As people become more social media literate, or begin to develop advanced expectations from their social media platforms, the expectations of engagement (user-to-user, business-to-user, business-to-business, user-to-business*) will start to become more complex. Engagement tactics of the past, like tacking “what do you think?” on the end of a post, will start to seem shallow, half-hearted and trite.
I feel like this has already started to happen. Several of my favorite daily blogs use these engagement techniques often, which is not to say that the writers are bad or bad social media practitioners. Stock engagement questions have been failing to illicit the in-depth responses and conversations that users used to enjoy previously.
Social Robots are a problem…
Why? I think as more businesses/brands/etc. try to automate their social media presence – the genuine attempts of encouraging engagement starts to fade. Asking “what do you think?” or “did we get it right?” at the end of a blog post is akin to “blog punctuation”. “This is the end of the post”, it says. Entities who have abused the nature of these conversation starters have diluted the practice. One begins to think, “they don’t actually care what I think – they said their piece, and now they’ll start analyzing the metrics.” (!!!) As it stands, when I see that sort of ending on a blog post now, I wonder if I’ll even see a response! It’s easy to become apathetic.
So, how do you circumvent this growing user apathy?
Ask more pointed questions!
Let’s say we have a blog post discussing the pitfalls of caffeine consumption, and you’re waxing scientific on the levels of caffeine in the best-selling soft drinks and you make a point about ease of access to these drinks being a key factor in the perpetuation of employees’ rising blood pressure averages in locations with X number of vending machines.
Instead of ending this with “what do you think?”, ask something like “What is the situation like in your work place? Do you have viable and easily accessible beverage alternatives? What is your caffeinated poison of choice (soda, coffee, tea?)”. Now, we have multiple pointed prompts for discussion. A user can choose to discuss all of these questions, or just one, or they may be inspired to go off on a different tangent inspired by one of the questions (“By calling it a poison, you’re projecting your feelings!”).
Money. Mouth. Go!
So, I suppose I should practice what I preach… I would say that most active Google+ users would consider themselves more social media savvy than the average bear (a hasty assumption, no doubt). What sort of user engagement tactics do you use and/or what engagement tactics work on you? Does my own experience with engagement tactics align with yours at all, or am I thinking too hard about the strategy? How do you think a casual social media user sees these “stock engagement tactics”?