Engagement and deeper connection in social networks, a dialogue with Jaume Fortuny

What? Do I smell something new?

This will not be your typical KM for me & you post. Instead, it’s an idea of Jaume Fortuny (and see his Twitter profile as Jaume’s a terrific and prolific tweeter) which we have gently pushed forward to shape it up into an online conversation that we wish to continue here rather than just among us two (narrating our work life, right?).

The engagement pyramid (credits - FogFish)
The engagement pyramid (credits – FogFish)

The crux of this conversation: how to generate and maintain engagement on social media? In more details, what makes a person follow another person online and keep on doing so over time? Jaume is a regular follower of this blog and it’s time to address you as ‘You’ indeed 🙂

As I told you in our email conversation, I rather approach engagement from the side of social engagement (as in this really excellent resource about youth engagement) and I have blogged about the engagement happy families, engagement in facilitation and how KM can drive more engagement in comms etc.) but never in the way that you portrayed.

You seem to say that there are factors attracting people to a given blog, either aspirations about spreading interesting information or perhaps even improving peoples’ lives. Depending on peoples’ interests, they are attracted to a given blog (or any other social media for that matter but let’s talk about ‘blogs’ for the sake of the conversation) because of its focus and how the content on that blog is crafted. But that is only the first step.

The second step is to make sure that people remain interested in that blog. You suggest this happens through (as a blogger) inviting interaction, displaying humility and kindness, showing that you care for reciprocation. You also suggest that over time, some other incentives help maintain this engagement: recognition, meeting face to face and establishing a physical (i.e. non virtual) bond, rewarding and motivating the person following the blog.

Finally you mention that you also have ‘a gang of people’ that you follow and with whom you entertain engagement over time without waiting for any return.

This is all really interesting to hear and I have a few questions for you – either generic or related to our interactions around this blog:

  • What do you find ‘turn-offs’ (repulsive behaviours) on the blogs and in the people that you follow regularly?
  • To what extent does the content and the content type (e.g. using different media) weigh in compared with the personality of the blogger and the relationship s/he has with their followers?
  • Which posts on this blog have you particularly liked but more importantly why?
  • Do you follow people in their social network ecosystem or around one specific platform?
  • Do you think this engagement is susceptible to change over time with different people and how does this happen?
  • Is there a point for bloggers to specifically invite their audience/readers/followers/friends to react either via surveys or specifically prompting them via e.g. Twitter and other social networks?
  • What do you hope to achieve – if anything – with the people that you engage with more thoroughly and what can make it happen?

I also would like to say that for me, having people like you engaged over time and really following, re-sharing, questioning, reflecting is really great. It’s what helps me get a sense of direction and relevance from this blog. My blog has a niche focus with a likely limited audience, so any feedback is really great and is one of the reasons why I blog after all.

Engagement between social network connections is not a topic I really paid much conscious attention to so far, yet it is the currency of our networked age and a real zeitgeist signpost. Good that you woke me up to it Jaume! I look forward to the next round of this conversation to go deeper in our mutual exploration and understanding. Thank you for your excellent suggestion, and thank you for your engagement, as ever!

Related blog posts:


Published by Ewen Le Borgne

Collaboration and change process optimist motivated by ‘Fun, focus and feedback’. Nearly 20 years of experience in group facilitation and collaboration, learning and Knowledge Management, communication, innovation and change in development cooperation. Be the change you want to see, help others be their own version of the same.

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  1. Hello Jaume,

    Thank you for the reply and sorry for the late response from my end. I’m almost on holiday and had a crazy week of workshops.

    Interesting comment you make about mobile networks, as this is indeed a limitation – certainly now – and I haven’t paid much attention to this until now, although we can safely expect that over the next 2 to 3 years we’ll be able to process pretty heavy content on ever-smarter phones…

    What your message suggests to me however is that:
    a) I should pay attention to mobile users and display a warning message of sorts when I’m embedding heavy content in my posts.
    b) Similarly, I should mention it upfront when the content of the blog post is going to be (much) longer than on average. That is why I started the collection of ‘shoot’ posts (https://km4meu.wordpress.com/category/type-of-posts/shoot-post/): to write shorter posts. In practice this has proven difficult and I tend to now write my short bits of ideas and draft blog posts on http://ewenlb.tumblr.com/

    Thanks again for your engagement – the conversation continues, though I may not be able to respond to it before a couple of weeks…


  2. Hi Ewen,

    The type of content limits me. Especially because I make a high use of mobility networks, and the coverage and capacity/speed of these networks are rather poor in my area. So contents with high bandwidth requirements, compel me to consume them in a very specific times of the day (where I can access at high speed networks)

    All things being equal, length is critical. The brief contents can be consumed at any time (either read, watched and/or listened). If the contents have to be consumed in a time greater than 5 minutes, are conditioned to have an exclusive space of time for them. And in these cases contents should worth it really.



  3. Hello Jaume,

    Thank you, sounds like ‘blog good and be good’, with a higher margin of error / forgiveness if a personal rapport exists.
    I wonder if you have any observation on the content type. Do you like to follow blogs that have a variety of content e.g. podcasts, pictures, videos, presentations, drawings… What makes the use of multimedia content interesting to you?

    Thanks for you engagement – the conversation continues 🙂

  4. Picking up the thread, I will answer the second question posed:

    To what extent does the content and the content type (e.g. using different media) weigh in compared with the personality of the blogger and the relationship s/he has with their followers?

    This question asks whether the fund is more important than the manners (or otherwise). I have given part of this answer to the first question (you arrive by the fund but remain/leave by the manners). I think that, when you do not know the person, the content is the bait to get the engagement. And this is even more true when we are talking about the blogs where we arrive via a search engine, for example. Somehow the contents are more important.

    But when you know the person, (both in real life and through social networks), the things change. By affinity or by sympathy, you can follow someone despite “the contents”. Strictly speaking, this is not an absolute truth. If you know the person, you have an idea of her/his personality. And probably draws you some aspect of which s/he speaks and gives opinion in the network. You could say that, knowing the blogger, content haven’t so much importance.

    Note that, as in one case as in the other, which ends up being important is the personality and the relationship with the blogger.

    Taking an idea set out in the answer to the first question: However good the content is, the engagement will be won / lost because of the way of being and the way of doing of the blogger.

  5. Hello Jaume,

    Indeed there might be other people listening to us here, and they may form different opinions, and that’s all fine. One thing I’ve learnt over time is really to let go of the idea of control (still not perfect in application ha ha ha) and that certainly applies to how people take ideas and use them. Kindalike the debates about e.g. a series on serial killers which might give some ideas for people to become serial killers themselves. I don’t really buy it to start with but even if it happened, the people behind the series are not responsible for what some maniacs take out of it…

    Luckily here we’re just talking about social networking and serial blogging 😉
    Looking forward to your other answers and the conversation continues…

  6. Ewen, a quick answer to this question:

    Yes, I’ve stopped to follow people whom I dislike on personal or emotional level. But the funny thing is that in most of the cases, this dislike came from the answers to others. I developed a kind of empathy with other followers of supposed “gurus” and the replies to the comments of the followers, impacted on me, too.

    The social conversation has a multidimensionality we can not ignore. One might think that, as now, we are having a conversation 1-to-1. But in fact, our written words are read by other people, who take a different view of us by what we say and by how we express ourselves. And through that, we are being classified (and we are appreciated or maybe ignored).


  7. Hello Jaume,

    Thank you for your reply! Fascinating that the tone of exchanges between you and people you follow is one of the central elements influencing your engagement. Have you been in the situation of following people whom you enjoyed intellectually but disliked on a personal, emotional level?

    You are making another interesting observation that bloggers have to prune the ecosystem of comments to keep interesting stuff at the top. I suppose most bloggers do that but perhaps not systematically and consciously.
    I also agree that the frequency of posting can be a hurdle or even a turn-off. For me that’s why I check a lot of blogs via RSS Feeds on my mobile phone, whenever I get some down time.

    I look forward to the next iteration. There are different ways to do this. For the time being we could keep this exchange via comments. Perhaps as you elaborate on all remaining questions I could answer it all in one blog post again indeed. And at any rate it might be good, after this exchange is concluded, to write one blog post summarising all aspects of our discussion to shed some light from our exchange for bloggers and blog followers.

    Keep up the dialogue – at your soonest convenience…


  8. Dear Ewen,

    First of all, my apologies to enter so late in the discussion. Those who are dedicated to technological issues, sometimes we have to turn off fires and the time fades in our hands. But, by golly, the engagement made me priorize the answer to your questions before anything else, when, as now, I have a little time.

    I will answer to the questions you pose one by one, for leaving space for the participation of other followers of the blog.

    Let’s go for the first one:
    What do you find ‘turn-offs’ (repulsive behaviours) on the blogs and in the people that you follow regularly?

    I started to explain that I do not follow people neither blogs written with disdain against people, facts or events. I’m more interested in thoughtful opinions and in the accurate information. Therefore, there is a initial choice. I get to the blog by the thematic interest, but I could leave it by the shape and tone of the writing.

    I also look at how the blogger responds to comments. I am more critical on the treatment to the person making the comments rather than the time the blogger takes to answer. Perhaps the engagement itself, make me forgive the delay of the blogger. But due to the “dominance position” of the blogger, I don’t tolerate disrespect towards the person that writes or towards of what he writes.

    Another thing is the disgusting behavior that can have a blog visitor. Some people, from the anonymity, try to discredit and destroy. In these cases, I appreciate cleaning the comments. Otherwise, the noise prevents others to follow threads. And if the visitor enters in the realm of insults and discrediting or just spam, is a requirement to remove the comments of the blog visitor. If blogger permits “noise”, is a reason for “disengagement”.

    Finally, we can talk about the cadence (yes it can be a “turn-off”, too). Neither too much nor too little. As for blogs that I follow, weekly is reasonable. Allows better interaction. But daily, (or even more than once a day) may overwhelm.

    As in the case of microblogging, is difficult to follow people who tweets in a “buffer mode” (I mean with a lot of tweets programmed at the same time). As I am a very curious person and I tend to read all tweets of the lists I follow, it makes me feel overwhelmed, even when tweeps are interesting (I think this is why I have self-limited with tweeter)



    P.S.: Since this is the (long) answer to the first question, what if we convert the set of questions/answers to several individual posts?

  9. Hello Joitske,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. In the vast majority of cases I have a similar experience as you do, but there are a couple of people I have a (bilateral or unilateral) relationship that is deeper, as I comment or share their content even more and occasionally chat with them. The exploration with Jaume is not so much a trip down ego-logy lane but rather an interesting detour around what motivates people to explore a connection beyond the content. In the networked world where engagement is the currency it seems an interesting detour to take.



  10. Hi Ewen,

    I typically find that I have different kind of blogs in my RSS reader – some are from people I know and I try to read those to keep up to date and feel sorry when I unfollow them (and I do not to get too many blogs). But the majority are blogs I read because of the content and I scan them. It is not so much a relationship with the blogger, but scanning the blogs for interesting information/ point of view.

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