Stop Thinking Your Brand is Engaging When it Isn’t | by

by Jesse de Agustin | @emonalytics


Brand engagement isn’t about increased clicks, scanned QR codes, and number of followers; brand engagement includes eliciting emotion from your audience and reinforcing mindspace by connecting to your audience on a conscious or subconscious level.

Brands take great strides to increase brand engagement, yet often fall short by only affecting their share of voice, interactions, or connectivity.  “The goal is not to get people to engage with an ad – it’s to get people to engage with your brand in a way that builds an emotional bond,” says Stephen Trask, MT, Managing Director at emonalytics.

The key to evoking engagement? Craft brand experiences that are relevant to your audience, and elicit emotion on a subconscious level. [1] Getting your audience to engage requires a brand that is actually engaging; and eliciting engagement is a precursor to your audience taking action.

Brands communicating under the guise of engagement must examine how their touchpoints evoke emotion and reinforce their brand’s place within the customer’s mind. Solidifying this mindspace ensures a brand is properly encoded and recalled at various instances over time – including when purchase decisions must be made.

As the Pepsi Refresh Project demonstrates a social media presence or interactions necessarily increase engagement from your audience. This campaign not only shows the danger of placing tactics before strategy, but also demonstrates that its so-called “audience engagement” ultimately did not reinforce mindspace for the soft drink brands. [2]

Engagement, Evolved

With traditional engagement methods, marketers fall prey to the illusion of an engaged audience. While a piece of content might elicit an emotional response, additional questions remain; such as determining the precise emotion that was felt, and whether or not you want it part of the brand experience going forward.

Look at the below chart to see how each traditional engagement method undergoes an evolution to “Audience-Centered Engagement. Asking our audience and customers to describe their attitudes and behaviors towards “x” is limited in scope. Yet combining these questions with measuring if subconscious nonverbal microexpressions match what is shared provides deeper insights.

The Anatomy of Engagement

Quantify these components, and ensure an engaging brand experience [3] Note that increased click rate, re-tweets, and scanned QR codes do not appear – these are byproducts, dependent on whether or not your brand is engaging.  

The Evolution of Engagement

If you’re not measuring the subconscious, you’re not measuring true engagement. “Audience-Centered engagement” ensures brand experiences are tailored to your audience and engagement is achieved.

Quantifying how your audience emotionally reacts to your content by using the proper metrics allows their engagement to be mapped, and therefore evoked with greater precision.

Related Links:

What We Do (About Us)

Understanding Emotion for Genuine Brand Engagement

Works Cited

[1] Trask, S. (2012, April 4) The only way to influence your audience is to engage  them”Retrieved April 8, 2012 from Revealing Engagement:

[2] Moran, T. (2011 May 27) “Is there meaning in PepsiCo’s ‘Refresh’ Campaign Failure?” Accessed April 6, 2012

[3] Plassmann, Hilke et. al. (2012) Branding the brain: A critical review and outlook (in press)Journal of Consumer Psychology

[4] Steffen, Astrid C. et. al. (2009) Brain Evoked Potentials Reflect How Emotional Faces Influence our Decision Making. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics. 2, (1) 32-40.