Today’s marketing has been quite reliant on the “audience” and how they “engage” with contents being placed in front of them. Brands make an effort to create and curate their social media pages in hope that this will bring in more fans – which, to them, means “more engagement”.

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Photo: Pexels

Before we dive deeper, let’s take a look at the operational definition of community and engagement. 

In this space, the term community means the audience: these are the people who are interested in what you have to offer, who invest their time and energy in making sure they’re updated with what you’re currently doing as a brand. Engagement is the process of forming an emotional or rational attachment between a consumer and a brand.

Lately, community engagement’ has become such an abused term. Especially when we’re talking about it in the realms of digital and social media.

Some brands think that community engagement is a simple feat. You just need to set up a Facebook page, boost the content with Facebook ads, create quizzes with interesting gifts and other incentives, throw in some events or community gatherings… and voila! They think they have nailed it. Proudly, they label these efforts as “community engagement.”

For example, whenever a brand has a number of fans interacting with their quizzes and other content, as well as people coming to the events they put up, they immediately call it their “community” and believe that they have already achieved good “community engagement.”

This is not always the case. There are several different factors to consider in order for a brand to be able to say that they’ve achieved effective community engagement.

Nurturing relationships

Ideally, community engagement is all about how brands use their digital space to build ongoing and permanent relationships with their audience. These relationships are nurtured to build loyalty and apply a collective vision for the benefit of the business – and the community as well.

Quality over quantity

It is important to note that in terms of community engagement, having more doesn’t always mean better. Community engagement is not about how many (the number of fans, number of interactions, etc.). It is about how strong the bond is between you (as the brand) and your community.

How can you tell whether your bond with the community is strong enough? Ask the following questions:

1. Would someone in your online group take the time to answer questions about your products or services, which is posed by another member? Are they doing this for you, or does your page admin have to jump around answering questions?

2. If a community you are targeting is having an event, do they invite you or someone from your company to attend because you are considered a friend, and not because they need you to sponsor the event?

3. If you’re in big trouble or in a crisis, do you feel comfortable reaching out and seeking advice from the “leader” of your relevant community, knowing that you can trust them and knowing that they would want to help you?

4. If you go out of business, will this community miss you and feel like they have lost something truly precious to them?
If you have answered yes to all these questions, then you can definitely say that you indeed have the loyalty and trust of your community.

Shift your mindset

Now that we’ve had that covered, perhaps it’s time to rethink your take on the concept of community engagement. Perhaps it’s time to shift your mindset – from thinking of short-term growth to considering the long-term effects of all your actions.

It’s not about how many fans you have, not about how many interactions you get on your posts daily – it’s about how strong your bond is.

It is important to pose this question to your agency or manager: how strong is our engagement? Are we getting a yes on all the indicative questions? Are we providing value to them with our contents – above everything else? How much can we trust our community to seek their advice or inputs?

In conclusion, community engagement is not just a term that should be thrown about. It is important that the concept behind it is understood, and understood well– so that any activities in the digital and social space yield actual, valuable results that will lead your business or brand to success. [By Hanny Kusumawati]

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