Use the Social Ask as a Springboard to Long-Term Engagement


Laura Dunn

I read an interesting blog post by Sarah Evans in May. In her post, she referenced a study conducted by Sevans Strategy and Alterian, which discovered there are more than 3.3 million global social asks each month. That is a lot of “follow me,” “friend me,” “fan me” and “like me.” But how much is too much?
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While 3.3 million mentions seems incredible, when you compare that number to the 50 million tweets per day or the 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook monthly, 3.3 million mentions doesn’t seem too intrusive. Nevertheless, you and your organization must get used to being on the receiving end of the “social ask.”

What is a social ask? The “ask” is any receipt of an invitation to friend, follow, like, check in or fan a page/brand, etc. The “ask” is what initiates the online relationship. It starts the process. It’s a courtship. The goal in social media is to move beyond the initial stage of a passive friend who simply is a “fan” or “likes” your Facebook page and into an active participant engaged in an ongoing conversation.

The Sevans Strategy and Alterian study tracked all online mentions of the key phases behind the “social ask” including those on blogs, online media, social networks, forums, video and photo sharing sites, as well as microblogs such as Twitter and Tumblr. 

Study findings:

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Source: Alterian and Sarah Evans

Applying this knowledge to your business:

Expand the initial social “ask.” Think about it. After asking someone on a date, would you follow up for a second date if the first one was a success? Of course you would. The same thing applies in the social sphere; it’s about the chase and building long-term relationships. If you want enduring relationships, here are five lessons that will get you beyond the initial ask:

  1. Engage Your Audience: If your audience is valuable, reward them with incentives to participate with your brand. 

  2. Customer Service Is Important: Put your best customer service expert in charge of connecting with your customers. Empowering that person to teach/model for others is essential for longevity within the world of social media. You must build a cadre of social media experts, to insure your strategy can be executed regardless of uncontrollable events. 

  3. Get Personal: End mass marketing campaigns in the social media sphere; individualize your approach. 

  4. Demonstrate Your Brand Value: Post videos, organizational announcements and other digital media assets to your social media outlets. 

  5. Solicit Feedback: Consider social media platforms your online therapist. Do you want to know how you are doing?  Ask, and you will get real-time feedback. Remember, it’s silly to solicit and receive feedback if you don’t demonstrate that you and/or your organization will put it to good use.

As consumers are presented with an increasing amount of content due to the social ask, it is in a brand’s best interest to understand who is sharing, liking and interacting with their content the most. Organizations need to identify influencers, learn what makes them click and then develop strategies to further engage with their influencers. 

Laura Dunn is a national media and public relations consultant for Kaiser Permanente. In 2010 she was named one of PR News' 15-to-Watch. You can follow her on Twitter at @CUgirl481 and contact her at Laura.C.Dunn@kp.org.




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  • Christina Holmes

    This is a wonderful article with fantastic information. Thank you very much!

  • Janet DeVor

    I love the analogy you make of the “courtship” process and keeping your influencers engaged. Great stuff!

  • Kyle Niday

    I found this to be a helpful and insightful read, thanks!

  • Kathy Ferrell

    Ms. Dunn, you present a very clever comparison! The lessons are very helpful and listed in such a way that will allow me to remember them and use them everyday!