How Brands Define Engagement

“What is the strategy behind this campaign?” we often ask brand managers we interview for stories. “The strategy is to engage consumers,” is the all-too-common response. But what exactly does that mean?  Digiday reached out to agency and brand execs, asking them for their definition of engagement.

Linda Boff, global executive director of digital, advertising and design, GE
In the social context at GE, engagement is the discovery and exchange of shared values and interests.

Scott Gulbransen, director of social business strategy, H&R Block
It depends. Even on Facebook, the answer depends. And I am not saying that as a cop out. When you take a serious look at KPIs for what we do in those channels, we are thinking about people reacting or conversing. But then there are other things, like, are we reducing costs in customer support? People get caught up in ROI, but they don’t realize they can cut costs, and that’s just as important. So I am going to say that engagement and ROI depend on the particular program. For our marketing campaigns, engagement may mean likes, or shares or comments. But then for our educational series, views may be the engagement. The metrics continue to solidify over time, and there is no one answer to all programs.

Jay Henderson, director of strategy, IBM
I think of engagement as representing two-way communication between a brand and consumers. In the past, companies treated customers as passive recipients of their marketing messages. First, the digital revolution and, now, the social revolution have created the opportunity for customers to be more actively involved in marketing campaigns. This is moving brands away from “bullhorn” marketing tactics to creating two-way dialogues. Today, brands can listen more effectively to customers and, as a result, deliver a more informed and tailored marketing message. Moreover, there is huge opportunity for marketers to extend the reach of their marketing campaigns by encouraging customers to share their purchases, their experiences, and their likes — making a good customer not just those who transact, but also those who share. Marketers’ goals haven’t changed — they still need to drive awareness, create brand preference and, ultimately, drive transactions. Measuring these outcomes in the context of customer engagement can also be a great leading indicator for customers.

Matt Rednor, vp of global strategy and analytics, MRY
Engagement is any action a consumer takes with your content. It’s a like, view, comment or share. Social success should be based on the most valuable engagement, sharing and the earned reach that it generates around a key message.

Pat Stern, chief creative officer, iCrossing
Engagement is all about connectedness, or creating a closer relationship with your audience. Brands can be engaging by creating compelling ideas and useful content that people want to share. Many brands measure engagement by using metrics such as page views and dwell time. But we think the true sign of engagement is if the audience is sharing and discussing your content across the online and offline worlds, whether via Facebook posts, Twitter or at a cocktail party, for that matter. Content doesn’t need to be high-concept to be engaging; useful content can as engaging as pithy slogans or entertaining videos.

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock