What is your relationship to the word, ‘engagement’? Does it make you cringe? Does it inspire you to seek out a conversation? Engagement. Yeah, about that.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about engagement. It’s different for everyone. My husband is an extrovert. When he walks into a place inhabited by humans, his first thought is, “Who is here that I might know? Who can I talk to?” Then there’s me. I’m looking around for the empty table, preferably one requiring me to pass by the coffee station on my way to find a place where I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t know. I may not be your standard introvert by certification but I am by expression. People who know the real me, are often shocked at my presence on social media – because they know me as the person most likely to run from cameras and escape networking meetings with a minuscule number of new acquaintances. Engagement. Yeah, about that.
Where you ride the waves on the sociability spectrum has very little to do with your ability to engage with people. Capacity may have more limitations because engagement requires us to dig into our resources and make time for it. Let’s consider, first, the subject of engagement and what that means. A quick peek at my American Heritage Dictionary proves that the implications of this word ‘engagement’ range from betrothal to battle. Not helpful! I prefer what I’ve learned through social media channels like the BizCatalyst 360° network.
Engagement is the communication and interaction between people that builds relationships, breaks down walls, adds to our repertoire of knowledge, and makes conversations come alive. To engage means to participate, to be involved through posting, reading, reacting, commenting, and encouraging each other toward learning and self-development.
Platforms, how do I love them? Let me count them all. This is not even in the realm of possibility unless you lean into some strong OCD tendencies. The number of platforms has grown at an incredible rate and more seem to be added weekly. A platform is an app or tool where words, music, and pictures create the online experience. Think: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and let’s not stop there because added and smokin’ hot just in the past couple of years are SnapChat, Periscope, Vimeo, Vine … Are you still with me? See? More added every week. A platform is also your message proclaimed to the world to invite people into your experience to connect and interact with you, become part of your tribe.
Engagement. Yeah, about that.
Now that we know that social media engagement is more like the snowball that rolls and grows than the rolling stone that gathers no moss, let’s agree that it’s a good thing. Social media has not only opened up windows to the world, but it has also removed walls entirely, and this is the sticky wicket. On the one hand, we meet people across the United States and globally whom we would never have the opportunity to know.
We enrich our vision of how the world operates by reading posts from home and around the world. We can ask questions and learn something on any topic on our minds because people are eager to share their knowledge with their perspectives.
Then on the other side of this is our communications as we engage with whoever happens to read what we’ve written. The broader our circle extends, the greater the need to be sensitive to cultural differences and careful with our communication. Yet another facet is that we grow a thick skin and become adept at letting rude inferences and ugly comments roll off our backs. Perhaps the most positive benefit in social media is that we learn about everything from culture to climate, to technology – without leaving home. And it is all due to engagement – through reading, adding a comment, asking a question, and through pursuing more.
Maybe you, like me, see so many opportunities for engagement spread across multiple platforms, groups, articles, and authors you think,
This is too much. Oh. My. Goodness. Where do I start? And if I start, where does it end?
It’s a good dilemma to have if you’re always learning, right? It’s overwhelming if you’re racing to the finish line of a day already packed with obligations. Remember capacity versus ability? Our ability to engage, as we’ve seen is limitless. We can choose a variety of ways to engage, but all that ability kicks us hard in the capacity.
I am not a social media strategist. I am not a social media guru. I am not a social media expert. I am a social media enthusiast. Where I fail at face to face networking, I excel at social media networking. It’s because I see the benefits of social media engagement. But, I have my limitations. Realizing the threshold on my time, I have to be selective on the number of articles I read and respond to. Of necessity, I sometimes have to read an article to glean facts from it and have no time to add a comment because there are limits to how much time I can spend online. My situation isn’t unique by any standard. We are in the same boat, you and I. We have to set boundaries around the time parameters we have available for learning and sharing via social media.
In my planning notebook, I have my purpose statement, some objectives, and list of topics I’m interested in. I also have a list of people, groups, and organizations whose work I’m interested in whose values I respect. This helps me set boundaries around those time parameters that melt right off that rolling snowball we talked about earlier. Based on those interests in my notebook, I created a vision board and made a pact with myself. That helped me determine three things: What to read; Why comment; When to share my own writing. Before I made that pact with myself about boundaries, I wasted hours every day (weeks at a time) wandering aimlessly around the Internet. I might have been successfully engaging, but without real focus and with minimal value to my goals.
I generally set up my weekly plan on Sunday night, but if not, I write my plan before I push on the throttle for each day. If my day allows time for engagement, I use time from my budget to visit groups, blogs, and one of the many platforms to investigate opportunities that align with my interests. I still get discouraged sometimes that I don’t have a plan or routine to spread out my engagement broadly enough, but I believe I’m at least avoiding the unilateral approach by participating in multiple groups over multiple platforms.
I might go directly to the BC360° Site. More often, I peruse LinkedIn where I am a member of numerous groups under the BC360° umbrella. Facebook is probably my most prevalent option because this is my go-to place for gleaning information among friends. I’m more likely to slip into this group and spend extra time and yes, much time is sucked away from my budget on this platform. I use Twitter to find articles quickly if I want to read a particular author or learn about a specific subject. Twitter is also my favorite platform to quickly share articles right while reading the article. Nearly every article posted today has a set of ‘share buttons’ that allow you to click and share in an instant. This, too, is engagement.
While I use other platforms, I will share just two others. I find that creating memes is a fun, creative outlet for me. I am not an expert and have not one drop of artistic blood in my veins. I am a fun loving creative and adding text to photos is my outlet. My platform of choice to share memes is Instagram. However, I could also share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and that brings me to Pinterest. Remember my lack of artistic ability? Pinterest is the infinite encyclopedia and creative platform for ideas and adventures in design that would never come to me had I not opened a Pinterest account back in the day when it was by invitation only. Yes – true story. That is how Pinterest, the behemoth it is today, got started. When we engage on Pinterest, creativity kindles because creatives dwell there.
So where are we? Do you see why engagement can be the fuel we need to keep ideas flowing and to keep learning about new subjects, becoming familiar with cultures around the world, and finding satisfaction in living in a complex world because we understand it better? Engagement takes time, but it doesn’t have to slow you down. Use your budget.
Engagement. Yeah, about that. We can’t do it all, but we can do something. Choose to engage once a day. See if that works for you.
Without engagement, there is no real way to gauge the effectiveness of what we’ve learned from reading, or if you’re the author, from writing. Without engagement what we learn stays on the surface without solid roots formed through interacting with others. The key is to take two or three minutes to read and another minute to comment adding your own perspective. Think of it as sharing knowledge that enriches communication at a minimum but in reality has the potential to add new insights, improve networking connections, strengthen relationships, and to encourage the author who put effort into writing on topics of interest.
How about you? How do you interact? What is your engagement strategy? When you budget your time, do you build in time to read and respond so others can learn from you? Sharing is value added. Let’s adopt the “Each one teach one” philosophy. As you learn, pass it on. Write the article or engage by writing in the comments section.
Ready …. set …. engage!