Just as consumer engagement levels vary on social media, businesses too often utilise social media to varying degrees. After all, you can’t expect to consumers to engage with you if you don’t engage with them too. Laura Papworth has identified seven approaches businesses take to social media, ranging from shallow to deep engagement.

1. Internal – this is where social media is only used within your company. Perhaps you have established guidelines on when and how to appropriately use social media at work to communicate and collaborate with fellow colleagues, or you may have a company wiki page or community forum set up for your employees to interact.

2. Monitoring – when you are keeping track of the latest developments in social media in order to follow what consumers are saying about your brand. This might involve facilitating workshops or seminars on how best to keep track of keywords and commentary related to your brand, and analysing that information to generate reports.

3. Broadcasting – when you utilise social media to communicate information about your brand and company, perhaps sharing client stories or videos on your company’s beginning.

4. Viral – when you create original content for the purposes of distributing it widely across your social media platforms. This is the next step up from broadcasting in that you are actively promoting and encouraging sharing amongst others.

5. Campaign – where social media profiles are created for a specific campaign, usually a competition or promotion, that is used to draw in new consumers and maintain the interest of existing ones. Instead of creating several profile pages, it’s handy to remember you can rename your profile depending on the nature of campaign, whilst keeping the followers you have built up over previous ones.

6. Collaboration – this involves actively requesting and inviting consumers to provide feedback on your product. You might do this by creating the opportunity for consumers to vote on design features, or contribute ideas on how to better improve your product. This only works if you are actively taking into account feedback.

7.  People powered – where consumers and others who are invested in your product generate content and discussion for you. This is the ultimate level of engagement, where you have not only created a two-way street of communication between your customers, but you have established a level of efficiency allowing you to participate in all transactions while knowing the platform can function self-sufficiently.

Another way of gauging your social media use is by considering the Social Media 24/7 Model. Designed by Ingmar de Lange, Judith Hordick and Wilco Kaasenbrood, it focuses on a goal oriented use of social media, from communication to transaction.

This model highlights methods of usage that are key for specific goals. For example, if you are simply aiming to communicate about your brand, then your social media profile should be functioning as an information provider. This, however is the bare minimum. The lower box indicates a further step you can take in developing communication, by not only giving information but by creating a space where you can create a dialogue about it with your customers.

Examining the extent to which your brand engages in social media is crucial to improving your marketing strategy. The key lies in knowing where your goals lie and in tailoring your use of social media to better achieve those goals.

In our next blog post, you can find out how your brand can better engage with your customers.