the myths of social engagement: #1

starting this blog seems kinda like merging onto a freeway. one doesn’t just take a sharp left turn and blurt out some sort of doctoral thesis, rather it’s a continuous, gradual process of edging closer and closer to the main flow of traffic, with ideas expanding on ideas, expanding on ideas.

i’ve been tinkering with this draft for a while now, about what i’ve got to say on the way i see the value of social engagement marketing being discussed, which is, like, oh man, just a big monster of a topic that only seems to make the post more and more unwieldy the further i delve into it.

so, i think, rather than waiting until i’ve got the whole thing complete enough to just barrel at a 90-degree angle against oncoming traffic, i’m going to tackle a bit of the onramp–as i see it–at a time.

** curves ahead: **

please be forewarned — i am NOT an online media expert. i do NOT have any kind of technology background, and quite honestly i couldn’t do math to save my life. my perspective comes from almost a decade of producing events and experiences that bring hundreds and now thousdands of people together, and create a platform for interaction on some incredibly visceral levels. large-scale live event creation is sort of like a “control” running parallel to the online experience creation experiment, and there are a myriad ways in which each informs the other.

my perspective also comes from studying PEOPLE and SOCIAL BEHAVIOR, (there’s a reason this blog is called “social creature,” after all). if i was doing what i do in a rural village in africa, it would be called anthropology. in l.a., however, we call it marketing.

so…. with an understanding of THAT basic caveat in mind, here’s an initial attempt at getting on that bull that’s the discussion about “the value of social engagement marketing,” and seeing how long i can stay on and ride it.

myth #1:


guess again.

before it was about pressing Enter, it was about pressing the flesh. before web 2.0 there were tupperware parties, door to door salesmen, and patent medicine shows. all of these involved the same exact elements as what’s currently referred to in such clinical terms as “social engagement marketing,” and its potency as a selling method was never in question. before advertising, in fact, this was the only method there WAS.

but though the internet didn’t invent it, it DID upgrade it. as the tools for generating and enhancing social interaction got way fancier (and also more removed from immediately physical interaction) they seem to have also made us confused. we now look at this whole process as if it’s some alien anomaly we’ve never encountered before, when the truth is that this process has been in existence for AGES. for, in fact, as long as human beings have known how to communicate.

Strong, E.K. (1925). “Theories of Selling”. Journal of Applied Psychology 9: 75-86.

A lot of models are known in order to sell, e.g. the BOSCH-Formula, developed by Peter Hubert for the international sales training for consumer goods.

  • Be inquisitive – ask open questions
  • Offer solutions – talk about the endresult benefits for the customer
  • Stimulate the senses – let the customer test your product
  • Cross your sales – think of all the necessary accessories
  • Hit the closing point – sell when the customer is ready to buy

….ask open questions and offer solutions, stimulate the senses and think of all the necessary accessories. sounds a lot like “social engagement,” wouldn’t you say?

and all of this happening before the invention of media as we know it, let alone the application of social media.

before we go any further in this conversation (and i do hope to make this a conversation) about evaluating the “ROI of social engagement,” we must first take the follwing into account:

  1. the internet does not exist in an easy vaccum.
  2. the online measurement of the effectiveness of social engagement marketing is a PARTIAL measurement of the full social picture.
  3. to measure the remainder of the social picture you will need a shitload of radio transmitters and a good number of soviet psychics. don’t worry, they’re on order, and will probably be a service package offered soon by these guys :

i believe that because the internet did not spawn either the concept or the application of “social engagement marketing” (only the terminology), nor did it eliminate all its prior forms, but rather ENHANCED them, it’s vital to recognize that any measurement of online social engagement will NOT be a measurement of its TOTAL effectiveness.

– – –

thanks to the following folks for their insight, info, and sounding boards for this in one fashion or another:

micki krimmel | jeremiah owyang | jesse shannon | thomas dillmann | sarah kalbeitzer

there’s more to come on this, for sure, but if you’ve got any thoughts on this particular part of the onramp, feel free to use your turn signal in the comments.


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