Moving Beyond Enticing to Engaging

by Michael Drew on May 11, 2016

Michael Drew · Creativity in Business · May 11, 2016

Pendulum in Action, marketing plans, enticing to engagingAgreeing to disagree isn’t a thing anymore. We tend to block from our social-media feeds those who disagree with us. Conversations aren’t really conducted around topics in real life (we prefer to exchange points of view regarding fictional universes, such as what’s happening on Game of Thrones). It’s almost unheard of online for someone to try to understand another person’s point of view regarding the state of things.

This is part of how we look at the world now: it’s usually at a slight remove. The instant spread of information in the internet age hasn’t created engagement with other people over ideas as much as it has allowed reflection to be pushed aside in favor of reaction. We’d rather hit “refresh” than think about what we’ve just read. It’s easier to give a thumbs-up sign to someone’s text than to reflect on someone’s essay.

How we absorb information has changed, certainly. More of us today are digitally enabled, so to speak, rather than paper-reliant. So it’s all faster and often less permanent: digital information may last forever online, but what said is often surpassed by what’s said a second later. That instant access to headlines and clickbait can create in us a similar need for an immediate sensation. The problem is that if we ourselves think in headlines, we ignore subtext. That doesn’t lead to understanding.

An emoticon can’t replace serious thought, despite our joy at using a cute little icon that approximates a fleeting state of mind.

But I believe that a great many of us still prefer to be informed than to be simply aware. And I believe that may of us still want to engage in a conversation of some sorts even if more and more of us are witnessing a standoff between opposing opinions.

Why is this important? I ask this as someone who works with clients to incorporate social media into marketing plans in order to connect with an audience and to build that audience into a tribe of engaged readers and consumers. I ask this as someone who is approached often by people to help them market what they want to say and to say something of lasting importance.

I still believe that people are concerned with leaving a legacy somehow – a legacy of ideas, of making a difference. I still believe that blogs are effective in creating engaged consumers (and readers of books), even in an age of microsecond attention spans. I still believe that people want narratives of some sort rather than one-sentence observations. I still believe people like to read books. And to write them.

I don’t believe people are always searching for the next big thing, even if they’re constantly clicking on the next status update. A legacy doesn’t involve creating the next big thing so much as leaving a lasting impression on how people feel about themselves or the world around them.

The trick is to find a balance in attention-getting and then true engagement. I guess the next big thing is to figure out what people will actually pay attention to and then linger over. Because people still sometimes do want to linger.

[rps]

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