Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Four Stages of Social Media Engagement

These days, every business has some sort of social media presence - whether they know it or not. Customers and potential consumers want to engage with the brands they are interested in online, and they will often do so regardless of whether or not that brand is willing or able to engage with them. It's in a company's best interest, therefore, to determine which social stage they are at and to become more engaging. Here's what I see as the four D's, or stages, of social media engagement (and no, I know you're thinking it, but they're not the same as the five D's of Dodgeball):
Dead    You have zero social media presence - that you know of. The problem is, you probably have several listings set up by social media users, usually on location-based platforms like Yelp or Foursquare. You probably have some old Places listings or Community Pages on Facebook, or both, and maybe even an impersonator or two on Twitter. The process of cleaning up and taking control of these listings, once you realize they're out there, is tedious and sometimes requires copyright infringement complaints and legal involvement.
Dormant    You, or more likely some intern you had two years ago, set up some social media accounts for you a few years ago, but nobody has posted anything since. Most of your Twitter followers are probably robots, and your Facebook wall is full of spam. You definitely don't have a cover photo on Facebook. You might not have a way to contact your old intern to get login information for these accounts, or to obtain administrative access, so you might have to submit a request to the social networks to force a claim. 
Dabbling    You post maybe once a month and respond to old comments, mentions and other interactions on that schedule as well. When you heard about the Timeline update on Facebook, you posted a cover photo, but you haven't posted since then (has it really been almost a month already?) Your fans are probably frustrated with your slow response rate, and your EdgeRank (the algorithm measure that Facebook uses to determine whether users see your updates or not) is almost nonexistent.
Dynamic    Congratulations! You're active on social media - posting on a regular schedule, keeping your accounts looking sharp and responding to user interactions quickly. You've probably even gone in and filled out your Facebook Timeline with significant milestones. As a result of your consistent approach to posting and community management, users are excited to interact with you and your EdgeRank is excellent.
Wherever you are on this spectrum, the important thing is to recognize it and work towards more dynamic engagement. If you don't have the time, energy or know-how to do so, it's in the best interest of your business to find someone who does. So which social stage describes your business? Is there another step or two you would add? Please let me know in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you there, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Next Up: A how-to for claiming Places listing, Community Pages and other Facebook Page duplicates.