Engagement Really Is THAT Simple

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 16, 2015

Here I am, tucked into my surprisingly comfy hotel bed, but not quite ready to start counting sheep. So I flick on the TV. First thing that pops up is “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” It’s a rerun, but I keep on watching – because the timeliness of this episode is overshadowed by the timelessness (and sheer brilliance) of the content. I was hooked the minute the “Box of Lies” segment came on with Emma Stone. 

Then it hit me! This is what engagement is (or should be) all about.

We spend tons of time reading the trade press and business mags to better understand engagement and its many shades of grey. But sometimes, in spite of all those great published insights, a light bulb goes off when and where you least expect it.

So in a nutshell, here’s what Jimmy teaches us about engagement:

Slow Your Roll: We live in an era of over-consumption. Our brains may be like sponges, but there’s only so much we can soak up at once. That’s the joy of late night TV. It’s easy to consume, it comes in small doses, and it’s entertaining.



So why do we feel the constant need to hit consumers over the head with a tsunami of content? Honestly, we need to ease up. We need to give people space to consume, embrace, and enjoy the content we put in front of them. It’s about quality, not quantity or repetition. Sooner or later, our attention spans will give.

Don’t give your customers a reason to glaze over. Those daily e-blasts? Cut back to three times per week – or even two. The endless white papers? Swap them out with a compelling infographic. Remember, our customers aren’t non-stop content processing machines. They want you to engage with them, not simply throw content at them. 

The Virtue of “Surprise and Delight”: Although the now-overused phrase “surprise and delight” is veering towards retirement, the idea behind it still holds true. If late-night hosts didn’t find unique ways to engage their audiences, they’d be out of business. So if Jimmy can use witty banter, karaoke sing-alongs, or a friendly game of beer pong to make a celebrity “interview” interesting the day after the same celebrity visited “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” why are marketers so hesitant to have a little lighthearted fun with their own customers?

We can’t forget that we are all consumers. By trade, marketers are likely the most hyper-sensitive consumers out there. So that would presumably make us the best stewards for curating the kinds of experiences our customers want and need, right? Not necessarily. It may actually make us the world’s biggest over-thinkers. (#marketingfail)

There’s nothing wrong dabbling in the realm of the light and airy. Those experiences give our minds a brief reprieve. Those silly little quizzes, hilarious memes, and ever so popular “Top 10” lists make us laugh and smile — an excuse to be “off” for a moment and not so serious all the time. Don’t be afraid to give your customers a little something unexpected every now and then. You may be pleasantly surprised – and delighted – with how they respond.  

Shoulder To Shoulder: Jimmy Fallon makes everyone feel welcome. No one is really off limits. Everyone is invited to be part of the experience. This combination of respect and irreverence makes his show truly special. Even when Jimmy is on the receiving end of the humor – like the memorable moment when Nicole Kidman spilled details about their “date” on-air – Jimmy finds a way to have fun and enjoy the experience.

We must be on an even playing field with our customers. No one likes being spoken down to. They want you to engage them in dialogue and listen to what they have to say. They want you to be empathetic to their needs. As marketers, we can never forget that the customer comes first. Without them, our brands would fail. So don’t be afraid to invite them in. You’ll only make your brand better. 

So, there you have it, a few late-night musings about late night TV. The big takeaway here (if you haven’t caught on already) is simple: engagement should not be complicated, it should be effortless. If you’ve got a pulse on what your customers love most, then the experiences you curate for them should flow naturally. Engage them. Listen to them. Delight them. That’s really what building a brand — and a loyal community — is all about.

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