Engagement marketing, sometimes called experiential marketing, event marketing, live marketing or participation marketing, is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers by inviting and encouraging consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand. – Wikipedia

It’s a serviceable definition, but when it comes to social media engagement, your brand needs to takes things a little further. Social media is the new passive space of our lives—a space once dominated entirely by television. So, breaking through the family chatter and friendly conversations requires a serious value proposition. As a reward for offering this value, you receive engagement, or active participation in your brand’s story.

Do you know how to measure your engagement success? Access the Social Media Marketing Audit Toolkit to keep your track of your goals.

Why is this important? Engagement fires on two cylinders, boosting top-of-mind awareness and prolonged loyalty. When users start to Like, Retweet, and Share your content, that brand awareness marketing becomes cheaper and more effective. Free impressions come through social sharing and, if your content is good, your early champions gain some social currency. With social currency, the idea that one’s social “cool factor” is shaped and enhanced by the things they share, new users enter the circle and your early fans stick around. Successive marketing campaigns are increasingly effective.

The long-term play of engagement marketing? Your fans feel invested. They’ve shared content they like, spurned content they don’t, added interpretation in the form of comments, and publicly demonstrated their affinity for you. In a way, there’s no turning back. Emotional investment can be tricky—there’s potential for tremendous goodwill and loud negative reactions—but universally, it translates to a larger, more stable fan base and more sales, while all future marketing campaigns benefit from the groundwork laid.

Before any business starts working toward engaging consumers on social media, they should ask themselves the following things:

  • What are my industry’s best practices (how many posts, what kind, etc.)
  • How many hours dedicated weekly?
  • What are your KPIs? Impressions? Sentiment?
  • Can you use a revenue formula to approximate social value?
  • What is your value add?

Your value add can be anything that will yield social currency. Your fans want to feel rewarded for their investment, or cool by virtue of what they’ve found before anyone else. They want to share eye-catching posts before anyone else. Great content makes this easy. If your contests, blog posts, GIFs, and videos are funny or compelling, they’ll stick—especially with a modest boost using Facebook and Twitter’s fantastic paid advertising tools. And don’t forget to offer exclusives—free downloads, offers, extra contest entries—to your champions through community management or email marketing.