Please note this post was written in January of 2011 –
The difference between Engage and Connect is in “how” and, perhaps now “where” you RESPOND…
It is true, Coca-Cola and Starbucks are perfect examples of how to create sustainable connections via social media. Coca-Cola often responds to comments and often highlights original content posted by fans. They have adopted a very innovative mindset that entrusts the Coca-Cola brand in the hands of people who love them.
People have been receptive to brand interaction via Facebook. We have identified and shared many examples were a brand’s recognition of a comment or photo is welcome, and often a form of reward. Within these examples a natural dialogue has taken place and people have been the originator of the interaction. Even when a brand “@s” the fan and the brand’s comment appears on their personal page, fans still have a sense of having had an authentic dialogue. This type of response forms a very emotional and strong connection.
Even though fans have created the original instance of contact, simply the act of “Like” and “check-in” may not always be perceived as wanting to say hello. When brands take it upon themselves to say hello back, that is one thing, but using this hello to promote the brand may seem somewhat intrusive. Hint- consider “my” perspective with an equal value to reach.
No “return for my investment of attention” in the right-hand column…
The word “Sponsored” may be the problem…The new Facebook sponsored stories seem to put “control” in the hands of the brand. When people take the initiative to share feelings or experiences about a brand (center page), it is on their terms. When a brand creates sponsored content (right page) from these interactions, it may create a manipulated occurrence and people are left saying…hey what’s in this for me? Facebook sponsored stories can still be very successful, but brands are challenged to nurture these connections…not just benefit from them.
If you are already worried about being engaged, it is important to also consider your current levels and future risk of connectedness.
MORE: Alterian asks “How Engaged Is Your Brand?”