Developing a Social Network Engagement Strategy: Step 1

Hi all! I figured it was about time I emerged from my client work and share some lessons learned in the area of social network engagement, so I will attempt to chunk it up into sections…greek_engagement_rings.jpg

I’d first like to start off by saying that for many marketers the concept of engagement within social networks is limited to starting a Facebook group or developing a profile page. I’m assuming this is due in part to instant gratification (after all, a quick group and profile can be developed in less than an hour), and in part to a misunderstanding of social networks themselves.

So, I’ll start with the first step to developing a social network engagement strategy: and that is a social network analysis. This should be tailored for each client, because it provides research and rationale that then determines the strategy for engagement. This analysis should answer the following main questions:

1) What networks are my target audiences interacting within?

2) What is the level of interaction my target audience is having within these networks?

3) What conversations already exist about our company? Within which networks?

4) What type of interactions do users have within each network?

5) What are other brands doing?

While these are just 5 of the many types of questions that should be answered in an engagement analysis, they are perhaps the most important ones because they rule out a cookie-cutter approach to social network engagement and will force you to think more strategic about the appropriate networks to choose for engagement.

For instance, for one client with a target audience of women, this type of analysis found a valuable, and very engaged audience within lesser-known niche networks. Even more interesting, was that our analysis revealed the interaction of our target audience within these networks was stronger than the interaction of our target audience within Facebook and MySpace; while the majority of this audience weren’t quite content creators in the blogosphere, they were within these networks by frequently writing articles, commenting in groups regularly, publishing polls, and even microblogging on a daily basis.

In my opinion, I would argue that this engagement strategy determines the success of your involvement within social networks by helping understand and determine the particular networks of the most value to your target audience and your company.

If you’ve conducted this type of research, what have you found? Were you surprised at the value of particular niche networks, or overwhelmed by the amount of networks to research? Feel free to share your thoughts , we can certainly learn from all of our experiences.

Ignite Social Media