Engagement is not only a matter of social media

By Gilles Reeb, co-founder and Strategy Director at Uzful

Over the last few years, engagement has become the ultimate craze in marketing departments. The reason? It’s often presented as the solution to every brand’s issues and above all, many consider that the only channel where it manifests is social media.

Engagement has quickly become the community manager’s responsibility, which gave the rest of the company a good excuse not to feel concerned about the topic and to avoid any attempt for some change.

To drive home this point, all social web giants claim that engagement is their very own business.

The problem is that many brands have a decent engagement on their Facebook page while having at the same time undeniable business difficulties. So, maybe engagement is not only a matter of social media.

You can no longer say you didn’t know.

Let’s be straightforward: the engagement sold by social platforms like Facebook is, best case scenario, the consequence of the real engagement a brand can generate. And it’s a good thing, because a relationship of dependency with the platform would be hazardous. In most cases, this social media engagement is just an illusion, a way to find reassurance on our capacity to be engaging. This perception issue is a major danger for brands today! By applying the social web players and communication agencies’ rules, they paradoxically move away from their consumers and miss their true social revolution.

Engagement is a key and complex notion

Although its definition can seem abstract, it’s important to understand what engagement is before heading to stimulate or provoke it. Engagement is an attitude, an emotional state that positively connects a person to a brand. This attitude can be the result of various factors, as we will see below with the Engagement Matrix. It includes all the signals generated by the brand, whether they’re part of the consumer journey or not. This detail is far from insignificant: engagement is the consequence of the global experience proposed by the brand. Besides, non-commercial signals such as the company’s social and environmental policies, quality of customer care or even the reputation of its leaders take a growing part in building this experience. Again, social media can play a role in those questions but engagement really takes its roots at a strategic level, more precisely at a governance level.

8 factors to develop engagement

Engagement is a mix of individual or collective levers, techniques to involve people and excellence. For that, it requires a plural and global approach that should be directly connected to the company’s governance. We classified those “levers to engagement” into 8 factors with which a company can apprehend engagement.

Those factors are compiled into a visual matrix. This design enables the user to determine the engagement potential of a company but also helps the identification of other available levers. Finally, it makes it easier for the brand or its partner agencies to prioritize and coordinate the required actions to set up.

This model shows the 8 factors’ complementarity while also pointing their independance.

The most engaging brands happen to perform well on the 8 levers but focusing on just one lever is a good way for a brand to start building engagement from scratch. Such is the case of Captain Train, a successful french made train ticket booking platform, which strategy is solely focused on user satisfaction and social intelligence.

A pragmatic approach to engagement

Each one of the matrix’s 8 pillars is defined by 3 angles that mark off the pillar’s scope and sharpen its meaning. More concretely, “Collaboration” is about the company’s capacity to open to third parties, its agility and its ecosystem approach (tendency to work as an ecosystem instead of working behind closed doors). We defined those 24 orientations in the white paper in French, “The little manifesto for Engagement” (“Le petit manifeste de l’engagement”) published in July 2015.

The matrix is just the tip of the iceberg: companies need to match means with ambitions by triggering actual levers. Whether they’re specific of its culture or generic, they can help develop performance, hence its publics’ engagement. These levers are of various natures: a new function, processes, tools, methodologies, management approaches. In fact, any change that can have a positive impact on the company’s result and on the key factors of engagement must be considered as a potential lever. Let’s keep up with the “Collaboration” example: a corporate social network, an official intrapreneurship policy or a co-creation program with key partners can help position the company as more engaging.

We have identified one key factor that generates market engagement. It is the companies’ creativity in the marketing strategy field, whether they are in the new or the older economy. Each company which intends to hence its consumers engagement can either get inspiration from those best practices or develop its own approach. The most important point is to be reactive and to constantly test the levers that seem the most suitable for initiating a change.

The Engagement Matrix designed by Uzful