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by Anthony Bontrager on October 23, 2011

I used to love picking up this flat crooked stick and throwing it in the air, seeing how far it would go before returning to my expectant hands.  However, while the outbound throw was always rewarding, it was the return the rarely worked out.  Try as I might a consistent return path was difficult to come by.

And so it is with brands and the meteoric rise of their proliferation on various social networks.  Their aim – to extend their brands in an effort to increase reach and engagement – is the appropriate one given the reach social networks have to offer. Like the boomerang, they’ve thrown themselves into the social cloud but will it come back to them as they intend?  Have they really accomplished anything at all?

An interesting report from PageLever, as reported by TheNextWeb, details what many have been missing – the difference between an “active” user and an “engaged” one.  As the report shows, active users are really defined as people who’ve viewed your fan page or piece of content, but an engaged one actually takes an identifiable action – clicking “like”, sharing the page/article, commenting, tweeting, etc.  While this may seem elementary, the numbers are anything but.  According to PageLever, the net result of this phenomenon is that less than 2% (Yes, less than 2%) of your users are actually engaging with your content.








In many cases this has to do with the content itself.  Whether you’re creating an incredible fan page on Facebook or are a prolific Twitter user, these mediums can be incredibly difficult to push forward an engaging story to your users – it’s just not the same as your own web presence regardless of the amount of eyeballs these and other social platforms drive.  In fact, we’re already seeing a significant majority of users “unlike” or quit following brands due to boring, non-engaging or “intrusive” content.

We are now in the age of the Social Break-up.

This doesn’t mean that brands should stop using social networks but simply recognize that the honeymoon may well be over and its time for the social relationship to mature.  Here, brands should focus on leveraging the audience power and immediacy of social networks in order to drive users back to their own web properties where they have a significantly better chance of engaging more directly with the user.  Once landed the brand can engage, inform and entertain the user, giving the user more reason to pay attention to the brand’s more formal social outreach and further encourage them to come back and continue to engage with the brand.  The resulting ROI and % of engagement are likely to increase dramatically as a result.

Like the boomerang, you are bringing the users back to you where they rightly belong.

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