by Alejandro Gomez (@zemogalejo)
There’s no question about it: digital media has the power to create an ever growing audience that engages with your brand in a meaningful and continuous way, helping you connect more, promote more, sell more, and grow more.
With so many options on how to approach web, mobile and social media, both individually and integrally, how can we make sure we are extracting the greatest value possible out of these amazing platforms?
To answer this question, 5 attributes should be considered when defining any digital engagement strategy:
An effective digital media engagement lies at the intersection of these 5 attributes as illustrated below:
A very important reason why users engage with digital media is to use tools that make their lives easier. For example, people engage continuously with Google Maps to solve one basic problem: how do I get from point A to point B? Google Maps does a great job answering that question effectively, which makes it a very useful tool. For this reason, people engage with it (and implicitly with the Google brand) daily.
Consider identifying what specific problems your audience faces on a continuous basis that you can help solve through your core expertise and know-how. How can you make their lives easier? What problems can you help them solve? Answering these questions will give you the insight necessary to creatively define digital tools you can offer your audience for them to engage with your brand on an ongoing basis.
Another reason why users engage with digital media is to get informed and acquire knowledge. For example, people engage continuously with CNN.com to get informed on what is going on locally and globally; with Facebook to get informed on what is going on with their friends; and with how-to blogs to learn a new trait or technique. Users engage with them for educational reasons.
Identify what specific topics your audience needs and wants to learn about that you can help fulfill with your core expertise. What information can you provide that would interest your users on a regular basis? What trait or technique can you teach them? Answering these questions will allow you to identify content that you can offer your audience continually for them to engage with your brand regularly.
A great way to make your engagements entertaining is to “gamify” the experience. Wikipedia defines ”Gamification” as the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications, which is a technique that encourages desired behaviors by taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.”
Examples of “Gamification” techniques include achievement badges, levels, leader boards, and progress bars. For example, DevHub.com increased the number of users who completed their online tasks from 10% to 80% after adding gamification elements.
Consider learning and applying “Gamification” techniques to make your experiences entertaining, which will help you achieve greater and longer engagements with your audience.
Engagements become stronger when users can share their experiences with others. For example, WAZE is a free GPS application that provides real-time maps and traffic information based on the wisdom of the crowd. It allows users to play an active role reporting and documenting activity on the road with other users in the area. Similar to Google Maps, WAZE is a useful tool, but it is also social, which strengthens the engagement.
Being social is more than having a presence on major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Having presence is one thing, creating engagement is another. Think first how you want to engage with your audience (e.g. provide real-time maps and traffic information), think second how to make that engagement social (e.g. allowing users to report activity on the road).
People can access digital media from different devices like computers, phones, tablets and TVs that run different versions of different browsers running on different operating systems. Mobile devices have the ability to provide contextual information – time, place and emotions (through status updates) – that if leveraged correctly represent an opportunity to significantly strengthen the engagement.
Your primary goal with your digital media efforts is simple: build and grow an audience that you can engage with. If you have an audience to talk to, you have an audience to sell to. But the first step is to build your audience. How exactly? By offering tools to solve problems (usefulness); content to learn and grow (education); experiences that are joyful and fun (entertainment); ways to interact with others (social); any time and anywhere (accessible).