Engagement Does Matter

Last night, I participated in #pr20chat and one of the questions asked was how much brands should schedule tweets? The questions sparked some great discussion, but it also got me thinking about how companies should approach Twitter, and the need for engagement and two-way dialogue.

So, what’s the perfect mix? @Andrew_ShipPR and I shared it should be a balance of 25% scheduled and 75% organic or engagement types of tweets. The 75% could include retweets, @replies and relationship-building tweets. Sometimes there might be some flux, but it shouldn’t surpass 30% of scheduled content. This enables us to build relationships, while sharing some promotional content. Rationale? There are three key things we need to remember:

There is such a thing as too much. Moderation is key. Automated tweets make you sound like a machine, and no one wants to talk to a machine. Well, maybe if you were Rosie from the Jetsons. (I loved her.) If we use scheduled tweets as a crutch, we won’t actually be on Twitter. Or worse, since we rely on scheduled tweets we also miss out on conversations that may be happening in the community or beyond. For example, you might have had a light and humorous post about your weekend plans, during the Japan earthquake. Mistakes happen, but being online and active minimizes the likelihood of an oops.

Engagement is essential. I recently read that engagement doesn’t matter in health care social media, but I have to admit that I disagree. Yes, engagement for brands is being available when customers need them, but it also means that in order to be available – people have to know what value brands bring. Engagement from a brand means sharing valuable content – content your audience will find useful or actually use. That means you have to know your audience before you can just start blasting messages. It also means you have to be listening to your community to find engagement opportunities to share resources and information (aka valuable content).

You can’t automate customer service. As more and more brands leverage Twitter as a customer service outlet and opportunity, it’s important to watch, listen and respond to members of your community. There’s no automation to this. You can’t walk away and say, “Okay, they’ll just call my 1-800 number.” Proactive customer service takes time, energy and yes, money. However, Ernan Roman, author of Voice of the Customer Marketing, reminds us that it’s 7 to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell an existing customer. So, it’s worth the investment.

Seeing a theme here? Listen. Listening is crucial to any sort of engagement. And listening happens throughout the process. But it’s also to remember that there is a distinct different between listening and understanding (as Beth Harte shared today – check out her post here).  So, don’t just watch what’s happening, pay attention and understand the context of the conversation.

What are your thoughts on the mix of scheduled tweets versus organic ones?

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Posted on March 24, 2011, in Marketing, Public Relations, social media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi Laura

    I wrote the “doesn matter” post and I just want to comment a bit.

    My sense of humor can be a bit deceptive.

    Of course engagement matters. But too often in conversations about social media, there’s so much repetitive noise about “engage! Engagr engage” that it’s becoming almost meaningless.

    You don’t just engage to engage or because it’s sashionable among social media experts.

    You have to have a holistic appreciation for todays media and the kinds of cultural and behaviroal changes they are making.

    “Engagement” is just a normal, standard part of communicating. My sarcasm is getting at this: “no kiding, Sherlock – of course you work with people. Do we even have to discuss this??”

    You know what you have to be these days? Here’s what you have to be:

    Fascinating.

    Phil (see: i lm engaging 😉

    • Hi Phil! Hope you’re well! It’s hard to disagree with you (and I rarely do), but the truth is – I see your point. Yes, people continue to press this imaginary “engage, engage, engage” button, but nothing comes of it. I hear it and feel a lot of the pain you share as well. It’s one thing to include engagement in your overall strategy, it’s another thing to do it. Sometimes, we have to start with a numerical goal, so that we have something to visualize and work toward. When people talk about something they are passionate about, conversations always seem to flourish and engagement is just natural. Now that, is definitely fascinating!

      Thanks for checking out the blog! Maybe I’ll see you at another conference soon – it’s been a while. Take care and talk soon!

      Thanks,
      Laura

  2. I just wrote a literature review (in the process of being reviewed) regarding video game development strategies, and I’m attempting to bridge a gap between communication and business practice. A lot of companies are still very against utilizing something like Twitter just because ‘it’s not how things are done.’ If you want to keep in touch with more than just your customers who send snail mail, email, and call, then it’s how things are going to get done…

    I agree that it needs to be distributed such that we don’t feel like we’re talking to robots. I made a similar argument about using Twitter in conjunction with other well known media. You can’t use just one, and you can’t use either in a fashion that makes people feel uninvolved! Acknowledge what people want, and try to cater (I know it isn’t always possible) accordingly.

    • Absolutely! The idea of “it’s not how things are done” continues to resurrect itself. People said that about radio, TV, websites and now social media. We should focus on the right things to do, rather than focusing on what we’ve done in the past. Reach your audience where they are, with something of value and relevance to them, through the channels they prefer. Sometimes social isn’t the right fit, and that’s okay. We just have to stop and do the research first. Shiny toy syndrome doesn’t do anyone good.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Appreciate it.

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