While I talk to various groups about the value of social media, I try to help them think about using social media for their own learning, for collaboration, and for engagement.
Almost always in these discussions, participants think of using these tools to broadcast information. "We can use Twitter to publicize a new blog post." These suggestions are great, and absolutely can be used.
But then, I try to move the conversation to how social media brings many other benefits that we have not been able to capture in typical web pages. One power of social media tools is the ability to engage others.
But, a question that comes to mind for many is "What is online engagement?" First, we need consider the basic definition of engagement.
The “emotional bond” or “attachment” that customers and employees develop with your business during repeated, ongoing positive interactions with your company. This bond goes beyond a single moment in time and is instead, defined by the enduring behaviors, attitudes and heart of your employees and customers.
When we engaging others, we are not pushing content (products, services, advertisements), but rather we are conversing, asking for opinions, involving others in problem solving, idea and content development. Engagement means we are engaged and involved, and others are engaged and involved.
When broadcasting (one to many), we are speaking to or lecturing to audiences, students, clients, customers, or potential customers. When we are engaged, then we become community or group members (formal and informal groups). Also, customers, clients, and students are community or group members. We converse with people who share our interests and with people we enjoy listening and talking to.
Methods that indicate that our organization is engaged online.
- We listen to others, even to those who believe differently.
- Authentic communications that describe events, opinions, and information in ways that others know and can identify with the individuals within our organization, as well as our organization as a whole.
- Transparent, upfront and open content, processes, ideas and opinions that help others understand our organization and that we leave no doubt about our intentions, purpose, and values.
- Practices that indicate that knowledge is built and created by many and our organization, nor any individual, is the only expert.
- Fast and responsive communications that indicate we are listening and value the importance of at-the-moment thoughts, problems, discussions, and issues.
- Flexible and agile processes and reactions that indicate our organization is designed to meet every changing needs of others.
- Real empathy for community members where we develop an understanding of others and their needs.
- Ongoing demonstrations that indicate we believe in the importance of building relationships with others outside of our organization.
- Immersing ourselves in environments where others are.