How and Why Do People Engage?

by Jay Deragon on 03/29/2009

How and Why Do People Engage?For years the brands have chased consumers and tried everything and anything to engage us.   Every kind of metrics for measuring methods of engagement have been developed and deployed all to justify the expense and effort behind these engagement initiatives.

In the old days every trick of the trade was used to capture eyeballs and attention to get us to provide user information, email addressed and to create an emotional response.

In the end we did in fact engage but only to be disappointed by the experience and sales hype that followed. Over promised and under delivered we took to blocking telemarketing calls, banner ads and spam email. Then we began to engage with each other.

Now that we are engaging with each other companies are still trying to figure out how to engage with us the way we engage with others. The social web has become a fertile ground for more attempts to engage us. Facebook, Linkedin and every social network on the planet is supported by advertising models with text and ad graphics vying for our attention.

Businesses are spending time and money trying to figure out how to engage customers and the mantra of the moment is “customer engagement”. Management consultants and marketing gurus are spinning and defining customer engagement as if it were yet another new phenomenon. According Wikipedia and the self appointed experts Online Customer Engagement (CE) refers to:

1. A social phenomenon enabled by the wide adoption of the internet in the late 1990s and taking off with the technical developments in connection speed (broadband) in the decade that followed. Online CE is qualitatively different from the engagement of consumers offline.

2. The behavior of customers that engage in online communities revolving, directly or indirectly, around product categories (cycling, sailing) and other consumption topics. It details the process that leads to a customer’s positive engagement with the company or offering, as well as the behaviors associated with different degrees of customer engagement.

3. Marketing practices that aim to create, stimulate or influence customer behavior. Although CE-marketing efforts must be consistent both online and offline, the internet is the basis of CE-marketing.(Eisenberg & Eisenberg 2006:72,81)

4. Metrics that measure the effectiveness of the marketing practices which seek to create, stimulate or influence CE behavior.

Is It Really Vendor Engagement?

Those who push the “Customer Engagement theme suggest that online customer engagement is qualitatively different from offline Customer Engagement as the nature of the customer’s interactions with a brand, company and other customers differ on the internet. Discussion forums or blogs, for example, are spaces where people can communicate and socialize in ways that cannot be replicated by any offline interactive medium.

The reason it is different is because it is the customer who decides which vendor to engage with, not the vendor deciding for the customer. The rise of online user generated content is taking advocacy to a much higher level.

Vendor Engagement enables people to respond to the fundamental changes in brand behavior that the internet has brought about, as well as to the increasing ineffectiveness of the traditional ‘interrupt and repeat’, broadcast model of advertising.

Due to the fragmentation and specialization of media and audiences, as well as the proliferation of community- and user generated content, businesses are increasingly losing the power to dictate the communications agenda. Instead the customer, people, are dictating the agenda.

Enabling the contributions of people (suppliers, employees and customers) is an important source of competitive advantage – whether through advertising, user generated product reviews, customer service FAQs, forums where people can socialize with one another or contribute to product development. However, If you want to engage people the first thing you have to do is recognize that your the vendor and the people you call customers are the ones now doing the engaging, not you.

For traditional markets the question is no longer “how will you engage” rather “how will you respond”.

What say you?


Johanna Llorente May 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

RT @JDeragon: How and Why Do People Engage?: For years the brands have chased consumers and tried everything and anything to e..

effective internet marketing uk December 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm

they played this in game and then slayed everybody LOL!

Amanda Santer November 4, 2009 at 6:13 am

With all this talk of Brands & engagement, a timely RT @JDeragon How and Why Do People Engage? The Relationship Economy

Michelle Di Rocco March 31, 2009 at 9:06 am

How & Why People Engage

Rick March 30, 2009 at 8:08 am

Say what you want and be as current with your marketing lingo and strategies as you’d like. The simple truth is nothing has changed whatsoever. Someone with something to sell is seeking someone who wants to buy it. Someone with a need is looking for someone to fulfill the need. Regardless of weather it is online, offline, or in your neighborhood it is finding a way to make the connection in a relevant, desirable and motivating way to move products and services. Word of mouth has always been there since Adam told Eve that the apple was good and to go ahead and take a bit of it. It’s just that no one in marketing, up until recently, had ever coined the phrase and put context to the idea that third party endorsements sell products more than any commercial could do. Although the mechanisms for social interaction are far greater than ever before, the principals are and will always remain the same.

David Phillips March 30, 2009 at 7:15 am

So now, at last we are beginning not to see relationships because they are there and extrapolating, we are beginning to ask what is the basis for relationships.

Those tokens and values that aid the evolution of a common bond are pretty important for PR and PR practice, markets and Marketing.

Who, one might ask is doing this kind of basic research?

MarciDesign March 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Reading:How and Why Do People Engage?

Business 3.0 Tech. March 29, 2009 at 1:37 pm

For years the brands have chased consumers and tried everything and anything to engage us. Great read!

Dale Lawrence March 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

“How and Why Do People Engage? | The Relationship Economy……”

Liana Miller March 29, 2009 at 9:56 am

RT @kdpaine How and Why Do People Engage?: — brilliant perspective!

Lyndsie March 29, 2009 at 9:12 am

RT @kdpaine: How and Why Do People Engage?: — brilliant perspective!

Bud March 29, 2009 at 8:53 am

@JDeragon “How will you respond” ain’t that the truth.

Sally Falkow March 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

RT @kdpaine How and Why Do People Engage?: — brilliant perspective!

Bob Collins March 29, 2009 at 7:33 am

RT @kdpaine How and Why Do People Engage?: — brilliant perspective!

Gerard McLean March 29, 2009 at 8:16 am

“The reason it is different is because it is the customer who decides which vendor to engage with, not the vendor deciding for the customer.”

This is not true at all. It is true that people BELIEVE they decide which brand to engage, but brands that do the most off-line marketing in the places where people are are the ones that receive the most engagement.

If I had a painkiller pill that cured back pain better than Motrin, but I had no distribution, no brand recognition, no shelf space at retail, etc. and I put out a “baby-wearing video” like Motrin did, would anyone engage my brand like they did Motrin? (motrinmoms) Of course they wouldn’t. Even if 1-2 people did, nobody would care, just like nobody really cares about my opinion in this comment. Except me. And my dog

Social Media people and online branding people think they have all this figured out, but it is the same model. Sure there are exceptions to every rule, sites that came out of nowhere (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc) but the Internet is LITTERED with me-too sites that provide the same of better tools that nobody is engaging. Why? Because all the real marketing is happening offline where people breathe real air and eat real food and touch one another in real life.

Sunny February 29, 2008 at 10:56 am

the first thing that occurs to me is that we all might find ourselves in the position of being a ‘vendor’, whether it be material goods, web related services, or even ideas…

i’m finding the idea that what I believe about the way ‘business’ gets done is now in my hands to be a bit overwhelming, as my only models have been the old school marketing strategies- “interrupt and repeat”, bait and switch, glitter, glitz, selling the sizzle, the list goes on… i guess this ‘new’ model of sales resembles the “Love Close” method of sales? (love your product, love your customer and you will be the world’s greatest salesman)

i have always been ‘put off’ by salesmen- ESPECIALLY when i perceive the sole basis of our relationship to hinge upon me buying from them- ever made a ‘friend’ who then proceeded to try to sell you Amway? and when you show yourself to be less than interested, they evaporate?

what i do like, however, is when i see a person (whom i have in some way verified to be a ‘real’ person), offering me an endorsement of a product/service which they have actually paid their own money for, tested rigorously, and as objectively as possible, presented their findings to me, (another ‘real’ person), much in the same way that you presented the Go Yo Deo product. i didn’t care for it, initially, but i do see it as relevant to the concept of personalizing the web, and may possibly look into this media for future products (i am a classic skeptic in sales- make a note of that).

all this to say: i find myself on the same learning curve as some of the ‘giants’ of Media, Industry, and Marketing… the difference is that i’m having fun. (yay fun !!) i think one way of saying it would be that it is no longer “us” and “them”… they are us, and as our numbers increase, we will always become them. it is exciting to think that i have a say in how this ‘new’ marketing/sales paradigm emerges.

here’s a link that i’m sure you and your readers will find informative:

omg- i just did it, didn’t i ??!! i’m commercing in social webbery !! wooo hooo !!

wow, long post… oh well- think of it as fan mail.


Sunny the Vendor

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