Monthly Archives: April 2010

Is Social Media Engagement a Myth?

To what extent is social media’s promise of engagement a myth?

Earlier today I read this comment on Twitter from the recognised and highly regarded, including by myself, Twitter expert, @markshaw.

Mark believes strongly in the power of Twitter.  I join him in that.  But his apparent belief that he should expect a response from @nickclegg is misplaced and I think inappropriate.

Social Media Etiquette

Mark’s cajoling, even challenge, to Nick Clegg to communicate with him, to reply, is inappropriate.  If Nick and Mark (forgive the familiarity of first names) were present in the same room, at a networking event, then such a demand for a response would be wildly out of place.

You would wait your turn, probably wait for an opportunity to feed into an existing conversation or wait for a quiet discrete moment.

The Force Response – Is an answer required?

I replied to Mark that the “force response”, to me, is the domain of the email.  People expect responses to email, and quickly too.

One of the joys of Twiter, to me, is that I choose to go to my twitter stream and dip in and out of the conversation as I choose.  Sometimes I broadcast, sometimes I respond, sometimes I engage in a conversation.

I opt in, or out.  Twitter puts me in control.

The only time I feel I am expected to respond is if addresed by direct or an @ message.

The Illusion of Engagement

But, for the individual reading any given tweet, the perception that they are engaged in a conversation or relationship is nothing but a powerful illusion.

This has bearings for us as all as we continue to use this medium personally and commercially.


I myself became frustrated last year when I tweeted about some truly awful customer service from Tescos.  I live tweeted about the service and expected some response from Tescos. Nothing and I had to go through email and telephone instead.

Is it right that we expect to be heard and acknowledged within social media?

Perhaps we should expect organisations to be responsive.  Would I expect the Lib/Dem machine to get in touch with Mark?  I think I would.

Should it be a personalised answer from Nick Clegg.  No, surely not.  If he gets it then that’s very nice.  It will give Mark a great anecdote to share in his excellent Twitter training sessions and might boost Nick’s credibility within Mark’s contact spheres, but it is not necessary.

Aggression Detering Engagement

Finally I cannot resist pulling on my conflict communications hat.  There is something quite aggressive about Mark’s challenge to Nick. (I really wish I hadn’t gone with first names).  I’m sure Mark didn’t mean it to.

I think the problem is in the opening “If…”

It almost reads as if to say, “Oh yeah Nick? If you are so prepared to listen and engage, come on out here…” 

So again, note to self, be aware of how we might be coming across…

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts?



Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology