Toolkit

Guest Blogger: Guy Kawasaki’s Four Levels of Social Media Engagement

By on Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Thanks to Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince for this photo
According to Guy Kawasaki, “There is no right or wrong way to use Facebook and Twitter.” But those organizations that have tapped the power of social media to interact with new and existing supporters and customers understand that success is based on authenticity and engagement.
The author, thought leader and former Apple chief evangelist shared his approach to social media in a workshop for small business owners during his recent promotional tour for his new book, “Enchantment”.
Kawasaki believes that social media offers four levels of engagement with target audiences, and the goal of any organization – from a global corporation to a mom and pop shop, and from a multinational philanthropic organization to a grass roots awareness campaign – is to move from passive awareness to active engagement.
ENGAGEThe first level, Engage, is where most social media beginners tend to plateau. In the Engage level, the public is aware of the organization and has a very casual relationship with it. At this level, interactions are limited to Facebook postings or Tweets about new product and event announcements, discount offerings, and informational tips.  This is where most small businesses and nonprofits tend to plateau.
INFORMAt the second level, Inform, the public becomes more actively involved with the organization, because the organization is offering useful, actionable information. People view the company or nonprofit as a source of credible information on specific topics, as well as context for breaking news on those topics. Kawasaki notes that utility companies have had great success with this level of engagement – posting information about planned outages and repairs, emergency response status updates and tips for conservation and cost savings.
SUPPORTThere is a major shift in the relationship between the organization and their supporters at the third level of engagement – Support. At this level, the organization is actively monitoring social media streams for mentions and engaging in conversations. One example that Kawasaki offers is “Comcast Cares” (@comcastcares), a customer service team which monitors Twitter for Tweets from unhappy consumers and “swoops in to help them.”
SELLThe final level of engagement is Sell and according to Kawasaki, this is where social media has changed the “marketing game” forever. At this level, organizations have attracted devoted fans and followers who are highly likely to purchase their product or provide financial and volunteer support to their cause. Kawasaki cites both Dell and Apple as examples of this level of engagement, where customers are so loyal that they have become ambassadors for the brand – sharing links to new product announcements with their own friends and followers and engaging new customers.
Kawasaki believes that in the new world of social media, value is determined by information provided: assistance, analysis, context and community. “Public broadcasting consistently provides good content. They have earned the right to run a telethon.” Those nonprofits and small businesses that offer useful, timely information, and do it frequently, will gain loyal followers and reap all the benefits of social media.
The PR Toolkit for Nonprofits thanks Susan Rink, principal of Rink Strategic Communications (www.rinkcomms.com), for this  great blog post.  Rink Communications specializes in effective internal communications to drive employee engagement, including strategic communications planning, executive communications, change management and crisis communications.  Her clients range from large, multinational companies to small, nonprofit organizations and represent a variety of industries including telecommunications, IT, financial services, federal contracting and the performing arts. Rink can be reached at rinkcomms@verizon.net.

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