Web clicks and website traffic used to announce that you had a lot of customers and people involved with your company and its products. These were valued as much as a Facebook user’s thousands of friends and ‘likes’ are now. However, it has since been determined that none of these are an indication of consumer loyalty. Debra Aho Williamson notes that “Likes are not a gauge of consumer involvement with your company or brand. But companies still insist on touting their total just like they touted ‘hits’ back in the early days of the web” http://bit.ly/ilKSqU . Votes of interest like these are merely starting points for consumer interaction and engagement. In other words, social engagement is not that simple. It takes a lot of work, a lot of listening and a lot of conversation and conversion to build loyalty. A few weeks ago I touched extensively on this in my Engagement Matters Most post. This trend is already branching out to mimic this social engagement through other platforms. The CW is working on closing the gap from commercial viewing to point of purchase by rewarding viewers for watching commercials http://bit.ly/lAli0H. Capitalizing on research that shows viewers always have their cell phone nearby when watching TV, they are utilizing cell phones to offer rewards. It works like this. Viewers download the shopping app Shopkick and let the app listen to CW commercials, much like using the Shazam app to listen to music in order to identify its title and artist. When a Shopkick-enabled commercial airs the viewer receives an “unobtrusive on-screen alert” prompting them to open the app to receive discounts for use inside the advertiser’s stores. By measuring how many people use the coupons they gain insight into how many people purchase their products as a result of watching their commercials.
In addition to being extended to cell phones, Pepsi-Co has extended social engagement to vending machines. With the launch of PepsiCo’s social vending machine prototype comes another platform for social engagement http://bit.ly/kjOSAa . A unique touchscreen allows consumers to buy a drink and gift one to a friend at the same time. Sound familiar? Reminds me of the advent of gifts on Facebook. Consumers can also record a short video message to go along with their gift. Additionally, ‘Random Acts of Refreshment’ allows the consumer to gift a drink to a stranger. An interesting concept indeed. Perhaps that could be an extension to our shopping and gifting someday. Kiosks at grocery stores that allow you to select a gift or gift card, send it, and personalize it with a short video message delivered to the recipient. Regardless, the point is that social engagement is venturing beyond the confines of social networking much like advertising advanced beyond television and print. Another way that we could see social engagement brought to other platforms would be to incorporate the iPad. Before long we may be able to stream television through iPads to have true on-demand viewing wherever we go. If or when that happens we could see deals worked into commercials there with a direct link to the website for engagement purposes. My prediction is that social engagement will become the norm for all types of interaction with consumers at all points of interaction with consumers. If it can happen in these examples, just think of the possibilities that are still untapped. The only limit is your imagination.