5 Triggers of Social Media Engagement – Live

Social Media has by now embedded itself in most marketers minds. While some companies are still struggling with proof, feasibility and other hurdles of progress, others have embraced this already-mainstream phenomenon and made strides in extending their marketing strategy to incorporate the social aspect. I am a firm believer that we are now past the education phase and into the application phase of adoption and a new ‘golden’ buzzword has emerged: engagement. While still somewhat vague is its practical description, we are now seeking best ways to engage an audience.

Throughout my research, experimentation and client work, I believe I have identified 5 triggers which help facilitate this engagement. I will be sharing these with the Internet Marketing Conference audience in Vancouver next week, along with case studies and post-campaign discussion. My hope is to spark some new ideas and insights. In the meantime, I’d love to share them with you in short form.

  1. Win – We have a built-in, innate desire to come out on top. We love to win. This manifests itself in different ways for different people, but the principle remains the same. For example, someone may get excited to catch a great discount (win over others who paid more), or in a straight-up run for a promotion. This usually entails some aspect of competition and generally requires some sort of ranking or comparison. From the very early days of marketing, competitions, contests, and giveaways have been used to facilitate engagement and its no different with social media.
  2. Give – So popular that is actually changing the way some business approach… business. Ever heard of ‘freemium‘? It’s a business model where the consumer actually receives a service or produce free of charge and then later has the opportunity to upgrade to a version with higher functionality or options. I believe this stems from one of the oldest tricks in the book, the ‘puppy dog close‘. The salesman would allow you to take a car for a spin with no strings attached and drive it for 24 hours after which (or so the belief is) you just wouldn’t want to get back in your crappy old car and purchase the new one. Again, this can manifest itself in different ways, but the key point to take away from here in terms of effective social media marketing is to provide something of value to your consumers, with no strings attached. This could be in form of articles, videos, demos, samplers, etc. This trigger allows you to start building a trusting relationship (unless you’re a used car lot, in which case it’s just creepy, undesired and annoying).
  3. Vote – ‘Don’t forget to vote for your favorite…’. How many times have you heard that in the recent days, months or years? You hear it often because it triggers another innate drive we have. We love to be part of something. Be it a group, a movement or even a mob. As a manifestation of this involvement, we like to have an impact on something that matters to us, as evident in US politics… and not evident in Canadian politics (Who’s the prime minister again?). Smart marketers can take this simple trigger and turn it into something of substantial value. What we’re really accessing here is a ‘buy-in‘ from the audience. If they care enough to vote, they’ll care enough to follow the entire process and actually be invested in the outcome (Who did you vote for? I voted for… because…). And it’s that personal investment into a brand that yields social brand equity and continued engagement.
  4. Share – Before you click on that ‘send’ or ‘update’ button, ask yourself this if that message has the power to transcend your audience. This trigger was captured perfectly by someone who said ‘Create messages for your network’s network’. It’s almost impossible to always hit home-runs, but consider how what you’re saying really is. Is it something that your audience will want to share with their own, personal networks.
  5. Create – By now, you must have heard all about how Internet is a ‘two-way conversation’ etc. This trigger leverages that property and has some serious power in bringing the online and offline worlds together (if you choose to do so). It’s as simple (and scary) as allowing your audience to co-create with you. Some examples include opening up a book cover design by Guy Kawasaki, to one of my favorites that comes from the music world. I recently heard about a band who opened an awesome opportunity for their fans: Someone would be chosen to be a guest performer on their next album. Imagine jamming alongside your favorite singer and having your voice on the next disc they cut. If that doesn’t create evangelists in the marketplace, I don’t know what would.

There you have it. A short preview to a keynote speech next week.

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