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Love your post! Just one minor qualification around your comment "social media is but a reflection of life, just like public relations, marketing, and everything else with them - we get out of it what we put in"...In my experience of life... if you put in with the EXPECTATION of something out of it...it doesn't work...it is only when you put in with NO EXPECTATION that it works...a much more difficult aspect of engagement in any form.

This is a great post -- very insightful. What I find interesting as well is how engagement is related to how consumers recommend products and services to others. If the form and manner of engagement is meaningful and authentic, then there comes a desire to share. Word of mouth marketing has grown so much with the advent of social networking sits and micro-blogs like Facebook and Twitter that sharing is easier than ever before. Although these tools can be fun and useful for driving buzz, the issues of creating sustainable conversation of value should be the foundation of all business online.

Everyday, I see brands excited about growing their online presence, but it's all about using the tools and not the strategy and level of engagement behind what makes them successful. Being transparent and authentic are key elements to creating a valuable experience for the consumer.

Valeria,

I really appreciate how you expanded snippets of an idea into a loose guide -- and boost of confidence -- in moving forward in this space. I love your summary: "What you do need is clarity in what you want and awareness of who you are." I think that explains why I'm perpetually re-drawing my map (often literally, I love mind maps!) and re-assessing where I stand and where I'm going. It keeps me completely invested in what I'm doing.

Like Lisa Gates commented above, I think you're right on to say we should simply engage here as we strive to do in "real" life ... and thereby acknowledge the "realness" of our online interactions :).

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