This article will focus on the neuroscience of engagement and how best to think about it in digital marketing. This is easy enough to do, providing that readers forget all the hype they've ever read about engagement.
The next few pages will:
- Define "engagement" as most people recognize it in their everyday lives
- Discuss what happens in the brain -- the neuroscience -- when we're engaged (with a brief foray into the neurology of a "like" in social media)
- Tie that brain science back to everyday life
- Use what we've covered to create an engagement template to use with digital properties.
What is engagement?
Let's start with some forms of engagement you may already be familiar with.
Have you ever been engaged to someone (as in "planning to get married")? Have you ever heard someone described as a "very engaging speaker?" Have you heard of someone referred to as being "very engaged in their work?"
How about yourself: Have you ever been very engaged by a conference presentation or presenter? Or told someone you can't talk because you have to focus on something? Or because some task is requiring all your attention? Or asked someone to wait a second while you finish something?
Let's go simple: Have you ever told someone "Shhh!" during the final seconds of a televised game? Or asked someone to give you a few minutes so you could finish a section of a book?
The list can go on. What is similar about each item on the list is that attention is focused on one thing and one thing only.
When we're engaged to be married, we're publicly stating that we're focusing our romantic (and other) attention on one person only. An engaging speaker is one who causes his or her audience to focus their attention on him or her. An engaging presentation is one that focuses our attention on itself -- ditto a presenter. Someone who is engaged in their work is focusing most, if not all, of their attention on whatever task they're doing -- ditto an exciting game or book.
When we focus, pay attention to, need to finish something, or concentrate on one thing and one thing only, we're devoting more and more brain function (conscious and non-conscious resources) to performing two things and two things only.