17 Rules of Engagement to Create a Love Affair Between Your Brand and Buyer



An anthropologist, psychologist and neuroscientist walk into a bar….

It sounds like the beginning of a lame joke or an extremely cerebral story, but I have no punch line.

It’s no joke. Nor is it a heady story for all you Big Bangers.

I have good news for you though. We’re going to talk about passion and love. Human needs and wants. We’re going to have a look at engagement and the joyous places it can take you.

Matters of the heart matter in business.

Yes, this is a story about building your business.

The points I’ll make might appear to be about turning people on. They are indeed. We call this social media. It may seem I’m talking about courtship. I am. It’s often referred to as lead nurturing. You’ll gather my lesson here today is about commitment. Right you are. You can call that buying.

And you’ll pick up on my see-through attempts to talk about the importance of growing together. The business translation would be loyalty and advocacy.

Cupid’s not stupid.

Engagement is a big deal. In keeping with our love metaphor, I propose we agree the one night stand, though it may be thrilling, it’s not fulfilling. In marketing, a lead or sale usually does bring on a fleeting little buzz, but the days to follow could very well be empty.

The lover in us all wants a meaningful relationship. We long to have our needs and wants satisfied. True comfort comes from being able to depend on each other.

In my mind, it’s real easy to translate the metaphor to business. We strive to have people buy our products. We work to earn and keep the customers’ loyalty. And we depend on instilling the kind of passion that inspires customers to spread the love.

If it can all be summed up in a word, the word is engagement.


So get engaged.

Engagement is the DNA of the relationship. If you don’t put your heart into engaging customers, your competitors gladly will. The apathetic shall walk alone.

What is engagement? It’s an emotional connection. The intensity of the emotion is equal to the connection to your brand. Face it, they may be few, but there are some brands you really love. Living without them would surely suck.

So, we get emotionally involved. And you know how that goes. Each of the following applies to business as profoundly as it does love.

  • We’re fickle.
  • We expect rewards.
  • The bad stuff tends to outweigh the good.
  • We all have different needs.
  • When we have an itch, we want it scratched—now.
  • The flame requires constant fuel.

Sheese. We’re complicated.

You better understand the elements of engagement.

The Science of Engagement,” a deeply researched and thorough exploration of the true nature of engagement by Canvas8 and Weber Shandwick, helped me get my head around the most important elements.

Here they are—the motivators that drive people to engage. I’ve tried to explain each in super simple terms and offered an example of how each might be applied in marketing communications.

Access—Ease and convenience influences choices.
Example: You’ll get healthy food fast.

Aesthetics—Good looks are appealing.
Example: This will make you look great by the pool.

Association—Comfort and familiarity feels right.
Example: Remember how this song made you feel?

Belonging—Social creatures want to fit in.
Example: You’ll be a valued member of our team.

Desire—Satisfy desires.
Example: Wake up feeling rejuvenated and energetic.

Empathy—A reason to care is a powerful form of engagement.
Example: Your donation can save a life.

Enhancement—Appeal to self-improvement needs.
Example: Our course will help you master your speaking skills.

Escape—Help transport people away from the reality of here and now.
Example: Take the vacation you’ve always dreamed of.

Experience—Connect with fond memories or steer people away from bad ones.
Example: It feels like waking up on Christmas morning.

Following—Join the crowd.
Example: Your friends will all be there.

Integrity—Be honest, consistent and reliable.
Example: We respond to every applicant.

Intrigue—Use tactics that spark curiosity such as ambiguity and suspense.
Example: Common misconceptions about search engine optimization.

Involvement—Engage people by asking for their time, effort and energy.
Example: Create a website yourself and build your brand.

Meaning—Help people satisfy their quests for purpose.
Example: In our one-hour seminar you’ll discover the things you value most.

Newness—Capture attention with originality and innovation.
Example: Why leave a message for your pediatrician when you can ping her?

Pleasure—Offer the sensory experiences people crave.
Example: You haven’t had a real dessert until you’ve had the chocolate explosion.

Respect—Achievement and recognition is a powerful magnet.
Example: Earn official CPA certification and become a lifesaver.

Engagement makes social media meaningful.

Is engagement a strategy? A tactic? A technique? Where does it play in social media? I asked three of the most respected experts to weigh in.

“Engagement is most certainly a strategy, because in many industries and verticals it can be the unique value proposition. How many energy drinks are there on the market? And how many of them engage their audience in unique ways? Red Bull is it. It’s not the only strategy to use in your marketing, but when your competition is silent—or not using the tools available—and you embrace the conversation, well, you’re unique.”
~ Jason Falls, author of “No Bullshit Social Media,” founder of Social Media Explorer

“You can’t eat it or pay your rent with engagement, but in social media, you must have engagement at some level to accomplish the more meaningful business outcomes you seek. The goal isn’t to ‘engage, the goal is to improve your company via engagement.”
~ Jay Baer, co-author of “The Now Revolution,” CEO and founder of Convince and Convert

“The days of broadcasting vague and generic messages to the masses are history. If you want to grow a business—make sales—you need to build relationships. In a noisy world where there’s a ton of options for prospects, people will work with those they trust. A small act of kindness, a simple reply to a blog comment or a thoughtful retweet of someone else’s valuable content goes a long way towards engendering trust. That is the value of engagement.”
~ Michael Stelzner, author of “Launch,” CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner

Now it’s your turn. Offer your insights here. Engage our readers.

Social Media Today – The world’s best thinkers on social media