First published on April 28, 2016 by Louis La Bonté

“Consumer engagement” has become a catchphrase and touted as a must-have for any brand looking to drive growth, relationships, and, ultimately, sales. But does anyone really understand “engagement” in the same way? When discussing this concept, it sounds so familiar that we tend to not realize how widely it can be interpreted.

So, what is engagement and what does it mean for your brand?

Be Engaged to Know

As an illustration, let’s consider common definitions of the verb “engage”:
1. To get and keep someone’s attention, interest, etc. (e.g. “engage an audience or its interest”)
2. To bring someone to participate in something (“engage people in conversation”).
3. To intensely involve someone in something (“completely engaged by work”).
4. To secure the services of someone or hire them (“engaging good translators”)
5. To pledge oneself, undertake, agree or commit to something (“she engaged to be in charge”).
6. (ENGAGE IN) To do something (“engage in a behaviour”).
7. (ENGAGE WITH) To establish a meaningful contact or connection with a person or group (“engage with prospective clients”).
8. To give serious attention to something (“engage with a problem”).

Why did you just read a list of dictionary definitions? There’s an important common thread throughout: being active and inclusive. Engagement is not passive; individuals, or brands, must put thought and effort into actions geared towards creating and maintaining engagement. Engagement is also not a one-way dialogue. As a brand, you simply cannot stand on your metaphorical soapbox and shout your message at consumers. You need to “intensely involve” them and “establish a meaningful connection” so that you “get and keep someone’s (ie. your customers’) attention”. One more key takeaway? Look at definition 8. Yes, engagement in life and in marketing requires serious attention. Developing a marketing strategy that will truly engage consumers requires time and effort .

consumer engagement

Be Engaged to Understand

George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”. Chances are he wasn’t talking about cultural marketing, but Shaw nonetheless hit upon an important truth all marketers must consider: language is essential to understanding and everyone has a different understanding of language. Even localization between various English dialects can point out huge differences, so imagine how much variation is possible when translating between languages! If your brand is seeking new audiences, chances are new languages will be an essential part of reaching these demographics. It is essential to understand precisely what language you require. Canadian or Parisian French? British or Australian English? The list goes on, but understanding who your consumers are is essential to create effective communication and engagement.

Language is essential to understanding and everyone has a different understanding of language

Engage with Clarity

Consider the French language. Conveniently (or not!) the word “engagement” also exists in French – that makes it an easy translation, right? Wrong. In French, the actual meaning is something closer to “commitment”, or even political activism and job hiring. Our blog post on “engagement” could easily go awry if we directly translate the key word into French. When translating your brand’s message between languages, it is essential to work with individuals who understand the heart of what you’re trying to say and who have the skillset to adapt that message for another linguistic and cultural context while ensuring the words used will generate the attention you seek.

Engage the Consumer

How do you ensure that your audience truly understands your message? It all comes down to clarity: before you even think about sending your content out for localization or translation, make sure your brand has a clear, coherent message in your source language.

And once your brand has found its voice? Getting help from experienced language service professionals will ensure your message is not only reaching a wider array of audiences, but that you are also engaging them.

Image Credit: ZINAVARTA