This next section provides a conceptual starting point in understanding how the critical activities of engagement and response are enabled through the adoption of social technology and supporting processes. Beware: It’s a different viewpoint than that which applies to “engagement” in traditional media. Engagement is redefined by consumers when acting in an open, participative social environment.
This is a very different context than the “read-only” setting in which traditional media defines “engagement,” so take the time here to understand the four stages of engagement. Engagement on the Social Web means customers or stakeholders become participants rather than viewers. It’s the difference between seeing a movie and participating in a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
The difference is participation. Engagement, in a social business sense, means your customers are willing to take their time and energy and talk to you—as well as about you—in conversation and through processes that impact your business. They are willing to participate, and it is this participation that defines engagement in the context of the Social Web.
Web and Engagement
The engagement process is, therefore, fundamental to successful social marketing and to the establishment of successful social business practices. Engagement in a social context implies that customers have taken a personal interest in what you are bringing to the market. In an expanded sense, this applies to any stakeholder and carries the same notion:
A personal interest in your business outcome has been established. This applies to customers, to partners, to employees, to anyone and everyone who can express and share an opinion or idea somewhere along your path to market. Consider the purchase funnel shown in Figure 1.1.
As customer conversations enter the purchase cycle in the consideration phase of the sales process, there is a larger implication: Your customer is now a part of your marketing department. In fact, your customers and what they think and share with each other form the foundation of your business or organization.