I decided to step out of my usual self and decided to look at social media from the other side, the consumer’s point of view.  Not that I’m not a consumer myself, but I wanted to get a more objective view.  I wanted to get a better read on how it feels to be truly engaged by a company.  To be honest, I was drawing a blank.  Other than companies that typically do business online, I couldn’t think of one company that is trying to engage me via social media.  Now I’m thinking of restaurants, retail stores, service-oriented companies, those types of businesses.  Local businesses that can benefit by using social media tools to engage local customers.  None.

Now on the flip side, I get loads of folks trying to engage me who are in the social media industry.  Whether it’s an SEM/SEO company, bloggers, marketing companies, that sort of thing.  But then again, this is what they do, so it makes sense.  But none of the other sectors appear to be equally represented.  I do see ads for these other sectors on Google, Facebook, Groupon, and so on, but that’s all they are.  They’re just ads.  No engagement whatsoever.  Maybe it’s still too early for them, too complicated, or too much of an unknown?  I doubt it.  These business must be hiding under a rock to not realize the potential social media has to offer.

There are instances where certain sectors have a high level of engagement.  The food truck industry is a good example.  There are also a handful of other sectors that have benefited from using social media to engage their client base.  But I notice that these are more the exceptions, for now.

These are some things that would engage me as a customer:

  • Questions – Light, open-ended, rhetorical.  No polls.  Just to get me thinking and nothing else.
  • Ideas – Little ideas that are relevant to me (and in areas where the company is an expert) and would make my life easier.
  • Invites – Special events, tastings, naming a new dish, etc.  Give me an opportunity to have a little involvement somehow.
  • Feedback – Ask for feedback, but only after all of the above are done.  Reserve this for the very last.

What engages you might differ from my list above, but the main idea is to engage the customer regularly using little bursts of relevant communication and involvement.  Ironically, it seems as if the goal of engaging customers is temporarily hampered by the proliferation of technology.  I’m looking forward to seeing more local businesses engage their customers via social media.

It’s normal to get enamored with all the bells and whistles of the newest tech gadget or app, but when the dust settles, it’s still about building and maintaining customer relations.  Oftentimes that endgame gets lost in all the noise.

How are you best engaged?