EVP, Chief Content Officer and General Counsel
Two years ago I wrote that 2016 should be “The Year of the Person” because I believed that every business and media executive needed to put the person at the top of their agenda and intimately understand them as individuals — their personal aspirations, preferences, passions, content choices, and consumption habits — if they ever hoped to have a profitable relationship with them.
“The Year of the Person” was also the overarching theme that inspired all of us at PressReader to focus on delivering the right content to the right person at the right time in the right format across the right channels at the right price.
This year, I believe we all need to focus on forging an even deeper relationship with the
person through engagement.
Engagement is an interesting word. Conventionally defined as “a promise to wed,” engagement was seen as the next step towards a much longer and more intimate connection with someone who once started out as just an acquaintance. Traditionally it was assumed to be a “death do us part” communion regardless of its mutual benefits to either party, but in today’s society very few relationships last that long.
The same is true in business; people are no longer quick to pledge undying commitment and loyalty. Consumers not only have very high expectations of the goods, services, and content they buy, they expect to be heard, respected, and valued by the producer. Not just at the time of sale, but throughout the entire lifetime of the relationship. If they don’t get what they want, they walk away and rarely look back.
In October 2017, Forbes announced the 50 Most Engaged Companies in the world. Amazon, unsurprisingly, topped the list, followed by Google. A number of progressive airlines, hotels, and retailers also made the grade — those who demonstrated a commitment to personalizing the travel and shopping experience for their frequent flyers/guests/ customers.
These 50 businesses know how to be successful on this people-powered planet. They understand that we have to connect with people personally, cultivate trust with them, and build a foundation upon which we can engage with them at an even deeper level.
They know that engaged individuals are not the passive consumers of past decades. Rather, they are active participants in the creation of value. They share the responsibility of nurturing the brandconsumer relationship by fulfilling each other’s needs, joining in conversations and decision-making, and providing honest feedback and support.
These companies also recognize that engagement isn’t a thing, an act, an event, or a social media account for one-way conversations. It’s a living and breathing experience, like a dance where it takes two to tango.
Engagement is also not a statistic. It cannot be measured by the number of unique visitors to a website or followers on social media. It’s measured by the amount of time an individual chooses to spend with us and what we produce. It’s measured in the amount of effort a person makes in communicating with us and our staff, the amount of content they post on our sites, the honest feedback they provide, and the referrals they generate on our behalf.
There are so many technologies today that can help foster engagement. Think machine learning, artificial intelligence, messaging apps, chatbots, and smart data (yes, it’s big, but the more important attribute should be how smart we are about it).
All these technologies bring challenges and require us to adapt quickly with the ever-increasing velocity of innovation and behavioral changes. But, have we ever stopped to think that just 20 years ago it would be virtually impossible for us to reach, and have our content and services be discovered by billions of people?
The internet made all that possible while discerning consumers helped the cream of the crop to rise to the top. And although the web opened the door to fraud, copyright infringements, piracy, and disruptive intermediaries (e.g. online travel agencies), new technologies (e.g. blockchain) are poised to facilitate transparency, simplify settlements between third parties and businesses, eliminate fraud, and ensure fair compensation for content creators and service providers.
2018 is looking to be a very exciting year in terms of technological advancements and the deeper engagement opportunities they bring to the brand-person relationship. I hope you’ll join me in a New Year’s resolution to embrace all technology has to offer and engage at a more personal level with the people who are the lifeblood of our businesses.
Happy New Year!