The Value of True Social Engagement

Cole Wiebe
April 3, 2020
Read time: 3 minutes

Social engagement (also social involvement, social participation) refers to one's degree of participation in a community or society. – Wikipedia

This 90-second video by Pu-erh.sk is a beautiful reminder of how tea has come to symbolize the social interaction we are currently forbidden to enjoy, as we live under the cloud of Covid-19, quarantine and enforced social distancing. The media and government have told us we need to be afraid of everyone. "Go home and stay at home." How can we run a business like that?

And the bulk emails we've been receiving, assuring us our bank, grocery and drug stores, and utilities "are here for us" just come across as insincere 'PR notifications', with all the warmth of a letter from the revenue agency. In this time of crisis, we want to interact with real people, and messages like that are going straight in the trash.

So, is there a way to thrive in this situation?

Absolutely! But some course corrections will be necessary. This is the time to actually reach out to our clients as a friend. How about sending out personal emails in which you open by making sincere inquiries about their family, their health or how this is affecting business. When we invest ourselves personally into cultivating relationships with our clients, we build emotional equity.

If you haven't been keeping a file on your clients, with personal details to open conversations, this would be a good time to start. Many of you will still remember that, before this automated data-driven digital age, most salespeople kept an active Rolodex card for each of their clients. They'd note birthdays, children's names and approximate ages, hobbies, business/employment information and even the name of the dog. It wasn't about the number of followers on Instagram, or likes on Facebook. They recognized the value of true engagement.

Sitting at home, feeling very isolated, the people you serve need you more now than ever. Some health professionals are calling each patient with a scheduled 10-minute free video chat over tea. What a great introduction to 'virtual house call' consultations.

This is a fantastic occasion for most professionals and small businesses to reconnect with their clients and customers. If your website now offers a virtual alternative, or delivery service, some 'user experience (UX) copywriting' may be essential, so your visitors understand how you've pivoted to continue offering exceptional personal service, even though the brick and mortar doors are closed just now.

Many business leaders are saying that 'business as usual' will never be the same again. We're told to plan for a new "normal." Online is no longer the optional 'brochure' website that has been allowed to languish in neglect. It's just become your whole business, while brick and mortar for many industries has become a big question mark. The companies that pivot quickly will probably not only survive but also thrive. Business owners who wait for the good old days to return will probably burn through their reserves and then face closure.

It's time to resurrect that abandoned blog, get deadly serious about earning some fresh top-5 rankings on Google, do a complete makeover of the copy on your web pages to better engage with your audience today, rework and split-test your sales funnel(s)... in other words, make your online presence sparkle. If your website doesn't have an e-commerce component, adding the ability to sell online may be essential now.

The takeaway

What an opportunity to forge stronger relationships with the people we serve; create social connection instead of social distance. So let's put the kettle on, hop on Zoom or pick up the phone...


Cole Wiebe, direct response copywriter, Vancouver, BCCole Wiebe is a direct response copywriter, content writer and internet strategist. He began writing marketing copy in 1987 in the magazine industry. Cole also has 23 years of experience as a UX (user experience) web designer and developer.

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3 comments on “The Value of True Social Engagement”

  1. Love the tea video. Thanks for sharing this Cole.

    In the rush to automate our businesses, we've made them increasingly less personal. I agree that this is a much-needed wakeup call, particularly for companies that provide personalized services.

    1. Thanks Marilyn for the kind comment. I really connected with the tea story in the video.

      Years ago, I lived in the remote arctic hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. The population was only 700, and while walking to The Bay for supplies, it was common to receive several invitations to stop by later for tea. Conversations over tea were how the strong relationships in that small arctic community were built.

      When I read that some clever professionals are now holding virtual 'tea meetings' with their clients in self-quarantine, I felt compelled to create this post.

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