By Dr. Todd Bacile | August 21, 2013
Social Media Engagement
A benefit that social media has over mass media is the ability to hypertarget individual consumers. While much is made of hypertargeting advertisements, another non-invasive communication strategy is for a brand to engage with consumers in real-time, as needed by an individual person. Personalized content relevant to a segment of one person.
For marketers to successfully engage consumers via social channels in this manner, a brand must provide context-specific relevant information, when and where a consumer needs it. Jay Baer refers to such highly useful content with his conceptualization of Youtility. To provide useful information in this manner takes more than hypertargeting advertisements: it requires a firm to provide helpful information a consumer would like to see at a particular moment.
For a firm to truly achieve relevance, authenticity, helpfulness, and information availability when needed by a consumer requires real-time engagement. A simple operationalized example happened to me in a Tweet chat last week. Here is a recap of how one firm successfully engaged consumers in real-time.
Qualtrics: Real-time Engagement
Among the ways I use Twitter is to participate in Tweet chats and help others by answering questions. Tweet chats are easily facilitated using a hashtag on Twitter. One chat I participate in is the #AskAngel tweet chat every Tuesday from 2:00-3:00 pm EST hosted by @afmarcom. The thing I love about this chat is the range of questions people ask, along with the helpful people who choose to answer. Below is a snippet of last week’s #AskAngel chat, where Holly posed a question for the group:
The screenshots from the #AskAngel Tweet chat depict an organic (i.e. non-paid) real-time conversation about a brand as discussed by consumers. The conversation continues with retweets, replies, and favorites as the conversation unfolds:
Brands understand that mining social conversations can produce useful marketing information. However, Qualtrics took this one step further by joining in the conversation in real-time as it was unfolding.
The customer service people manning the Qualtrics Twitter handle tactfully jumped into the conversation in real-time. The above conversation achieves several things for Qualtrics. First, the brand is exposed to in-depth qualitative data about what consumers like about its product. Second, consumer-endorsed positive word-of-mouth is exchanged among several people; and retweeted or shared to other social networks and followers. Third, Qualtrics provides a useful resource (a link to their online Qualtrics University) when another curious consumer asks for more information. This was most likely totally unexpected by the Tweet chat participants!
There is a certain “Wow” factor associated with such an exchange. It shows the brand is listening, cares about helping consumers, and does not use a sales pitch in an effort to close a sale. It is real-time social media engagement strategies such as the one pulled off by Qualtrics that enables brands to begin to build relationships with consumers.
Dr. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans and holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Have a question or comment? Post it here and you will receive a response.