You are not alone … Engage!
I just read the book Engage!, by Brian Solis. It is packed with useful strategies, tips, and tools for navigating in “social mediaville”. The consumer evolution in the new “democratized information economy” where customers can speak as loudly as marketers has Solis repeatedly saying, “Engage or die!” Although a tad dramatic, he has a point. The good old days of broadcasting one-way messages are history. Engage! addresses this issue and serves as a guide for “unmarketing”, the new concept of unlearning the old marketing model.
In order to thrive in social media circles, Solis’ argues that businesses need to build relationships. According to him, “Content is the new democracy and we, the people, are ensuring that our voices are heard.” With all of these voices spewing in all different directions, how can your business and my client survive? Solis says not to jump in. Whether you have jumped in or not, join me as we learn how to do it right by unmarketing.
It’s better late than never. So, whether you are on the shoreline, or knee-deep into the social media scene, Solis suggests that you strategize by employing the 5 W’s + H + E. The author makes a strong argument for delving deeper into Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, and to what Extent. Once you have reached Extent, you will have found your active audience (your influencers). At this point, you will have a better idea of where your influencers connect with others and how they find and share information.
Once you know more about your audience, then it is time to reach out with finesse via the mix of social media platforms your research dictates. But remember, “unmarketers” do not blast their audience with messages. If businesses and brands want to build trust, loyalty, and authority – they need to get real. If you have done your research you will talk like you know them. You will engage with them. And, in doing so, you will build natural bridges that will lead to authentic relationships.
For starters, I am a little conflicted about the book. At times, I felt that the prose that Solis chose sounded more like a cheerleader than an expert, especially at the beginning. I also felt that he contradicted himself at times. That said, his catchy one-liners continue to stay with and remind me of how he blended social theory and trendy technology topics into relevant material for people like me to use.
Secondly, I was intrigued that Solis was a passionate advocate for podcasts. In contrast, the authors of Groundswell classified podcasts as “rare”. I tend to agree with Solis, I listen to podcasts on my iPod when I run. Instead of hearing the same music over and over, I prefer listening to podcasts, such as, TEDTalks, On the Media, Both Sides Now, or Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Further, podcasts are easy and inexpensive to make. Click on the photo below to hear one I made for a class several years ago.
Synthesize Groundswell and Engage!
The two books share several common themes, they both encourage marketers to listen and learn from conversations taking place in social media about companies and brands. Another theme discussed in both books is the evolution of the two-way conversation between audiences and businesses. Solis said, “Monologue has given way to dialogue.” However, he takes it a step further and warns to steer clear of pointless, idle chatter. Therefore, the point isn’t to make conversation, but engage with customers through genuine interaction.
Further, both books encourage businesses to create a blog, institute a blog editor, utilize outside experts as guest bloggers, and interact with people who post comments. I found it interesting that the Groundswell authors used the term Solis made popular when they warned that to start a blog you must “want to engage in dialogue with your customers.” And, on the flip side, Solis uses the groundswell by encouraging people to link to other blogs/websites in hopes of reciprocity. Solis also discusses using real people to blog/share their stories like Ford did with “Your Stories”. In Ford’s “Your Ideas” blog, they encourage customers to “read the idea, vote and comment”. Ford’s years of relationship building have certainly paid off, just look at these examples below by Ford customers.
Apply Engage! to my client
I appreciate a point that Solis made and plan to share it with my client. He said that people are on Facebook to chat with family and friends not to read the latest pitches and messages from companies and brands. I know that I like, share, and comment on items that matter to me. So, my client must listen to what is important to their audience in order to engage in meaningful discussions.
In my last blog post, I said my client should “take the plunge and immerse themselves” in the groundswell. So, I chuckled when I read Solis’ advice in chapter two, “Do not jump in to social media” without understanding the five Ws + H + E. I agree with Solis and plan to discuss these seven valuable points with my client before I create their social media plan.
In closing, I would like to highlight a few quick takeaways from Engage! that I plan to propose to my client: