Am I the only 20-something woman that hears the word “engagement” and doesn’t think of a big, shiny diamond ring? Google certainly makes me think so. Though searching for the word turns up over 85 million results, there was a lone result on the first page that didn’t try to push a ring or wedding planning on me, it took me to page 9 to get a definition (“emotional involvement or commitment”) and even Wikipedia failed me.
Though we could probably debate all night about whether engagement (outside the context of a wedding) really matters, to what degree and who really cares, I am taking the position that it should be a top priority for any business – for profit or nonprofit. Since there are plenty of experts (or “experts”) that have written more about it than I ever will, here is some of what others are saying about “engagement,” followed of course by my own thoughts. What do you think?
- Jeremiah Owyang: “Engagement indicates the level of authentic involvement, intensity, contribution, and ownership…Attention + Interaction + Velocity + Authority + Relevant Attributes (variable).” I like the use of the word “ownership” as this seems to be the ultimate goal of a marketer both metaphorically and literally.
- Chris Kenton: “What does that really deliver to the marketer? I think it’s important and an intuitive metric, but what does it really get to, ultimately? Does it tell us about influence? Does it tell us about reach? Or does it tell us about the vibrancy of dialog?” These are some great questions Chris raises about ROI.
- Eric Peterson: “Engagement is an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction on the site against a clearly defined set of goals…I believe the visitor engagement measurement to be perhaps the most important of all ‘Web Analytics 2.0′ measurements.” Eric measures this, in my own words, by what the user sees, how recently, how often and how long.
- Peter He: “Engaging user [is] the first step of providing good user experience. For a content site, content is still the king, but user experience is the king maker.” Another great point here because content alone can’t make the user read, value or pass it along to friends.
- Tom Chandler: “Engaged readers don’t delete your e-mails and RSS feeds — they seek them out. That’s because Engagement Marketing isn’t about ‘cutting through the clutter.’ It’s about creating an affinity for your brand based on your customer’s values and passions.”
- Yulia Smirnova: “My understanding of engagement is experiencing an emotion and acting on it – expressing it, reflecting on it and sharing it with others.”
- Avinash Kaushik: “Engagement is not a metric that anyone understands and even when used it rarely drives the action / improvement on the website.” Though he goes on to say how to measure something like engagement, the first step being key: “Step One: Define why your website exists. What is its purpose? Not a five hundred word essay, rather in fifteen words or less. If it helps complete this statement: ‘When the crap hits the fan the only purpose of my website is to…’”
- Robert Scoble: “So, why should engagement matter to an advertiser? Well, as an advertiser I want to talk to an audience who’ll actually DO something. Yeah, I’m hoping to get a sale.” A bit narrow in the world of web 2.0 and nonprofit marketing, but who am I to argue with the only guy to appear first on search results and have his own Wikipedia page?
- Ali Cherry: For me, there are two truths when it comes to engagement: we all want it and there is no one way. You want your employees to be engaged so they want to come to work and put in the effort to deliver a good product. You want your partner to be engaged (why else would you have gotten “engaged” – or hope to one day?) And you want your customers, clients or constituents to be engaged so that they have an emotional commitment to your brand, product or service. But for every situation engagement means something different. I think the key is defining it up front and planning how to get there – whether that means one-on-one lunches with the CEO, long talks and romantic dinners or a helpful interactive experience at your store or on your website. Here’s an interesting chart on online engagement indicators.