The Engagement Process and Social Business

the combined acts of consumption, curation, creation, and collaboration carry participants in the conversations around your business from readers to talkers to co-creators. Two fundamentally important considerations that are directly
applicable to your business or organization come out of this.

First, your audience is more inclined to engage in collaborative activities—sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns—that include you. It may be a “negative” process: your audience maybe including you in a conversation whose end goal is a change in your business process that improves a particular (negative) experience they’ve had. Or, it may be simply “We love you…here’s what else we’d like to see.” The actual topics matter less than the fact that your customers are now actively sharing with you their view of the ways in which what you offer affects them. By building in social behaviors and inviting customers into these processes, your business or organization is in a much better position to identify and tap the evangelists that form around your brand, product,
or service.

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Second, because your customers or other stakeholders have moved from reading to creating and collaborating, they are significantly closer to the steps that follow collaboration as it leads to engagement: trial, purchase, and advocacy. The engagement process provides your customers with the information and experiences needed to
become effective advocates, and carry your message further into their own personal
networks.

As examples of the value customers and organizational participants will bring as
they gather ’round and talk, consider the following:

•You don’t get to the really good results until you go through the necessary venting of people you’ve previously ignored: Opening up a dialog gives you a natural way to enable venting and healing.

•The way you deal with negative issues is an exhibition of your true character:
become a master and reap the rewards.

•It’s your job to understand what was really meant, given whatever it was that was actually said. “I hate you” isn’t always as simple as it sounds: This kind of seemingly intense negativity may arise because the customer involved likes you enough to actually feel this way when things go wrong.
• Ultimately, your customers want to see you do well: They want your product or service to please them.
Looking ahead at the engagement end goal—advocacy—note that the benefits of advocacy apply beyond the immediate customers involved. Advocates gather around 21

The Operations and Marketing Connection
your brand, product, or service to spread their experiences for the purpose of influencing others. For you, it’s a double payoff: Not only does it make more likely the creation
of advocates through collaborative social applications, but because these and other
social applications exist, the advocates that emerge are actually more able to spread
their stories.

In the end, the engagement process as applied to social business is about connecting your customers and stakeholders with your brand, product, or service, and then tapping their collective knowledge and connecting into your organization to drive innovation and beneficial change. With this linkage in place, the larger social feedback loop is available to you for use in ways that can—and do—lead to long-term competitive advantage.

The Operations and Marketing Connection

So far this chapter has covered two primary topics: The importance of understanding
the mechanics of the Social Web and the Social Feedback Cycle, and the collaborative
inflection-point within the larger social engagement process. Engagement has been
redefined for social business as a more active (participative) notion compared with
the decidedly more passive definition of engagement—reading an ad or mechanically
interacting with a microsite—typically applied in traditional media, where terms like
“Engagement Ad” literally means “an ad you can click on to see more promo copy.”
That’s not what participants on the Social Web think of as “engaging,” as the Social
The web is a distinctly participation-centric place.

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