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Engagement is not a Like or a Follow

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

A handshake is nothing but a handshake. It can be about meeting for the first time, it can about seeing someone again, and it can mean that we are in agreement. At the end of the day, it’s what’s “behind” the action that defines the action. The same holds true for the word engagement.

At some point over the past few years social media has caused us to redefine the term “engagement” to mean something more than what it really means. Or is it less? We actually have “dumbed” down the term engagement.   For some, and it may be brands that are more guilty of this than others, engagement  is viewed as garnering a “Like” or a “Follow”.  It’s not conversations, it’s not discussions, nor is it customer centric inquiries. Some brands are collecting Likes and Followers at rapid rates and then are telling everyone who will listen, that they are engaged with X amount of customers on social networks.

Uhhhh. No. You’re treating and collecting people like they are baseball cards. When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a baseball card?

Just  as social media has redefined what a “friend” is, so is it that “fan”, “like”, and “follower” mean something completely different than it did 10 years ago. We can now add “engagement” to that list. Quit treating the accumulation of fans, likes and followers like it’s an arms race and assuming that you are engaged with these people. From now on you must apply a new rule. You’re not engaged with that person on a social network until you have had 3 conversations or interactions with them that are longer than one word sound bites.

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7 Responses to “Engagement is not a Like or a Follow”


  1. 1 Tim Rohe June 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I agree. I like to think that the path to good engagement is good content. Photos and videos are some of the most engaging content online. I’m excited to see how advances in technology will continue making it easier to create and share multimedia. We have already seen what the smartphone boom has done for multimedia sharing and engagement. I’m sure there is more to come.

  2. 2 John Bell June 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I actually think most sophisticated brands (moving from experimentation to operational-izing social) knwo that Likes are a simple gesture and don’t represent meaningful “engagement” – no matter how you define it. I have a client in Dublin who wont even look at item Likes as a metric as he believes it not indicative of anything.

    “Engaged fans” matters more than just fans. Good post.

  3. 3 Cindi / Chiropractic Marketing June 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    On the flip side…
    I find it distressing that when trying to “engage” “connect” “converse” with the fans on any fan page, only a few really talk back. Questions are ask, thoughts are exposed, opinions are shared, but only a few really respond. Most of the time it’s the same 20% of the fan base that actually respond. Then there is the “like” for communicating to the person who actually writes a comment, that someone was there…a ghost “like” presence if you get my point. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to give a comment a thumbs up “like” but leave a thought, opposing view….anything to get the party started.

  4. 4 Mark Saxby June 30, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Love the line about the arms race. I’ll definitely be using that in the future!

  5. 5 marc meyer June 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    @Cindi, I think you’re on to something. We do all the right things and yet we can’t people to budge. Maybe the percentage of lurkers is higher than Forrester thought?

  6. 6 marc meyer June 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    @John I would like to think you’re right but have encountered some that become enamored by numbers rather quickly. Smart client you have in Dublin.

  7. 7 Ann July 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Yes they bring back memories


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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