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Engagement keeps companies way above water

Note:  This post is courtesy of our guest contributor Sally Falkow, Social Media Strategist at Expansion Plus.

There were many sessions at the recent PRSA conference in San Diego that focused on the need for companies to get involved in social media. Discussions involved the need to move beyond the testing and experimenting phase and put together a social media strategy [1], the practice of new media relations and how to find the right influencers, the need to treat social media as an ongoing commitment instead of a campaign, and why measurement is so important.

I led a discussion (sponsored by Marketwire [2]) and we took a somewhat different approach.

The session was based on data from two research studies that identified engagement as a core factor for success today: The CMO Council’s Marketing Outlook 2009 and the Wetpaint/Altimeter Group’s ENGAGEMENTdb. [3]

The ENGAGEMENTdb report clearly shows that the companies that were most engaged with their communities were also the ones that weathered the economic storm best.  There is a definite tie between engagement and the bottom line.

What is engagement?  The Wetpaint/Altimeter study defines it as:

“Resembling any in-person exchange, socializing requires more than just being there; you have to interact with others, instigate discussions, and respond during conversations. Our study implies value in social engagement on top of social presence; it pays to actively and continually participate and invest in your networks.”

So, it’s not good enough to just have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or a YouTube channel.  You have to move to the next level and to actively participate in the online discussions.

Our session covered three examples from the study – Starbucks, SAP, and Dell.

This kind of success isn’t limited only to large corporations; our PRSA panel showcased two smaller California-based companies that have had stellar results from deep engagement with their customers.

You can read additional posts on my blog [7], by following me [8] on Twitter, and by visiting my website at  http://www.expansionplus.com [9].  For the full PRSA presentation and companion white paper, send an email to Monica Nakamine [10] at Marketwire.

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