The Petri Dish of Social Engagement

by Jay Deragon on 09/23/2013

female-lab-assistant-petri-dish-test-tube-14907849The term “engagement” is the popular mantra from the market preached by authors, marketing gurus and the new Kool-Aid drink of the social promise land. Businesses are discussing the meaning of engaged employees and how to engage customers as if engagement was suddenly this new intangible discovery never considered as part of a relationship. The web has become the petri dish of social engagements for brands.

Engagement has become the new label for 21st century sales and marketing techniques using social technology to improve results.  The tools for engagement and the participants are being studied in the petri dish of online social experiments by millions of business everyday. People, also known as stakeholders, are being studied and tested daily to decide which stimulus creates the proper response for an engagement.  The studies are revealing what people already knew.

Organizations are awakening to the value of an engaged workforce.  A Gallup Poll study of workplaces including 1.4 million employees showed:

  • Organizations with high engagement have 22 percent higher productivity
  • Highly engaged organizations have double the success rate of lowly engaged ones
  • Companies in the top quarter of engagement report lower absenteeism and turnover
  • Highly engaged business units report 48 percent fewer safety incidents
  • Highly engaged business units report 41 percent fewer defects

But it doesn’t end there. Jim Harter, a chief scientist at Gallup Research, added some texture to those numbers, saying that:

  • Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant.
  • They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise
  • They personally “own” the result of their work and that of the organization
  • (They) re-create jobs so that each person has a chance to do what they do best
  • (They) help people see the connection between their everyday work and the larger purpose or mission of the organization

The issue is do organizations really understand what it means to engage people?  Did business leaders really need a study to understand the value of an engaged workforce?

If You Aren’t Engaging You Will Be Engaged

The other half of this story is about engaging customers. Everyone knows that social media  is influencing consumer opinions about brands, consumer buying experiences, companies and their leaders. More than a third of consumers say their opinions about brands and products shaped by social media.  Data shows that customers who are more than satisfied with the engagement process of an organization are 80% more likely to return (ex: Zippos’) than those who are not satisfied.  Customer engagement involves timeliness, friendliness, responsiveness to needs, relational touch points, value creation and delivering beyond expectations.

A day doesn’t go by without national news talking about how a major brand or business celebrity was significantly influenced by a story released by an individual’s tweet or post on Facebook. So while organizations may be chasing the engagement of buyers the fact is the behavior of an organization and  its leaders are now influenced by the conversations and stories shared by its stakeholders.

So why do so many companies have problems with engagement? Because engagement, whether involving employees or customers (people), is yet another intangible thing that doesn’t fit into the tried and true measurement metrics of the 20th century frameworks of business.  Engagement is part of intangible capital which is what smarter companies focus on in the 21st century.

Engagement is a natural thing people do, It is not natural for institutions who don’t understand that value creation starts and ends with people.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: