A lot of people, including me, spend a lot of time talking about what social media engagement is. I mean, some people even do a whole series based on that subject (heh heh heh). But I think sometimes it’s important to remember what things are *not*. I think, based on my observations over the last month or so, that there needs to be some review of what social media engagement should not become, paths social media engagement would be better off not traveling.
As per usual these are just my opinions, so if you want to disagree or voice a slightly different opinion, you are more than welcome!
Social Media Engagement is NOT a Contest
I see a lot of people engage with others via a mode of competition. It often starts out, at least, as friendly jousting. Sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless of how it ends up, engaging with people is not the same as trying to out-maneuver people. It is not the same as trying to prove to other people that you are better than those folks over there. It is not trying to do everything but one step further to show that you can. That is all under the umbrella of competitiveness, but you are not necessarily engaging if you are only doing those types of things.
Social Media Engagement is NOT Discarding People After They’ve Served Your Purposes
This is a trend that I’m seeing increase at a somewhat alarming rate. I’ve experienced it, unfortunately, a bit myself (on the receiving end that is). I like to call this “the washcloth effect.” When you first get out a washcloth you get it all nice and soaked and soapy, you wash your face, and then once you’re done, you toss the washcloth onto the floor, into the hamper, over the tub, or wherever else you put such things. You are done with it. For washcloths, I think that’s probably okay. They understand that that’s their lot in life. But with people it’s a bit of a different story.
If you engage with people who can help you out with things or who can guide you as you’re working your way into a new business or into Social Media, that’s great. But if you lose those people as soon as you feel like you’ve surpassed them or that they’ve taught you all they can, you are leaving a trail of hurt, angry people behind you. People are not washcloths. You can quote me on that.
Social Media Engagement is NOT Remaining Cooly Aloof from the Masses
Let me just say this outright. There are a few people in the online world who think they are the best thing since sliced AND buttered bread. I’ve tried to reach out to these folks in various ways, even supporting a couple of them with purchases, and yet they do not deign to follow me back, respond to my tweets, and when they do tweet, it’s generally about how they are run down with how uncool and/or stupid people are. And that’s cool. If that’s how you feel online interaction should work, I won’t say you’re wrong. I don’t think there is a clear-cut “right vs. wrong” in this space. But on the other hand, I can tell you that I think those folks are kind of…jerks.
The truly great people of the world do not need to bask in the sunny glow of their success. They keep doing what they’re doing, and they use their greatness to reach out to other folks. That *is* Social Media engagement. That other stuff…I don’t know what it is!
Social Media Engagement is NOT Talking in Promo Speak
I think a lot of people end up over-promoting because they forget that self-promotion is still promotion. When we think of promoting things online, I think we veer towards thinking of promotion as “the hard sell.” But promotion is in fact promotion. That means that if I ask you how the weather is in your neck of the woods and you reply with “I just wrote a blog post about how weather affects bloggers,” you are promoting yourself at a time that I might not view as particularly sensible. Yes, driving traffic to your blog posts is important, and I have no problem with such things (of course). But it is not engaging when you do that, especially when you do it 80% of the time.
Social Media Engagement is NOT Being the Biggest Genius Ever
A friend of mine was recently lamenting how a lot of Twitter chats aren’t that fun anymore. The moderator asks a question, people respond to the question, and everyone responds in a way that makes it clear they are simply trying to outshine everyone else. At that point, can we really call it a chat? It sounds more like an ego battle royale.
There are ways to speak with knowledge about something while also engaging. For example, use some of those 140 characters to say something like, “Like xxx said, blah blah blah.” Give credit to other folks. Show you’re listening to them, not just booming out your own thoughts. We can all do that plenty in front of our mirrors (ehem, if we really want to).
So those are my thoughts on what social media engagement is *not*. What would you add to this list? What other types of interaction can be mistaken for engagement when they really are not?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This is post #68 in The Engagement Series! If you’re worried about missing a post, please feel free to hit the subscribe button. Thank you!
Image by Tobias Toft. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/tobiastoft