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Idea: Go for a Week Without Using the Word “Engagement”

The great American linguist Homer Simpson once observed about the term schadenfreude, “Boy, those Germans have a word for everything.”

Unfortunately, those of us who speak the language of marketing often do the opposite: We come up with a word that can mean everything. Rather than help us communicate, these multi-definition, ambiguous words often result in miscommunication. One current example is “engagement.” We marketers love the word so much, we use it throughout the day.

Engagement is an important concept because it represents all those interactions that happen along a customer’s journey with a brand. However, when we ask groups of marketers for their content strategy or social media goals, more often than not, their answers include the term “customer engagement.” Sounds great, we’ll admit. But what exactly do they mean by customer engagement? And how does one measure it? We often hear answers about likes, follows and comments.

In a recent article on the Harvard Business Review‘s website, Greg Satell suggested that brand marketers learn a lesson from the long-journey, brand-building model found in magazine publishing. The model is focused on a recurring distribution of content aimed at creating a long-term relationship with a brand the customer grows to trust.

“(Don’t) start with implementation ideas, such as social media or a video,” Satell writes. “That would be like John F. Kennedy proposing his man-to-the-moon idea by focusing on rocket technology, rather than America’s aspirations for the space age. Start by figuring out what you have to offer the world. Most companies usually actually do have quite a bit to offer but get bogged down because they haven’t identified their mission.”

In other words: Don’t confuse the long-term goal of marketing with the word “engagement.” Likes, follows and comments are not your company’s mission. Engagement is one small step for man. Your goal should be a giant leap for mankind.

(Photo: NASA)

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