The term engagement is being used to frame how brands can use the social web to engage their audience. On the other side of the term “engagement” is methods used by people to engage people in relevant and relative conversations. So on one side of the term engagement we have marketers and on the other side we have people.

What Kind of Engagement?

The term engagement, used as a noun, means:

an appointment or arrangement
A pledge; an obligation or agreement
an encounter, conflict or battle

Given these definitions one must wonder which type of engagement do people and organizations seek. As marketers continue to use the term “engagement” and use the social web to do so the question on most people's mind is “an engagement for what?”. An appropriate question we ought to ask.

Is it Engagement Marketing?
Everyone seems to be using social media as a marketing tool rather than a relational tool. There is a big difference between the two. “This is the way things are going, says Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. “Banner ads aren’t going to cut it,” he says. “And media companies have not been creative or aggressive about making products designed for engagement marketing. Now that’s changing, giving brand advertisers a new way and reason to buy.”

While the social web certainly enhances the practices of marketing most individuals using the web aren’t looking for marketing messages rather the intent of using the web is to find or create value. Now that doesn’t mean the offerings being pushed out in “social messages” don’t offer value rather it means that relational messages get better responses than marketing messages.

What Is The Intent of Engaging?
Marketing methods of the past reflected the process of deliberately enticing a person to engage in some sort of exchange, buy this.
The social web has become the place by which people and organizations try and seduce us into an exchange. The word seduction stems from
Latin and means literally “to lead astray.”

Most people would tell you that the purpose of engaging with others is to converse, learn and get to know one another. That being said just maybe the real value that can be created by using social media is to “converse, learn and be relational”. The problem is that most business mindsets do not think in terms of relational rather they think in terms of results.

On-line and off-line success comes from serving the interest of others.

Results come from service.

There is plenty of opportunity to serve if you are listening and learning correctly. To serve however you must have a presence which reflects your intent in the marketplace waiting to be served.

How Do You Measure Intent?
Engaging in the marketplace of conversations has become main stream, expected and simply the new market of how markets should operate. Since the process is still new many are trying to apply old methods and old thinking with the ability to engage with many for difference purposes. Markets are now trying to measure the benefit of engagement and screaming for an ROI on the investment of time and expense.

The irony of current behaviors is that the intent is transparent. Marketers want to produce results from us and don’t realize how transparent their intent is to the new marketplace. Intent is the real measurement of effective engagement and the measure of intent is reflected by how well you serve the market of interest.

How would you measure intent?

The Relationship Economy, Jay Deragon

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