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  • The Future of ‘Engagement’ in the Social Media

    As we discussed in last week’s post (and indeed thank you all for your comments and ‘engaging with me’ here and on Twitter and elsewhere), the hype and excessive emphasis on engagement for social media strategies – to the exclusion of other necessary elements for brands both commercial and personal that need to focus on tangible results such as selling more or finding a job) is often overrated if not decidedly misplaced. Although in an ideal world we would love to be able to interact with customers and followers on a regular basis (at least those who want to interact back with us, since we cannot take for granted in any way that all of them desire to do so), in the real world and given the constraints in time and resources we are limited by, we need to be selective in our interactions and concentrate on those who matter most for the achieving of our goals.

    Now it is time for me to confess: I have kept an ace up my sleeve throughout this fascinating discussion. For unbeknown to many even within the confines of the Web 2.0, the nature of engagement is about to change forever thanks to the new promising social media applications and technologies that are going to allow us to extend the reach of our engagement with our communities of clients and followers beyond what seemed not only possible but probable until very recently. Just as with any other technological innovation (reading with the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in he XV century being an excellent example), it is not only the amount of engagement that will change but its very nature as well. In other words: once the implementation of new engagement-savvy apps and programs is felt across the board, engagement in the social media will never be the same again.

    Enter the stage ITweetLive, one of such tools already beginning to make itself heard in the Twittersphere that will serve to illustrate the nature of things to come. Some of the (at least on the surface) distinctive advantages that will allow for smarter, more focused, less time-consuming engagement with relevant parties include:

    – Enhanced ‘search’ capabilities that will zero in on those people talking about our brand and our specific niche organized by geo and keyword targeting.

    – The ability to create unified responses that would be duplicated and tested statistically among our audiences until the optimal one is found and the rest are discarded. This is referred to as ‘A/B testing’, following Google’s famous tool Google Website Optimizer currently used by online marketeers everywhere.

    – The possibility of ‘bulk’ actions and of making bulk messages and interactions seemingly personalized to their recipients.

    – A chat widget that automatically generates a tweet when visitors type in the widget area and ensures we can interact (if we choose to) with those who desire to have a conversation with us in real time.

    – Measuring the results and the ROI of our engagement efforts (in the case of Twitter: RTs, mentions, click-through rates and the like) with a tracking statistic, built-in platform to that effect.

    – Seamless integration with two of the better-known online influence measuring apps – Klout and Peer Index – to help with the identification and targeting of the all-important influencers.

    It is hard to underestimate the impact that tools like ITweetLive will have in the way brands interact in the social media. And yet before we venture to embrace them and integrate them indiscriminatelly into our strategies, we should take heed of the wise words of American philosopher Ken Wilber: every new technology that seems pregnant with wonderful new opportunities at times hides some  ugly dangers in its midst (as the case of nuclear power so poignantly proves). Engagement may be democratized and made available to companies and individuals of all walks of life in this way, but can standardized group messages be truly be referred to as ‘engagement’? Will spontaneous and direct, non-app-mediated interactions become increasingly a thing of the past, especially given their mounting cost? And are we likely to witness a divide of engagement between the haves and the have-nots who can’t afford to implement technological solutions of this kind?

    Be it as it may, ITweetLive and related tools are ushering in nothing short of a new era for the conversations and indeed relationships between brands and those who follow them. Time and numbers constraints may be about to be superseded through innovative and without question ingenious technologies, though a price to be paid in term of freshness and overall quality of the interaction remains to be seen. Stay put.

    Author: 

    Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is included in the ‘Top Social Media Influencers’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists @OscarDS. He is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’ and the co-author of ‘Marketing de Atraccion 2.0’.

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