There’s a new buzzword in social media marketing: engagement. In this case, though, there’s more to things than a trendy term. As it turns out, engagement really is the key to turning your social profiles into sales results.

It’s easy to see why: Racking up lots of fans and followers is simple, especially if you give away lots of your time and/or products for free. However, getting those same fans and followers to really listen to what you have to say and respond to your offers is a whole other matter. That’s where engagement comes in.

Unfortunately, building engagement through social media is a bit of a catch-22 proposition. That’s because, on the one hand, engaging people usually means going off the marketing script you might be used to following. Nobody feels heavily engaged in a series of blatant ads.

On the other hand, though, you don’t want to be too quirky or relaxed because the point of social media marketing is still to do a bit of actual marketing. In other words, it’s easy to take a “class clown” approach to social media that takes a lot of time but doesn’t accomplish anything.

So, how do you accomplish both of these simultaneously? The best answer is usually to have and use a bit of personality in your social profiles and updates, but also to begin your efforts with a game plan in place that keeps you on track over time.

It’s not easy to have fun with social media and still accomplish your marketing goals, but it gets easier with practice and the right starting strategy.