Brian Solis has an excellent post on the psychology of social engagement. It’s worth your reading his entire take on things and the research he references. A lot of you might read it and say, “Duh!, I already knew that” but I would say that when someone codifies it, we are the better for being able to plan for and create social engagement using these principals. That said, I do like his beginning, especially the part about how NOT engaging in a social conversation is worse than loosening your company controls and becoming part of social conversations…………even if you cannot control those interactions.
Social media is about social science not technology. As such, its value is not realized in the Likenomics of relationship status nor in the scores individuals earn by engaging in social networks. The value of social media comes down to people, relationships, and the meaningful actions between them. As such, its value is measured through the exchange of social currencies that contribute to one’s capital within each network. Through conversations, what we share, and the content we create, consume and curate, we individually invest in the commerce of information and the relationships that naturally unfold. It is in how these relationships take shape that is both in and out of your control. This is why, in the age of social networking, relevant engagement counts for everything.
One of the greatest myths in new media is that social networks facilitate conversations about you that would not otherwise take place if your organization weren’t present. As such, some business leaders believe that creating a presence in social networks eventually erodes the control of the brand, risking the governance they’ve theoretically held onto so triumphantly over the years. So, if that logic holds, by not engaging in social networks or by sharing only one dimension of your business online, you can control what people think and say. Well, this always seems to come as a surprise to those who think otherwise, but the truth is that new media did not “invent” conversations, experiences, or opinions. It seems imprudent and perhaps commonsensical to say, but, the truth is actually the contrary to popular belief.
The control you think you lose by opening up to online engagement actually gives you a sense of control. While we are measured by our actions and words. We are also measured by our inaction and silence. Once you understand what people say and don’t say, how they connect, what they share, how they discover and make decisions, and who influences them and who they influence, a blueprint for engagement emerges. People will always talk with or without you. The questions you have to answer are, “what do you want them to say and what do you want them to do?”
Read the entire article. He has a lot more content and it’s worth the time.