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Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

55 thoughts on “7 Levels of Social Media Engagement

  1. Great rabbit hole Laurel,
    Based on my experience with clients, Social Media Monitoring and Eavesdropping (referred to as Stage 2) is rarely brought up. The typical scenario I face with clients sounds something like this “give some of that Facebook stuff, and flipper or Twitter or whatever you guys call it, and yes that thing that has videos … what was that called again” – so basically, they’ve heard about social media, they have no idea why they should get on it, but they know they have to because it’s shiny and new … they expect miracles, and they expects it instantly! They think Facebook likes are an indication of a successful engagement – so you can forget about interaction monitoring, or tonality, or any other measurements. All they care about is number of likes, number of followers, number of views on Youtube.
    So i guess we need to develop a slightly different diagram for this part of the world 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Laurel,
    with respects,
    John

  2. I really enjoyed this. I’m a marketing consultant and this is a great post to point clients to sensitively inform them where they are on the scale of social media adoption.

    As of late, there hasn’t been a problem getting clients to get their feet wet and try some of this stuff out. But this time last year I still found quite a few wanted to jump strait into ‘viral’ with a quirky video. I think there’s more appreciation now that there needs to be a strategy in place and someone other than admin manning the fort.

    As for my own company. Gosh, probably Stage 3.

  3. Is it just me BUT does anybody else feel this analogy is a tad cynical ? Perhaps the post should be renamed “Pitfalls to avoid along the path to social media adoption?
    I think to get a true picture you have to look at social media on on how it integrates with business throughout the organisation . Another stage to perhaps add is when businesses finally realize that social media is not just campaign based and commits to adopting social on an going basis across its organisation inside and outside out and moves into social across other areas of its business such as customer service and offline events to drive engagement and sales.
    Another great model i have also found useful is Jake Mckee’s ‘ social engagement journey’ http://bit.ly/gHU3um
    Thanks for the post definitely got me thinking ..

    1. Hey David, I hope not toooo cyncial 😉 I did mention that these are valid baby steps.

      I see Stage 6, Collaboration, as being “whole of company” approach. In my courses I outline 12 steps of social enterprise engagement under Stage 6 – and you are quite right, social media short term campaigns is only one of those steps.

  4. Nice breakdown. I particularly like the use of entirely plausible examples. 🙂

    Interesting to see the applicability spectrum, too. E.g. the levels would apply a lot more accurately to larger businesses, but a tech startup, for example, would likely start at Stage 2, and even kinda Stage 7, if that relates to what their business does.

    Granted, given that many tech firms are “geek-centric”, the companies need to reach a certain maturity before they get the resources and skills on board to go a good job of things like Stage 5.

  5. I think most businesses actually do engage in step 2 by monitoring what’s being said about them on sites like Yelp and Google places and when the negatives outweigh the positives they will get into reputation management mode. Stage 7 doesn’t apply to all businesses because not all are set up to connect individuals with specific services. At my agency we’ve coverd stages 1-5.

  6. wonderful article. Thank you for the post, I manage a site based on entertainment and celebrity trends and everything viral, so social media is one of the most important factors in getting the word out. It’s nice to see the steps we need to take in order to truly engage with our readers. We are constantly learning at Trendrabbit that the Rabbit hole goes very deep indeed when it comes to social media. Looking forward to your future posts.

  7. Hi Laurel, I’ve briefly blogged on your 7 Steps post here
    http://charmingspindoctor.blogspot.com/2011/03/7-levels-of-social-media-engagement.html

    The discussion below has been really enlightening – thanks very much all !

  8. Excellent article, It’s nice to see the steps we need to take in order to truly engage with our readers. I manage a site based on entertainment and celebrity trends and everything viral, so social media is one of the most important factors in getting the word out.

  9. Thankfully, a number of my campaigns have already reached level 7. However, I’d like to say that a huge part of their success was because my clients had also been cooperative with me. They listened to my inputs, trusted me, and asked questions or suggestions whenever they didn’t know what to do next. They too deserve the credit.

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  11. I’m glad I stumbled on to this post. The recent Google (Panda and Penguin) updates have had my sites depending more and more on social networking for traffic. It’s time to print out the 7 steps and start marching down this rabbit hole. Great info

  12. It feels odd posting a comment on a post from 18 months ago, and where the previous comment is from 4 months ago. But I arrived here via a link tweeted today, the post is still very relevant, so let’s do what feels natural as a first shot.

    The piece is still 9x% relevant in spite of what we are told about the breakneck pace of change in Social Media. It’s also really useful. Not in a damn-with-faint-praise sense of ‘useful’, like ‘interesting’. But useful as in – you can do something practical with it right now, in spite of it’s brevity and simplicity, something that I happen to need to do today… like the way the cuticle-pusher-thing I picked up yesterday was the only way to get into my GalaxySII ;0) So comment 1 = “Thanks!”.

    A few thoughts to add.

    I think there’s a good version of the listening stage. I regularly advise people who are falling over themselves to do something [e.g. in Broadcast Out mode] to listen… and then to listen some more. But it has to be listening with a view to engaging. Not listening simply to collect passive data. I ask companies to listen to what is being said, where, by who, and how [language,purpose etc] not just about them [the Brand] but about the things they are interested in or care about. [The bi-product is that it makes them check whether there *are* things which *as a company* they care about or are interested in… whether they are the sort of company that can have a view… and how it gets to exist… possibly even leading to enlightenment about *internal* Social Media]. THEN they can decide whether/how/why to join in.

    I think your progression highlights two chasms that organisations need to cross if they want to get to a good Social Media place.The first is either between 4 and 5 or between 5 and 6. It depends on how the campaigns are conducted, whether they are part of an evolution… or whether they are dead-ends which simply treat Social Media platforms as a kind of comms infrastructure. This gap is about becoming naturally and habitually two-way. [All the exhortations around a full understanding of 2.0-ness still apply here]. This goes along with recognising that engagement *means* 2-way-ness, and applies to many company needs/functions besides ‘Comms’.

    The other one is between 6 and 7. But I’m not sure if it’s a gap or a potential fork… or even a Stage 6.5 which can be sustained indefinitely. Your Stage 7 examples look like cases where social now *is* the business – a new type of business. Whereas I think there’s another state, or a fork in the road, where companies whose products and services simply can’t be transformed in that way, can nonetheless become much more radically social [in their online engagement] than the good practice state you describe at 6.

    I need to think further about that – and look deeper into your examples – for which another ‘thanks’ for inspiration. But I’d be interested in your take on my initial reaction.

  13. Amazing that this is still relevant after so long.

    Alot of times, companies didnt’ really listen to the buzz before jumping in. If FMCG brands are on Facebook, it doesn’t mean that a B2B co should be on Facebook. Listening to the community is essential when moving from one stage to another. Alot of companies make the mistake of blindly sending out content, thinking that it will be relevant to their audience without checking where the community is heading.

    Another good read 🙂

  14. Thanks. Touches the idea of where best/how best to utilize the crowd mind for #HeForShe.For example, can goals be acquired through the crowd? Not voted for, but rather through engagement. Can the Crowd show, rather than tell what is primary? #AmThinking #amWriting Thanks again.

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