What My Kids Have Taught Me About Engagement

Are you also juggling job, homeschooling of children, creative projects, and research? Are your kids constantly coming to you for advice/support/validation/reassurance even though your spouse is also available? And does that drive you mad? Then you can relate.

Now, I’ve racked my brain trying to understand this, until it hit me. It’s a communication and reputation management issue. Relax, I’m not about to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. Quite the opposite, congratulations are probably in order: the reason your kids behave like this might be because they perceive you as the “go-to” authority on many issues, and that means you’ve built a lot of trust capital (or goodwill).

REPUTATION AS INSEPARABLE FROM ENGAGEMENT

How did that happen? In my case the answer is ENGAGEMENT. As the parent who is virtually always there (home office), and because I take a constant interest in their education, dreams and grievances, I am seen as reliable. Because I hold myself to the same high standards that I expect from others, and believe in problem solving – I am seen as competent (I always manage to find a solution, rather than adopt a passive, indifferent attitude). And because we are constantly communicating on a meaningful level (i.e. I express both clear expectations and can soothe or help out when problems arise) – while my husband’s busy schedule away from home makes interactions with them more erratic – I am seen as credible (i.e., my opinions and evaluations have come to carry more weight). In other words, they TRUST me.

Now, I realize I’m bragging. 🙂 But the point is, this holds true whether you are an individual or a business: when customers are “nagging”, it is usually because they have invested trust capital in you and expect you to have a solution to their problems. That is a pretty positive thing, wouldn’t you agree? You should be happy to be part of the conversation, instead of being criticized behind your back. And you should do your best to steer that conversation and keep it going, and grow your presence and your brand.

HOW TO ENGAGE

Long story short, engaging with customers and stakeholders consistently and reliably, with authenticity and honesty, can do wonders for your reputation. What you need is regular content that deals with your stakeholders’ pains openly and honestly and reflects a genuine concern for their satisfaction. Create a sense of community around your brand. You need consistent messaging, transparency, clarity, empathy, customer orientation and customer-oriented storytelling.

Be fascinating, by all means, and showcase your competencies as often as you can. But be open and frank about those situations where your product is not the ideal solution for a client’s needs or when your business is going through a rough patch – highlight what you are doing to fix that, bring a strong vision and good project management to back it up. Engage everyone, including naysayers. Resist combative impulses and admit mistakes – not in a robotic, run-of-the-mill standardized fashion that says “you’re a number to me” or “I’m just going through the motions” – but handling reality and encouraging dialogue, genuinely searching for solutions. Don’t whitewash everything or gloss over difficult aspects. In general, people can sense when they’re put on a diet of “cheap excuses” and appreciate truthful explanations (Don’t you like being trusted with the truth? Doesn’t that make you feel respected? Besides, hush-ups have a way of coming back to haunt you.)

give me something real!

In my opinion, and the opinion of others (read more here and here), the hard sell is history. People feel and understand when they’re being taken advantage of and instrumentalized. They are wary of “spin doctors” and manipulation. Marketing, in a nutshell, is about human nature, about understanding what people really want, what they crave for, and treating them as you would treat your family or your circle of friends.

Speak like a real person, be yourself – the best version of that, but still authentic. Deliver on your promises and truly contribute – not only as a “PR stunt”, but consistently and steadily, and because you truly believe in the cause. The best word wizard can’t always conceal the inconsistencies of your real actions, and any amount of varnish quickly peels off in a shitstorm. Understanding your audiences requires that you really care, and that you do your homework. If you don’t put in the effort, people will disengage – and possibly drag others away with them.

Remember, trust is hard to earn and easily squandered. Make sure you truly value your buyers, partners and end users, and that your communications (and actions) reflect this!

Any questions? YourTranscreator is always happy to help with market and media research, cultural and communication consulting, transcreation, training, and more.

(Featured image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.)

#communication #branding #engagement #socialmedia #reputationmanagement