Taking the four basic building blocks together consumption, curation, creation, and Collaboration, one possible model (there are many) for driving engagement emerges. Engagement can be tapped for marketing purposes by anchoring it within the context of the basic social structures communities, social applications, and similar and then connecting these back to your brand, product, or service. In this section, social applications are the focus.
The basic process of engagement begins with content consumption and builds up to collaboration between participants in the creative process. This is the kind of activity that binds community members together.
Simply put, and critical to understanding how to build an effective social presence, is recognizing that most brands, products, or services will not support a “community” by themselves. Why not? Think about the products that you use, the organizations you support, and the real-world community around you. What among them constitute the things you think about daily, regularly, that you obsess over?
These and only these are the things that are candidates for long-lived, organically developed “communities.”
Despite a lot of time and effort spent to the contrary, most brands, products, and services do not command sufficient daily mindshare to sustain a community of their own. After that, most people literally run out of bandwidth, the combination of an individual’s time, and attention. There are only so many social organizations one person can effectively participate in. Online it’s no different: How many social communities can you really belong to? More importantly, how many will you actively participate in? For most, the answer is surprisingly similar to the capacity for participation in real life.
Against that, ask yourself: “How likely are you to join a deodorant, toothpaste, or laundry soap community?” Yet, more than a few CPG/FMCG brand managers have undertaken to build just these types of communities. Make no mistake: As long as the advertising spending is happening, people join, take advantage of offers, and maybe even engage in light social activities.
This is not to knock “awareness” communities or the application of social media channels in awareness plays: These communities may well be important parts of overall marketing programs and often do deliver on some of the surface promises of the Social Web. Content consumption certainly happens, and to an extent curation people voting or ranking what they see or do in these communities may also be happening. But above that, in the more important behaviors of content creation and collaboration, activity generally starts to drop off.