Go Like Yourself (Why Social Media Engagement Can Be One Big Circle Jerk)

Let me start off this article with a disclaimer:

I’m not trying to sound like some old bastard who refuses to adapt to the times. Depending on your business objectives, social media can play a role in effective branding, positioning, and marketing.

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, here’s my main point:

Social media engagement can be one big fucking circle jerk.

There. I said it.

Now, maybe I am a bit old fashioned. But last I checked, driving sales was a business’s main objective. And while things like Facebook ads can contribute to this, that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the amount of time, effort, and money that can be wasted by using social media like a 14-year old girl. That may sound funny, but you’d be surprised how many small to mid-sized businesses do just that.

Many companies don’t want to seem “uncool” so they figure they get accounts on all the hip social media platforms. Some business owners hire an outside social media manager to work their magic for them. Or else, they pick up a copy of Social Media Engagement For Dummies and sink their own time into posting, sharing, liking, etc.

But here’s the million-dollar question:

Do you directly link “engagement” efforts to increased revenue?

Where’s The Beef?

Before the pandemic age, I used to talk to the owner of a local coffee shop about marketing. He was telling me that at least once a week, some millennial “social media manager” was coming in to talk to him. One day a kid beat him over the fucking head with that word, ENGAGEMENT.

“You need to engage more with your customers.”

“You need to facilitate more engagement to build your brand.”

So the coffee shop owner figured, what the hell? Let’s give it a whirl.

At first, he was impressed by how fancy his new social media pages looked.{you know, snazzy banners and all that.) He was amazed at how many damn hashtags the kid was able to stuff at the end of a post. And – lo and behold – he started seeing a ton of more likes and comments on posts.

It was raining engagement all over the place!

But almost like he knew what I was about to ask next, he followed this up with:

None of it offset what I was paying him every month, so I ended it.

The coffee shop owner wasn’t able to determine any kind of a revenue boost as a result of his new social engagement wizardry. Of course, this is just one small example. But the problem remains—exactly how do you calculate ROI when it comes to social media engagement? 

If you and your partner create some super-cute video with puppies and everything, and it gets 3,254 likes and 138 shares, that might feel great…

…until you realize that it translates into jack shit in terms of sales.

I’ll Like Yours If You Like Mine

Of course, an “engagement strategy” is about more than just getting your own jollies from all the comments and likes on your own stuff. You’re supposed to engage back.

“Thank you so much for your kind words! We’re really glad you decided to try our product!”

Or maybe you go out and slurp someone on Twitter…

“Omg this is so hilarious!”

Maybe they “follow” you back and join your circle jerk. Maybe they don’t.

I could go on but you get the point about social media engagement. The problem is, most businesses will find NO discernable impact that comes from it. Social media for some businesses can too easily turn into an orgy of likes, comments, love emojis, and whatever else. But is anyone buying? Is it fostering conversions? 

Are You Looking Desperate On Social Media?

“Please like this video, comment in the comments section below, and make sure you subscribe to my channel!”

How many times have you heard a YouTuber end their video like that?

Can you tell me that it doesn’t come across as a bit desperate?

If this is what you would consider “establishing your brand” through social media, I’m not sure if it’s the brand you really want. This is where the whole social media engagement thing can actually work against you. If you’re replying to a comment two minutes after someone posts it, you seem borderline fucking crazy.

Now let’s consider a company that does that bare minimum with social media and still does pretty well for themselves.

If you go to their website, you won’t see “Follow us on social!” with all of the customer platform icons.

If you look at their social media, you won’t see ANY damn engagement from the company itself. They let their fans and customers have at it.

Yet despite not engaging more, they seem to hang in ok.

The company I’m referring to is Apple.

Now, you’d think they would have a whole division of creative people getting nuts on social media engagement. Instead, their Facebook page basically consists of a profile image change once a week. Their Instagram is just pictures that customers take with their iPhone cameras.

Apple isn’t joining in any circle jerks.

Sure, Apple’s brand is to the point where they don’t need to engage. But smaller businesses can certainly follow in their footsteps.

Keep It Simple

Again, it’s not so much social media that I’m bashing here. It’s the whole obsession with engagement. Probably the best thing your Facebook page can do to boost your brand is having a bunch of great reviews. People respond way better to social proof than they do to the meme you spent an hour making. But getting great testimonials has nothing to do with how much you’re engaging anybody. No one’s going to come to leave you a 5-star review because you liked and commented on their fucking cat video. It’s the result of offering a great product and/or service to the right audience.

If you have a special promotion or holiday sale coming up, by all means, post it to your social accounts. Just don’t hang out there for the next 2 hours jerking off anyone who leaves you a comment. Unless…you know…that’s your thing. Just don’t expect it to have any beneficial effect on your bottom line.

If you’re looking for measurable data on marketing campaigns, social media engagement is not a strategy. Don’t forget: social media platforms are NOT free.

If you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product.

Source: Unknown

And, more importantly, your time is a finite resource, and trying to go viral or schmooze people on social media can eat up more of it than you might think…

…Unless you’d like to hire a social media engagement guru…

Then I’ll see if I can find the 20-year old with the skinny jeans from the coffee shop I mentioned above.

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