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Buying Into Digital Engagement

There are good reasons for corporate senior management to exhibit caution when introducing social concepts to the workplace. Social in the workplace tends to draw the attention of the human resource department, in a manner that is not always positive. The following is a way to breakthrough this paradigm and to reap the benefits that digital engagement can provide:

Social Engagement
Social denotes friendly companionship, community, a club, or an event. The internet has afforded us new avenues for communicating with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances. We have social networks and forums dedicated to this purpose. Engagement here is typically casual, friendly, and personal.

So where do educators, businesses, scientist, et al. fit in? The purpose they serve does not necessitate familial interaction, and the mode or method for communicating should not be casual. Here lies the oxymoron, and scientific conundrum.  It is this “social” aspect that stumps many otherwise highly intelligent human beings from seeing the benefits of the “social web.”

Digital Engagement
So what’s the difference between social engagement and digital engagement? Social engagement and digital engagement are not mutually exclusive. Social engagement can be considered a segment of digital engagement simply because it occurs via digital means. Digital engagement lends itself to socializing; however, digital engagement also provides for education and research, business transactions, and consumerism.

The internet is where
approximately 80% of the developed world and 30% of up and coming nations spend over 60% of their time online, and approximately 20% of this time is spent making purchases or becoming an informed consumer. Sounds like a good business reason to engage.  Highlighting the benefits of engaging in the digital environment will appeal to the business savvy, and the educational and research needs of the educator. 

Online, you have the opportunity to extend your reach locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally with little to no increased overhead. The depth and breadth of your reach is really only limited by the stretch of your imagination and the extent of your core competency. Social Media: Aiming to Create an Experience

An organization is limited only by their imagination for how this space can be utilized to engage their audience.  Digital engagement is far greater than pre-established social networks and forums. Not only can the company capture the attention of its ever shifting consumer, and realize efficiency in research, communication, and marketing efforts, internal platforms such as instant messaging and webcasts can increase collaboration and productivity.

When "social" is placed in the larger context of "digital" it becomes a smaller and easier pill to swallow.

The Buy-in
Once management understands both the benefit of engaging their customers and the flexibility of platforms to engage their stakeholder, it becomes increasingly difficult  to say no to digital engagement.  If you're looking for buy-in, try including the following your proposal:  

1) A statement about the activity and the expected outcome e.g. increased enrollment, increased student engagement, increased sales, increased membership, etc.
2) Research concerning an average annual return, what does the average institution or business experience in one year versus three years, versus five years of operating in the digital environment.
3) A cost-benefit analysis that indisputably shows that the benefit of implementation outweighs the costs of non-engagement. But, if this analysis shows that the cost outweighs the benefits then a program should not be implemented.
4) An initial set of metrics the organization can track during the first year and expected performance as tailored to the particulars of the proposed program.
5) A detailed action plan for implementation including the required resources to successfully execute the program.
6) An exit strategy in case something changes or things do not work out as planned.

Senior management appreciates having the dots connected from concept to the bottom line. A proposal that takes all business aspects into consideration and lets them know what they should expect enables actual reflection on the feasibility of the plan as opposed to becoming hung up on details such as “social,” etc.