Digital brand engagement

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Due to the way the Internet is fast evolving, especially through the social web and social media, there is now a plethora of digital channels which can be used to hold a dialogue between a Brand and a Consumer, or groups of consumers. Digital brand engagement is brand engagement with a key focus on communication via the web. The Cluetrain Manifesto written by four visionaries in 1999 (which is now a very long time ago) predicted the Internet would evolve to a point where the consumer holds the "power" and no longer could the corporate world continue to communicate to their markets (the people they wish to interact with) in a push marketing or broadcast manner. How right they were. The Internet has evolved and people/consumers can now be very selective about which brands they choose to interact with; and have the ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings globally. Such mediums on the social web including blogs, micro-blogs, forums, social networks, groups within social networks, bookmarking sites, imagery and video sites can all be utilised by consumers; and they are doing just this in their thousands.

Brands can take notice of what is being said about them, their product or service by monitoring conversations taking place outside of their own website, through "buzz monitoring" tools and there are a number of tools to choose from. The value of the information provided is proportional to the time and expertise dedicated to configuring and analysing the data provided. This value can be increased further when the buzz monitoring data is correlated with onsite web analytics data. It's important to listen and observe the buzz, and analyse its impact prior to engaging.

The key elements to consider when listening and observing, before formulating a digital engagement strategy, are:

People/Consumer Who are they? What are their values? What motivates them? How do they behave?
Location Where are they? Are they just an Observer? Are they a Participant? Or are they Active Contributor?
Influence Reach of conversation? Authority of dialogue and site? Volume and amount of buzz? Sentiment - (positive, negative, neutral)?
Brand Association Are they inquisitive and looking for info? Are they about to commit to the Brand? Are they loyal brand advocates? Are they brand opponents?

Once you have an overview of what the current brand/consumer situation is online, you are far better informed to create an engagement strategy. The information above will provide a "Factual" position as it is based upon what people are actually doing and saying. There is another level of research that can be carried out which adds a "Predictive" element. i.e. undertake some consumer testing prior to implementing and engagement approach. Typically, and traditionally this is carried out in a conscious level manner of research, such as focus groups, surveys and interviews. However, it is becoming recognised that conscious level research on its own can be flawed, as it is based upon the assumption that people are prepared to and are able to articulate what they are think on all levels. Therefore a combination of research at the conscious and unconscious level is recommended.

Having obtained meaningful and valuable information from all the research and analysis, the time should now be right to start formulating the digital engagement strategy. In order to put some structure and process around this, the following approach is recommended, although there may be other methods which can be used.[1][2]

People/Consumer Create virtual representative consumer groups Understand why they need your brand Outline what aspects of the brand appeal to them Create content that has a value to each group
Location Be present and available in the relevant online areas Be visible and offer free information Provide a platform/mechanism for interaction Engage with them observing the right etiquette
Influence Prioritise the key influences Stimulate inter consumer dialogue Provide status and recognition for influencers Address negative comments by helping
Brand Association Maximise your advocacy into creating interest Encourage inter consumer dialogue to minimise risk of commitment Reward your advocates and people loyal to your brand Reduce brand opponency where possible

The other key area to consider is full integration with "offline" brand engagement/marketing strategy. To maximise the returns, these need to be full synchronised and complementary. Typically, offline marketing can be used to drive online interaction. Encouraging people to communicate with the brand.

Digital Engagement Initiatives[edit]

Companies are evolving their customer-centric approach by implementing the types of social media strategies that increase the level and quality of engagements. These initiatives are playing an important role in helping to analyze behavior and create strategies that are based on the customers’ actual preferences. As these benefits are realized, more companies have become serious about their social media efforts and have moved past the “wait and see” stage into the full adoption of the technology.

Companies have also moved beyond using digital engagement to simply measure and monitor customer conversations. These companies are now using customer ideas to improve products and services. They are also looking for ways to increase engagement even further by creating custom communities and incentive programs.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marketing IT: What to Understand Before Asking IT for “All” the Data". marketingpower.com. American Marketing Association. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Digital Analysis". onlineoptimism.com. Online Optimism. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Listening and Engaging in the Digital Marketing Age