Why real engagement on social media wins. Every. Time.

Many brands still wonder if social media is worth their time. “Meh. I’ll just automate this to save time. I’ll have my Facebook posts automatically shared to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Friendster, and Myspace!!”

Wrong answer.

There is one vital piece missing in a world of automation. Authentic engagement.

Something special happens when a real life person on the other side of the interwebs engages with a customer. While it may be difficult sometimes to judge the ROI of social media, let me give a real-life case study on engagement done well that just happened the other day.

You may say, what’s the ROI for social media? Well, what’s the ROI of your mother?

I recently found out about a SMS service called GoButler. It’s a really interesting concept, and after trying it for the first time, I tweeted this out:

GoButler is a free text-based service where a real human on the other end of the line operates as your personal virtual assistant. GoDaddy, culturally savvy as they are, is familiar with the service and replied:

Not to be outdone, GoButler responded as well:

That’s funny, GoButler! Oh wait. You were serious?

Since I had already used the service, they had my number on file and I received a text about an hour after I posted my original tweet:

These short interactions, the humor shown by GoDaddy, and the generosity espoused by GoButler, created a special interaction that I will not soon forget.

Lessons Learned

1. Engagement is not optional.

If either brand had simply favorited my tweet (or worse, ignored it), they would have missed an opportunity to build rapport with a potential customer. I already liked what GoButler was doing, but this interaction (and the generosity they’ve shown) has cemented them as a company I want to do business with and enhanced my loyalty to their brand.

GoDaddy on the other hand, is not the service I currently use for domain services. However, I have never had a positive interaction with my current domain service on social, so this may sway me to being a loyal customer after all. If nothing else, they got mutiple retweets (and a blog post) from me. Never underestimate the scope and long-term effects of social engagement.

2. Be culturally aware.

If GoDaddy was not aware of the way GoButler works, they would not have been able to send the well-executed humorous response they did.

Never forget that there are real humans on the other end of your marketing campaigns. Real humans with real interests who are paying attention to what is happening in culture.

3. Be willing to add value.

GoButler gave away pizzas and cokes to GoDaddy and me, but that does not mean you need to do the same for every social interaction. In fact, don’t expect a free pizza if you hit them up on Twitter (although it’s worth a shot though, right?). This simply illustrates a broader principle: adding value to your followers will always be worth more coupled with great content and great community engagement (click here to tweet).

At the end of the day, this interaction resulted in a win-win-win. All three parties promoted the interaction to their followers (GoDaddy helped promote GoButler to its 200,000+ followers), and there was value created each way.

Moving forward, keep on the lookout for opportunities to engage with you audience, add value to your followers, and build a community around your brand.