Defining what we mean by “Engagement”

In working with clients I’m often introducing them to the importance of engaging their customers or constituents through social media and other channels. We discuss examples of engagement, but when it comes to planning how they are going to engage, I find it helpful to focus our initial creative brainstorming with a clear definition.

What are we talking about when we say “engagement,” “engaging a community” and planning an “engagement campaign”?

Below is what I’ve come up with so far. What do you think? Is this right? Wrong? What am I missing or forgetting about? At the very least, I hope it is helpful to share what I mean when I use these terms.

Prompting, listening, mirroring and acting in answer to what is heard

Example: You walk into a clothing store and here’s what happens:

  1. Salesperson approaches, asks what you are looking for today (prompts).
  2. You tell him you are looking for a red sweater (salesperson listens).
  3. Salesperson repeats “A red sweater. Were you thinking of a cardigan or a pullover?” (mirrors, prompts)
  4. You say “Pullover” (salesperson listens)
  5. Sales person shows you to a display of pullover sweaters, saying “We have some nice red pullovers here,” picks out a red one for you to consider. (mirrors and acts to answer your specific desire)

Community Engagement
Engagement in a group setting in which roles of prompter, listener and mirrorer, and answering actor rotate among the members of the group. A facilitator prompts individuals in the group to take on one or another of these roles to advance the conversation and keep the roles moving. The facilitator also moves the overall discussion through the stages of engagement with appropriate prompts that signal to participants a new frame for the discussion.

Engagement Campaign
For each engagement campaign, we want to consider:

  • When does the campaign begin and end?
  • Who are the campaign’s participants?
  • Which engagement channels will be used?
  • What engagement collateral needs to be created?
  • What is the “story arc” for the engagement and what are the change points that divide it into stages?
  • Which objectives and goals of the company, organization or project does this campaign advance?

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3 Responses to Defining what we mean by “Engagement”
  1. […] A few weeks ago, I offered my definition of engagement, which consisted of four steps: Engagement = Prompting, listening, mirroring and acting in answer to what is heard […]

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