10 Observations about Social Media Engagement from My Birthday

by Ken Mueller on March 13, 2013 · 18 comments

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2013 03 12 18.53.53 300x225 10 Observations about Social Media Engagement from My BirthdayWell, as you know from yesterday’s post, yesterday was my birthday. I worked a little, but mostly took the day off and enjoyed my family and friends. When I woke up in the morning, my Facebook wall was already filled with birthday greetings from folks across the globe. In fact, some came in the previous night before I went to bed, as some folks in other countries were celebrating before it was even my birthday here.

It’s kind of a cool thing to have so many warm wishes delivered directly to you on this one day a year. Certainly makes me feel good. And I started early responding to each and every one of them personally. In fact, part way through the day, my friend Nance noted:

I expect you to answer every single birthday post personally. None of this “Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes” status update stuff!

She knows me well. I constantly preach to my clients that they need to respond to each and every comment that people make on various social channels, so it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do the same. And as the day wore on, I started to notice a few things that could be useful for businesses as they create an online social presence and begin to engage with others.

1. Everyone has their preferred channel – In other words, not everyone will use the same social platform. While the large majority of the birthday greetings came on my Facebook wall, a few sent private Facebook messages, while others used Twitter and Google +. And there were a few emails, as well. This might be different for each of us, but for me, Facebook was the preferred channel. It’s where my friends are, and where they knew to communicate with me.

2. People ARE on Facebook – I keep hearing from a lot of folks that Facebook is dying and that people are defecting to other channels. I sure didn’t see it yesterday! And with several hundred greetings on Facebook alone, it’s clear that it’s still important for a lot of people.

3. Always respond – Every single person who wished me a happy birthday got a response (as far as I can tell. If I missed one, it was an oversight). In fact, it took me quite awhile to respond. Whether they gave me a simple, “Happy Birthday” or a more elaborate message, they all got responses. They were all appreciated. Regardless of whether I’ve known them for 50+ years, or have only known them a short time online, I was grateful for their greeting. And the simple act of “liking” their comment, and responding with some form of thanks, is important.

4. Engagement begets engagement – Because I responded, some of those folks came back and replied to me. A few of their birthday wishes turned into full fledged conversations. If you want engagement, you need to engage.

5. Influencers are everywhere – Some folks who posted on my wall are influencers. Well, they all are in some way, but some are very influential with other friends of mine. When they posted their greetings on my wall, others chimed in. Certain people were able to draw others in to conversations that involved quite a few different people. That wasn’t because of me; it was because of them.

6. Make everything easy – One of the reasons why the majority of the messages were on Facebook as opposed to other platforms is that Facebook has a really good mechanism in place in terms of birthdays. Facebook reminds you which of your friends are having birthdays, and might even prompt you later in the day if you haven’t wished them a happy birthday. It couldn’t be any easier. We can all learn from this. It’s the old “keep it simple, stupid” thing.

7. Memes are important – Over time as I’ve built relationships with folks online, a few memes have surfaced. These are things that people think of when they think of me. And my birthday was a chance for three of these to show up. A lot. I got quite a few mentions of both bacon and my porch as part of the birthday wishes. And of course there were quite a few people who referred to me as an old man, crotchety or otherwise. I guess these are part of what would be my personal brand. But no worries here, I enjoy the good jokes. And I’m also keep tracking of those who referred to me as old…

8. Everyone has their own style – Most were simple happy birthday greetings, while others attached music videos, or humorous videos or pictures. One person, Gini Dietrich, even recorded a special video for me that she sent via email. I wanted to show it here, but I made the mistake of asking her permission, and she declined. That’ll teach me to ask. But it was a fun little video, which may or may not have resembled this one:

9. Pictures increase engagement – Throughout the day I posted pictures of some of my gifts, as well as some of the food I was eating as part of my celebration. People liked those. And commented. People like pictures, and especially pictures of food.

10. It’s not just engagement – Some people don’t see the value of mere social media engagement, but it wasn’t all frivolous. Not only was I building stronger relationships with my friends, there were a few that involved actual business. Some of them were clients. Some of our conversations turned to business. Not every piece of engagement has to be a business deal in the making.

All in all, I had a great birthday. And as I write this, I’m still responding to the kind birthday wishes. Thank you all for making it a great day. Oh, and while you’re online, particularly Facebook, make use of their birthday feature and take a few seconds to wish your friends a “Happy Birthday” on their special days. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

 10 Observations about Social Media Engagement from My Birthday
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15 comments
Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

See I haven't been around much so today I dive bombed you!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

You left out opportunity cost Ken! Time spent on Facebook per user is down from its peak in early 2010 dramatically. But what happens when someone logs in is they see the birthday thing in the upper right. I always say happy birthday if I see one but i don't log in every day. And if I do so it doesn't mean I will sppend more time than my normal few minutes. It just means that action replaces another I might take. 

I try to explain this to clients and this dovetails with today's blog post (BTW happy birthday dude!) If the average user spend 12 minutes a day and you want your brand to have engagement you had better have great content. Because I have 350 friends and 250 brand/cause pages all clamouring to be seen by me in my 8 minutes on the site.

I agree with responding to call customer actions that you can respond to for a small business. But for a bigger business very hard to do. Often you stop being a content publisher are responding non-stop. But it seems lame if I can tell you get 5 comments or tweets a day and don't respond. 

Lastly there was a Media Post article about the 13 million brand pages and volume of comments. On average a Facebook user takes an action on a brand page once every 6 days. Not per brand page. A brand page. So I started using the talking about number to gauge participation which is a moving average and just a snap shot in time. For most businesses getting a fan to participate once per year or more is actually very good. Many like Starbucks and Wholefoods see only once every 2.5 years. Small businesses do better often with passionate fans participating 3x a year or more.

ArtageneSkipper
ArtageneSkipper

Hmmm   haven't seen this before.  

Nice Birthday post, I turned 73 on the 25th of February and didn't post...Oh Well...just sent thank you back to Family!  

lauraclick
lauraclick

Happy belated birthday, Ken! Sorry I missed it. Forgive me?

Great observations and I think a lot can be learned from this. If people take the time to send you a message on social networks (personal or business), responding is a no brainer. After all, engagement and relationship building is all part of being SOCIAL on social networks, right?


ginidietrich
ginidietrich

It did NOT resemble that one. Not in the least. Also, let's talk about this thanking everyone gig. I'm with you on this, but I get made fun of constantly because I do that. I do it partly because it's my personality to do so, but also because it's how this how social media thing works. So when people just do a broad "thank you," there is a part of me that gets it (we're all busy) and a part of me that thinks, "Huh. It's not so hard to thank everyone individually." Especially now. FB organizes it in a way that makes it easy to go through very quickly.

belllindsay
belllindsay

Now I want to see that video. ;) Great post Ken, so many simple lessons learned just because you got one crotchety year older. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@lauraclick All is forgiven. And, yes, it just makes good sense. I can't imagine not responding.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich No, your video was much better than this one...

And it's my personality as well. It really doesn't take that much time, especially when you consider from a business standpoint, rarely does any business get that many comments in such a short period of time. It can be very manageable. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@belllindsay I think that video will never see the light of day. She kinda threatened my life and stuff.

lauraclick
lauraclick

@KenMueller @ginidietrich Gini - people make fun of you for thanking people personally?!? That's too bad. I do it too. I guess the three of us are wired the same way. But, you're right - it's also how social media works. And, it makes people feel special for getting a response. I love the conversations that sprung out of those wishes when it was my birthday. That was the best part.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich @belllindsay Lindsay, for the right amount of money, I might just accidentally slip and  blurt out my email password, and you might just accidentally find that particular email that holds the video. After that, I can't be held responsible for what happens with it. Can you say "viral meme"?

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