© 2011, Michael A. Brown

In direct marketing before the Internet and social media, we used to debate the difference between responses and inquiries and leads … and whether a transaction equaled, or even implied, a relationship.

Now, of course, we have clicks and followers and followees and likes and Tweets and viral video and inbound marketing and such … even in BtoB. So the marketing debate evolves: is a click a lead? Is a white paper download that was not provoked by a specific marketing action automatically an opportunity? Does the nurturing process defined and managed in a marketing automation system signify engagement? To all these questions, I answer, “not yet.”

At some point(s), genuine engagement has to include real-time human-to-human interaction. All the linking and friending may be very valuable in advancing toward engagement. However, such communication does not yet mean genuine engagement … that takes one person experiencing another live, either in-person or at least in dialogue over the phone. It is similar in business to what happens in our personal lives.

For example, while a couple is dating and texting and Facebooking, they certainly enjoy communication and their relationship. Often, the next step is to become “engaged.” Then, either as fiancées or after marriage, the couple can either tour Europe on-line, or actually travel to Europe. They will do the latter and engage with Europeans person-to-person in real time.

Real engagement is how people have advanced human relations and society and business since the dawn of time. Let us keep it that way and not have “engagement” devolve into simply another marketing buzzword. Let's talk with each other, meet with each other, and prosper!

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