Image taken at Flea Street Cafe by Michael Biesemeyer
We hear the term engagement thrown around a lot these days. "We need to engage with our customers." "We need to find new ways to be more engaged in the social media space." " We had better start engaging with our audience before we lose their attention to another competitor." If you do a Google search of "engage social media restaurant," you will find 861,000 results.
Let's imagine that we are each in a long term relationship with social media, but are engaged at different points along the relationship spectrum. Some of us are in the infatuation stage, others dating, and still others are married and committed.
Broken down, it looks a bit like this:
Infatuated: At this stage, people are in awe of the possibilities, and so eager to be involved that they start everywhere, all at once. They are very excited and drawn to the technology, lights, bells, and whistles of social tech. They gush over sites like Facebook and Twitter, even though they know little about how either site works or why they exist. People in this stage are often too unfocused and excited to commit to any sort of social media strategy. They're content to dabble with about any social media app that comes along. They just want to have fun and are enthralled by the newness of it all.
Dating: They've got their favorite sites and apps, have several social media accounts hanging out online, but nothing serious or steady. They're trying out a lot of different things, trying to find the right fit. They take the advice of their friends, are excited by novelty of the "Retweet" and "Like" button, get a kick out of sharing content and generally just want to connect.
Married: These are the serious practitioners, the daily users and content creators. They've decided which platforms work best and are engaged on multiple channels on a daily basis. Most likely, they are infusing social media directly into their work and personal life. Their involvement is having a powerful effect on the overall shape and direction of the social web. To a large extent, they have entered into a symbiotic relationship with social media, using it as an extension of themselves, a second brain or limb to augment reality. Their contact with social media is an integral element of their daily experience. It's very real for them.
As you move through the webosphere, expanding your social media footprint, remember that a) your tastes will change b) the tools and platforms will change and c) everyone else is moving at their own pace. People will come in and out of your sphere of influence at various stages in their own relationship with social media. You will fall in and out of love with different tools, apps, and gadgets. This is a journey that we've only just begun. As corny and cliched as that might sound, not everyone seems to get it. Look around. People are practically falling over themselves trying to figure out this "social media thing," rushing into it with adolescent giddiness.
So, how will you engage? Better yet, how will you interact with others within your business or organization who may be at a different point along the social media relationship spectrum? How can we capitalize on the excitement of new users, nurture and connect the slightly more experienced users, and harness the wisdom and insights of more seasoned users?