The notion that we can increase engagement through an increased use of social media is more popular than ever. The Digital Britain campaign aims to get 60% of the 12.5 million who are not currently online connected and engaged by 2014 using a strong element of social media. The 2010 UK general election saw many strategies by politicians to try to engage with the public online. Likewise public service news organisations plead with audiences to ‘email in the news that matters to you’ and text, tweet and phone in your views so the broadcasters can prove they are engaging with the public.
Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent contribution to the New Yorker, caused a stir by arguing that while virtual social engagement may be right for some communication, it does not promote passionate engagement that causes individuals to make commitments that result in social change. Better technology does not make it easier to motivate or convince or engage.
Gladwell does have a point. For example, much was made of Obama’s presidential election campaign and its use of social media. However nearly two years on, with Obama struggling to keep a majority in the Senate, we can see that social media alone cannot foster the engagement so desired by politicians and government advisers.
Moving forward we should be clear what social media can and cannot do. Social media is just one tool in the box but as our survey shows it is probably one of the most important tools. Nearly 50% of respondents said that the development of social networks had resulted in tangible improvements to their organisation and because of this 58% plan to invest more in social media over the next year.
While social media may not be the best way to tackle political disengagement and disenchantment, it can help brands understand how to keep their customers engaged and satisfied. And as we all know engaged and loyal customers mean higher value sales and ultimately more profits.
Register to download cScape’s 5th Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey here