which the silos of Enterprise Social Networks (ESN’s), customer communities and a brands’ social media presence are broken down – has at its heart the creation of real relationships that facilitate greater information-sharing and efficiencies.

For the truly visionary CMO, this is the end-game for social media marketing – and it should impact on every interaction. Moving from the mindset of “how can we get our fans to engage more?” to “how can we provide more value and build more trust with our fans?” takes guts and determination, but in the long term it has to be more sustainable than chasing Likes.

Luke will be joined by We Are Social’s Tom Ollerton, plus speakers from eBay, Nokia, Sony and BSkyB at Social CRM 2013 London on the 8th and 9th July. We Are Social readers can get a 10% discount using this code: WAS10.