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How Valuable Is Social Media Engagement, Again?

The headline here is truly an open question, because so many within the marketing/PR communities disagree. Here’s the tweet that inspired it:

Gregg may be considered something of an authority on this issue since he serves as VP of social at MasterCard.

Yet many have other ideas. Just yesterday, for example, a Punchtab study told us that most Millennials only care about such interactions when they involve free stuff or discounts.

Curtis Silver of Digiday is also very skeptical when it comes to “authentic relationships” between brands and their followers, calling them “a complete con” dreamt up by teams of consultants. His point: again, it’s all about the coupons and “[making] the money back by inflating prices to compensate for the coupons.”

Silver also writes that those not motivated by the chance to save a dollar on a box of cookies just want to stir the hornet’s nest by “poking” popular brands on social. Case in point: U.S. Airways.

Even among those who agree regarding the value of such seemingly minor interactions, there is a divergence of opinion on what constitutes engagement versus customer service–and how clearly the two should be distinguished from one another.

For example, in response to the U.S. Airways porn tweet story, Peter LaMotte of LEVICK told us:

“For any consumer-facing product brand, they need to delineate between customer service and brand persona online.”

On the other hand, here’s a point from a recent guest post on sister site Social Times by Leslie Campisi of Hotwire PR:

“…in the future, those managing a brand’s social media presence and those responding to its customers’ questions online will belong to the same team.”

Our only conclusion: the industry will continue agreeing to disagree on both issues: what engagement means and how much it’s really worth.

Is Weiss right? If so, how can we quantify his sentiment?

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