Are we killing our customers with too much engagement?

too much engagement

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Facebook is seeing a decline in use. Studies show that users are un-Liking business pages. Consumers are getting savvy and more jaded about businesses use of social media—and they’re responding negatively. The thing is, it’s our own fault. Do we seek too much engagement?

Social media consultants and bloggers have long urged companies to create Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and start a conversation with their customers. So, lots of companies have done just that. The problem is, most customers don’t want a conversation with a company or its representatives.

Sure, there are exceptions. There are customers who are genuinely passionate about a restaurant, a hotel, a clothing line, or shoe company. Those customers are a minority, though.

It may be worth engaging that minority deeply, as brand advocates. But companies aren’t focusing on deeply engaging with the few people who deeply want to engage with them. Most companies either aren’t doing social media, or they are in a race to acquire as many fans and followers as possible and then get likes and comments from as many as possible.

As I noted in my recent post, If You Want to Engage Me, Make Me Look Good, the conversation approach ISN’T customer-centric. It’s the business, the marketer that wants to engage in conversation with the customer. Just as marketers want blog and newsletter subscribers, and want customer email addresses, they want Facebook fans. They want to be able to regularly contact and message leads and customers—even if they do it in a less promotional, more sociable manner.

Customers aren’t beating down the doors of businesses begging them, “engage with me, please!”

Customers want to engage with their friends. They want to engage with content that amuses, teaches, or inspires them. They may want to engage with their friends about said content.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t listen to customers and respond to them. Good companies have been listening to their customers for years, in the ways available at the time. Good companies will continue to monitor, respond, answer questions, address concerns, elicit suggestions, all through social media as well as other means.

It’s the inane and sometimes manipulative attempts to converse and engage people that I’m decrying. With all the competition for our attention, the flood of content and news and status updates, I think consumers increasingly resent attempts to draw their attention with questions, content, contests, and conversations that aren’t valuable, relevant, fun, or interesting. It’s just more noise.

We’ve created a monster, by telling every company that they NEED a Facebook page and Twitter account and that they need to converse and engage. I’m hoping we can slay that monster by taking a truly customer-centric approach.  I hope we begin to tell companies that they need to identify the specific consumers of value to them as a company, and then find a way to be OF SERVICE to those consumers. I hope companies will find ways to serve the customer’s goals online. Find ways to facilitate the conversations those consumers want to be having with their friends. Find ways to entertain and inspire them. Find ways to let consumers take the actions that help them personally or professionally and that enrich their online lives.

So many businesses now are out on the social web expending resources and money trying to get a conversation started on their page and blog. What if they were all spending the same resources and money trying to find valuable ways to serve consumers through their Facebook pages and blogs, ways to help consumers meet their own online goals and enrich their own relationships with one another.  If a company did that for me, I’d be a loyal fan and I’d be visiting their Facebook page more often.

Do you agree?

Neicole Crepeau is a partner in Coherent Interactive, which specializes in web, mobile, and social media design and implementation for small and mid-size businesses. You can read more of her original material at her blog, Coherent Social Media or onTwitter where she is @neicolec.


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