Keeping social media social

29 January 2016

An Interactive Marketing Approach

For many years the media mantra has been “to inform and entertain.” With the proliferation of social media, marketing efforts must focus on a new aspect of media behavior. The audience is no longer content to simply consume information and entertainment. The modern social media audience wants to engage with the content producer and with each other.

Consumer engagement is a difficult beast to ride and one that’s nearly impossible to tame. Every consumer niche market engages in a different way. No single solution can provide the right formula for creating social media engagement. Some attention to the basics of social behavior will allow marketers to focus their efforts on creating media content that will yield desired results.

Know What It Means to Be Social

Social media platforms allow consumers of common content to engage with each other or the content producer. Most media distribution platforms include a space for viewer comments, allowing visitors a limited form of interaction. Simply tacking a comment form onto content does not make it social.

Comment strings go through the same quality content evaluation as other postings. They get parsed for keywords, evaluated for length, and checked for semantic relevance. Comment trees also include a running timestamp associated with each response, allowing search engines and consumers to keep track of the conversation by date. This running give-and-take dialog is what forms the heart of truly social media.

Making Media Social

Every niche market has differing expectations, but the core of every interaction is a running dialog. The particular market niche will determine the nature of the dialog and extent of interaction. Educational videos promote question and answer responses. Forum postings stimulate further conversational posts. Instant messaging services provide feedback in real-time. Each media type caters to a different audience and provokes a different response.

Even purely passive forms of media consumption can still include a social element. Social media platforms allow content producers to separate the consumption of content from the interaction that takes place around that content. This separation results in a twin stream of consumer interaction sourced from a single media package that does not necessarily promote social behavior on its own.

One thing links every social media platform. Every single one of them provides the capability for dialog and asks the consumer to engage. Entertainment and education are wonderful things, but even in the world of faceless computer media, human interaction remains the most essential point of contact.

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