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In the Social Age, Don't Advertise, Engage
The advent of the internet heralded the start of sweeping changes to the way in which businesses interact with consumers.
Traditionally, brands would deliver a message to consumers in the hopes of influencing their buying decisions. But the internet has changed the playing field by putting control of what consumers see into their own hands. And what people don't want to see is advertising, spam and blatant marketing.
Consumers are finding what they want easier, and learning how to avoid what they don't want better. If your business is going to thrive, it is critical that you recognize this and adapt.
Traditional advertising is a one-way street that delivers a message to an audience. The more an organization can expose themselves to potential consumers, the more likely they will see returns. But there are significant drawbacks to this method, not least of which is that it's expensive, and people are very adept at filtering it out.
Engagement demands that you offer something of value to potential customers upfront.
The difference can be summed up like this: Advertising is designed to benefit the advertiser. Engagement is designed to benefit the consumer.
In other words, when we talk about engagement-based marketing, we are talking about offering something that people actually want. Returns come later, and is derived from the goodwill, authority and trust generated from that engagement. So how do we shift from advertising to engagement?
With a traditional advertising or marketing campaign, it's important to do a bit of research to find out who the target audience is, good ways to reach them and what message to deliver.
That's more or less where traditional marketing moves on to implementation. But for real engagement we need to change things up a bit: Who is the target audience? What do they need? How can we provide it? How do we monetize this engagement?
The second point is really the game changer because it represents a fundamental change in our approach. An engagement-based marketing strategy must hold intrinsic value for the consumer.
When I talk about value, in terms of the internet, it could be entertainment, information, instruction, guidance, support or pretty much anything else they would expend effort to find. This means we need to find out what customers are searching for, sharing and devoting time to online. For example, a beauty products company writing tips on how to look gorgeous.
Why not set up a blog or community resource with the goal of meeting this demand instead of adding to the general clutter of ads that everyone tries to avoid anyway?
Whatever your niche, and whatever gap you identify as a way to generate engagement, there is a long road ahead.