Social Madness is Cured Through Engagement

It is now almost commonplace, getting bombarded by people asking for your “vote”.  I am not talking about candidates running for public office.  This is the barrage of organizations that are seeking you to vote for their businesses as a part of a social media contest.

Some of the successful “contests” include the Pepsi Refresh Challenge and Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good campaigns; these programs enable organizations to tell their story, while competing for a prize, through public votes, that will benefit its mission.  The latest craze is Mission: Small Business sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial.

Organizations enter into these online beauty pageants for different reasons (by means of disclosure my firm has helped clients to succeed in these games).  They are not all bad, but, without proper social media planning, the contests promote faceless metrics in lieu of healthy engagement.

Like advertising, these contests are all about the “push,” but with a twist of extortion. If your organizations “ask” is the only outreach you’ve done in recent weeks (months or years), the message received by your friends sounds like this “You ‘liked’ us, now it is time to extract our pound of flesh.”

Where is the engagement?

Here are five quick questions to ask yourself or the organization before diving into the pool of social madness:

  • Are we already socially engaged with our customer base?
  • Is the benefit of the contest so great that it supersedes our relationship we have with our friends and followers?
  • Will this build healthy awareness for the organization?
  • Will this increase support of our organization’s mission in the form of sales, attendance or volunteers?
  • Does the contest complement our social media plan?

If you answer yes to these questions, knock yourself out.  If a “no” slips in once, focus your time, efforts and clout on other efforts, like building foundational relationships and meaningful engagements.

Social media efforts should be focused on people, not on marking a bedpost with socialmedia accomplishments.

Tom Garrity is the president of The Garrity Group Public Relations, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and a member of the PR Consultants Group.

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