I just finished “Engage!” by Brian Solis, one of the gurus of Social Media. I should say first of all that the title is very appropriate. If there is one attribute of social media work that stands apart is the need to engage : your internal partners, your stakeholders, your customers, the trendsetters and most of all, your own “comfort zone”. There is no way to get around this. Highly sophisticated monitoring software can help only with pointing out your targets and sometimes, some of the qualitative characteristics of the conversations surrounding your subject. But what Solis points out very vividly is that right now there is no way you can get around humanizing the communication process. Automated replies are suicidal in this communicational environment.
Reading this book I also had the revelation of WHY is social media marketing campaigning such an efficient communication tool. Simply because it allows the best possible targeting and segmentation. The digital track of every conversation or input on a subject can be analyzed statistically and the eventual marketing intervention can be focused literally to the individuals judged/identified statistically to be the most appropriate influencers and trendsetters. And once you identify a limited number of individuals you CAN send out humanized “signals” and ENGAGE in CONVERSATIONS. You can develop strategies and the Social Objects as Brian Solis defines the communications products of Social Media to influence the influencers!! As long as you are serious about engaging them. What a distance from your classic communications approach in which you managed at most to make an audience segmentation of thousands and the message was by default a general, impersonal one and measuring the feed back was something that happened, if you were really professional and had the resources, usually at the end of the campaign when you had no more time and resources for corrective interventions….
Brian also has a very profound sociological approach, with a very interesting networking theory and details the social stratification and social order of the networks. But it is also the book of a practitioner, not a theoretical essay. I was especially impressed by his insistence that all responsible parties in an organization should be on board and again, ENGAGED, when discussing the social media campaign of a brand. Probably, like many in PR, he has had production managers and such like that believe that if they don’t hear criticism, it doesn’t exist !
A very useful book as an eye opener for those, like me that thought they knew something about social media but were not exactly sure…