This post was inspired by my recent reading of Sprout Social’s Index, which shared some eye-opening, though not surprising statistics on growth vs. engagement. Growth of the networks we know, love and loathe continue to grow at a respectable rate. In Q3 of 2013, network growth was at a healthy 56%. However, engagement shines as the growth winner at 178%. Engagement has grown 9x faster than the networks themselves.
Why? Well, that’s the $1,000,000,000 question.
In this day and age, all communication is social. Consumers are educated and empowered to keep corporations in check. The world has truly shifted from one of Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) to that of Caveat Venditor (Seller Beware) as consumers flock to Facebook to air their grievances and complaints in a public forum. A large brand with a large social media following has to walk a fine line now to encourage engagement with subtle, yet effective marketing, while maintaining an open forum for customer communication.
Brands have the power to direct the conversation, and doing so is no longer simple and can’t be done with ad hoc execution. To be an effective brand communicator, brands need to direct the dialogue from their core. Consistent, supportive messaging combined with engaging content will help a brand maintain loyalty.
Encouraging a customer to follow a brand is now standard practice, but crossing the gap to directing engagement will prove to be a balance for many brands. Developing and publishing content that maintains the delicate balance between discussion and sales will be the most difficult part. Consumers who engage brands on social media currently expect something special, different or additional to their general interaction with a business.
When you have a bit of free time, read this piece by Sprout Social.