Does the future of community management lie in transactions?

In our last post, we explored Pinterest’s potential for social media marketing and community management efforts. As the network continues to grow, however, some brands are leveraging the social network in a different manner. Most notable of these instances comes from Gilt’s “unlockable pins” campaign. According to TechCrunch, this new feature allows pinners to access a hidden link once a pin has been repinned at least 50 times. This promotional link remains exclusive to Pinterest followers and cannot be accessed anywhere else on the Gilt’s site.

Sephora provides us with a clear example of the “like-gating” banner (courtesy of Hubspot). 

As we consider the future of social media marketing, these approaches to community management will continually be called into question. Sure, there are undoubtedly short term benefits of these campaigns for brands. Social media managers can pinpoint the ROI of such promotions based on increased (albeit artificial) engagement. But is this transaction-based engagement truly where we want to steer the social media marketing industry? After all, it seems these transactions cheapen the community’s experience. 

Why can’t we focus on the long-term advantages and power of an engaged community? Brands need to be constantly reminded that social media isn’t a simple task. There can be a place for easy to execute promotional campaigns, but true online engagement stems from hours of immersion within your own community. As Ekaterina Walter, social strategist at Intel, writes on MarketingProfs, brands should provide compelling and interactive content. This varies from industry to industry and network to network, but it’s increasingly clear that social media is valid force in marketing. As the industry flourishes, we’ll learn to measure and appreciate the long-term benefits of sustained community engagement. What do you think? Have you tried to justify time spent truly interacting and relating to the community? How difficult was that? 

2 thoughts on “Does the future of community management lie in transactions?

  1. Great points, Daniel. This also reminds reminds me of the Groupon model. The initial ‘engagement’ is artificially positive while the merchant, in reality, loses money on the transaction. Or makes very little. This is supposedly offset by ‘promotional value’, ‘good will’ that encourages repeat visits, and the ‘bring-along’ effect. None of which I, personally, buy. Transactions will not build community. The shortest path to true engagement may well turn out to be prolonged trust and a genuine effort to build and support a community.

  2. I think you have a good point that transaction-based engagement can not sustain a brand, however I’d venture to say that the brands that are investing in social media and have the time/budget/staff to create these reward-earning promotions for their followers are also spending the time engaging them in the true "build a relationship" kind of way. If a follower pins a post to unlock a link, the chances that they will engage as a customer later on are greater than had they never been invited into the community in the first place.

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