Engagement is central to the effective use of social technology and the creation of social business. Unlike traditional media and the business processes of selling based on it, social technologies push toward collaboration rather than exposure and impression.
In the first wave of social technology—social media and the rise of personal activities (e.g., friending) that occurred on the Social Web, collaboration between consumers took off as they recognized that by sharing experiences they could (collectively) make better purchase decisions. In the context of social business, the process of engagement is expanded to include not only the collaborative activity that occurs between customers, but also the activities that connect the business with its customers as well as those that connect the employees inside the business, where this connectivity fosters sharing and collaboration so that employees may more effectively respond to customers’ needs.
The social engagement process moves customers and similar participants in brand, product, or service-related conversations beyond the act of consumption (reading an article about a product, for example) and toward the shared act of working together (customers alongside employees) to collaborate and produce an experience that improves over time.
Following a methodology practiced at 2020 Social, a firm I am associated with in New Delhi, the upcoming sections present a set of fundamental “social action” building blocks (shown in Figure 1.2) that make it easy to step through the engagement process of tapping customer conversations and turning them into useful insights. These insights give rise to a systematic process for moving customers to increasingly engaged states.
These foundational blocks lead to and support a ladder-type engagement model with customer collaboration—not simply content consumption—as the end point. As such, they are useful in understanding the various ways in which technologies and strategies can be combined to drive smart tactical, business-building processes in both marketing and operations.