Engagement Baiting

How the rules of network engagement make for terrible engagements

Any entrepreneur or independent practitioner is likely to find that we stop networking at our peril. There’s a very good reason why networking exists. Especially in times of isolation like most of my communities — geographic, social, cultural, and professional — have been facing, connecting is good for the soul, the mind, and the heart. I learn and grow through my networks and connections to others.

It’s also one of those things that we need to do to keep ourselves visible and business viable. So for these reasons it really irks me when I feel I am getting used or manipulated to help others expand their network reach.

False Engagements

Lately, much more than before, I’ve noticed a lot of ‘engagement baiting’ among people who I respect — or at least did. Engagement baiting is what I refer to as posts to places like LinkedIn, Twitter, Slack — basically anywhere — that is written under the guise of a genuine question or interest in your thoughts and ideas, but really are there to up the engagement stats.

It’s about tagging people in posts or asking provocative questions and yet there is next to no follow-up, reaction, or any substantive dialogue that recognizes your willingness to respond to the provocation. If I ask you a question, I better listen to the answer even if I don’t agree with it. This is not that. It’s also not about those times when there genuinely is a provocative question where an answer is sought and tagging others is a way to ask people.

This is about using a question or provocation to intentionally elicit reactions and comments to help raise the profile of the post and the poster. It’s about driving the stats, building the likes, and raising the visibility of the post and poster on sites. Hell, LinkedIn actually sends prompts to me saying that if I want to raise my stats on any particular post, mention someone.

The thing is: once you ask me for my thoughts and can’t bother to acknowledge my response (because it’s all about harvesting them, not valuing them), you’ve lost me. You’ve wasted my time, but more importantly, you’ve wasted my attention, goodwill, and energy and dampened my trust.

And these days, that is the currency that’s worth more than any ‘like’.

Thanks for reading, Cameron

Photo by Anna Marie on Unsplash