In the normal course of business, sales leads are tracked for each customer presales engagement and each deal closed is a success. This is also true of any leads that are generated from your digital marketing initiatives. You can track who follows you, or who clicks on your link and visits your website. You can see which site has generated the click-through. You can also see who has continued their journey through the site and which of these visitors actually turns into a valid business opportunity. If you know which social site has generated the most click-through opportunities then there is a great opportunity for you to increase engagement with your audience by increasing your communication on that particular site. Recording and tracking these metrics can give you enough information to create an easy to digest summary of your progress. The decision makers can see that your efforts have been fruitful with month on month growth, brand awareness and presence. This report then can be used to validate your investment in your social initiative.

The use of search facilities on blogs and on Twitter can highlight mentions of your brand name which can then be used to track the increase or decrease in the number of people talking about your brand or product. These statistics can be used to calculate month on month growth (or decline) in brand mentions. This can be automated by the use of alerts or by using a sentiment measuring tool to watch change in satisfaction with your brand.

So you now have all of the pieces in place for a successful strategy. You know how social engagement works and the tools you need to use. You know why you need a great presence and effective ways to create, manage and maintain a good online brand. You are happy with the perception of your brand and how to effectively manage your reputation. You’ve implemented policies to manage staff use of social tools guided by thought leaders in digital engagement. You know how to find your audience, listen to them and engage with the right influencers. You’ve taken advantage of the strong and weak ties in your network and explored ways to leverage your influencer network. You’ve reached out beyond your immediate network and gathered new connections. You have a great understanding about behaviour and scale and you have generated advocates for your brand. You’ve generated buzz, have a viral effect going from time to time so you can sit back and relax, right?

Wrong. With the speed of change in our always on, always connected, digital world, nothing is fixed in stone. Everything is fluid and changes with the speed of a mouse click.

You need to be ahead of the game for your business to be agile.

Your existing investment in time and money needs to produce results for the next few years, which is difficult in this rapidly changing environment. So how can you stay ahead of the curve and continue to be a thought leader in your business? Predicting the digital engagement trends of the future will help you be one step ahead of the competition.

So let’s gaze into my crystal ball and have a go at predicting what sort of evolution we’re going to see next and whether we’ll need a brand new crowd to work with.

  • Find the recognised experts in your area.

  • Don’t place mandates and rules on the community. It will fragment and separate.

  • One well connected individual has the ability to create significant buzz in the community.

  • Think about Facebook and its ability to share links for your business channel.

  • Try to create something that will go viral.

  • Social causes can benefit from online gaming. Think about opportunities to earn revenue for the third sector.

  • Keep alert for the pace of change and watch for leading indicators.