‘Social Engagement’ is a new buzz in the field of marketing. Though the concept has existed for a long time, it has gained momentum only recently. Firms have started considering it as the key to success. Social engagement in the simplest terms means ‘engaging with the society’. Firms have understood that without connecting to the society, it is almost impossible to survive and flourish. But this concept is often misunderstood as ‘social media’ or ‘social marketing.’ Social engagement is rather a broad term and it encompasses these terms. Social media is only a tool for social engagement. Social engagement rather can be understood as a means to accomplish business objectives through connecting to the society in some or the other way. It is not only a marketing tool but a complete business tool. Sometimes people also misinterpret it as an internet-based activity but that is not true. Social engagement involves a holistic approach to reach to the target market.
Rise in Social Engagement
The two basic reasons for the growing popularity of social engagement as a business tool include:
- Globalization: The firms are going global and in order to be successful in global markets, they need to identify and connect to the local market.
- Increasing Competition: The increasing numbers of supplements available in the market make it mandatory to differentiate and promote the offering. Social engagement does it.
Benefits of Social Engagement
Once a company connects to the society, there is no end to the benefits bestowed upon it. Regular interactions with the society in general through any means help the company to:
- Understand the demand better
- Develop better offerings
- Improve product innovation
- Improve customer value
- Gain brand recognition
- Strengthen customer relationships
Social engagement is a very helpful strategy especially for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as these firms get an opportunity to become visible socially.
Tools for Social Engagement
The firms can connect to the society in numerous ways but mostly these tools come under three broad categories:
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities
- Social media marketing
- Localizing the business model
Guidelines for Effective Social Engagement
Social engagement if carried out properly as a business strategy can lead to winning results for the company but at the same time, if it is not carried out effectively it will only result into adding to costs and spoiling the company’s image. In current market scenario, the firms should confirm about the following while designing their social engagement strategy.
- The social engagement activities must adhere to the business vision and objectives
- Social engagement strategy should be drafted considering its corporate impact as well as social impact.
- The social engagement strategy should be flexible so that it can easily be changed according to market dynamics
- There should be a blend of social engagement tools in the strategy
- The message to be conveyed should be designed very accurately
- Though social engagement involves spreading a social message but target consumers should be well defined
- There should be regular review of firm’s social engagement strategy
The Case Study
As far as localizing their business model is concerned, Sony Corporation is one of the prominent examples of social engagement. When the company introduced its range of electronics in China, it faced the tough challenge of changing Chinese consumers’ perception about expensive Japanese electronics. The company adopted social engagement strategy to identify and understand Chinese consumers and modified its business model according to them. The company also secured local management resources and redefined its value chain and is now a huge success in China.
- D’Costa, A. (2012). Globalization and Economic Nationalism in Asia. UK: Oxford University Press.