My good friend Charlie Weiss shared this with me. He developed what I call a “user engagement model” that was originally designed to convince some marketing execs at his software firm that marketing doesn’t always end with the purchase. I think it applies wonderfully to how we now look at social media as a brand development tool. It can also be applied to online community management.
The States of Engagement
These folks are not aware of your brand at all. For new or smaller brands, this is a state that you will be dealing with frequently, and will need to develop strategies to get them to the next step.
This is the point where a person becomes exposed to your product or brand. It could be that they read a review or editorial on it, heard about it from a friend, or just randomly stumbled upon it. It’s your job as a marketing and digital strategist to figure out all the ways your market can become exposed to your brand in positive ways.
The courtship begins. Here is where they’ve heard your pitch, and they’re curious to find out more. They may start asking around, read reviews or blog content, dig into detailed information about the brand or product, and start to compare the brand to other’s in the field.
This is where they flirt around with the ultimate action, which, depending on your business and its goals, could be posting a comment or article, giving an endorsement to a friend, or actually buying something from your site. It’s at this point that the user experience becomes paramount. This is where they are taking that plunge into your brand and doing something with it. If it’s not easy, fun, and even delightful, you missed the mark in getting your customer to the next level.
This is where the user discovers more about your brand or the product they purchased. I think that this level is really more about deepening their intimate connection to your brand. It’s about building mindshare, delight, and strong relationships. User experience is still key here. How will they be discovering more? Likely on your website. Make it easy for them. Give them all the tools they need to deepen those connections so they become so mentally enmeshed with your brand, they have no choice but to tell others about their experience.
Your customer is now ready to evangelize. But how will they do it? What tools are you providing them to make it easy and fun? This is where your brand has to effectively (and easily) connect to their social networks. If you reduce the barriers and make it easy for them to share out their enthusiasm and personal experience with your brand, you’ve done the right thing.
This process of connecting your brand to a customer’s circle of influence or network used to happen after the sale. But with current online technologies, this is now not the case.
Many digital strategies now include ways to engage at a very high level with a brand well before the purchase. Digital technologies are allowing curious users to explore the brand and dig more deeply into its oeuvre of information, satiating their desires before they fully commit. But with social media, that individual process can be exposed to other users through the customer’s social network. Because of this, brands are getting smart about creating in-line, contextual pathways to the user’s social network at even the very early stages of engagement.