Engagement Is Worthless if it’s Just About Conversation
Like most PR agencies, we send monthly activity reports to our clients that detail all the tasks we’ve performed during that time period. Part of those recaps include conversations and leads we’ve generated in the effort to garner media coverage. They’ll read those leads with interest, and hope we can make them come to fruition, but what they really care about are the results. Did we talk to a reporter at Shape magazine, or was their product featured? Yes, we did send samples to Good Morning America, but were they included in the segment? We’d never file conversations under the “results” section. Our clients wouldn’t buy that.
Over the past three months I’ve had about 20 to 30 new business calls. I’ve created so many PR proposals my PowerPoint is about ready to charge me a usage fee. But, for my business, most of the conversations that don’t turn into new business won’t mean much. Unless those conversations turn into clients or referrals, they didn’t do much to drive my business, did they? Those conversations I had were not results.
If the marketers were focused on the definition, not the word, they would actually engage. By having conversations with their customers. By asking about them, not tooting their own horn.
I’m in agreement with Jason that a lot of the dialogue brands have with consumers via social media isn’t doing much to encourage interaction, but I believe that engagement, if you define it as conversation, is not a result. I know Jason isn’t afraid to talk about how social media should drive business, and he also said in his comments that he didn’t intend to define engagement as conversation (I interpreted that from his comment above). I obviously took some liberties in what I took from the post, and I hope he goes a little further in a future post to define “engagement,” if he truly believes it should be a result. But I think it’s critical to note that I also don’t have any clients who’d be satisfied with dialogue as our campaign metric. They want to see subscriptions, referrals, reviews, sales etc… You know, engagement.
We recently created a campaign for a client that, in addition to increasing the community by six fold and driving a significant number of shares, votes and entries, we were able to see an increase in website traffic by 39 percent and an increase in online orders by 14 percent in just one week. Those are compelling results, and hopefully we’ll be able to demonstrate long-term impact.
I see a lot of marketers; including PR people, talk about conversation as the end all. I’m not disputing its importance in building brand loyalty, awareness and ambassadorship. But I’d caution against calling it a result, or calling it the only form of engagement. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
photo credit: prawnpie