What is Engagement

The word “engagement” is incredibly popular as a term that simply defines the audience experience.

But engagement is more than just stimulating cheers or jeers from a crowd. It’s a measure of retention and attention, and using multiple variables, it determines message sustainability. The reality is that the audience experience is much more refined than the word “engagement” lets on.

Informally in business, the word is used to mean many things.


Engagement (noun) – The audience, the environment, content persuasiveness and retention, positive mood, attentiveness, sales conversion, satisfaction ratings, memory, the overall experience, etc.




Back to Square One: The Word that Started it All

So where did the word “engagement” come from? A quick Google search will tell you that the word “engage” or “engagement” can mean that we are: interested, emotionally committed, getting married or participating in something.


Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engagement


Surprisingly, most of these meanings are not far off. Often when we talk about an “engaged” audience they are interested and committed, positive and receptive to messaging, and active participants.

The meaning of the word hasn’t changed much, we just use it differently.

It’s not exactly clear when, why, or how, but at some point the word “engagement” started being used as a simple way to describe the audience experience. And instead of trying to figure out what creates the perfect audience experience, we started talking about it as a matter of fact. For example, people often say:

“We need to improve engagement”
“We obtained 67% higher engagement”

Most of us are guilty of this. Since the word resonates with people right away, it’s tempting to use. There isn’t always time to dive into the details of the audience experience and sometimes you need a word that captures it all. But this has led to a major problem:


“Engagement is a word that talks about everything but means nothing.”


Most people have a general idea of what engagement is, but saying we need to “better engage” is like saying we need to “sell better” or “teach better” – it simply sets up a bigger, more meaningful conversation.

“Engagement”: A Simple Solution to a Complicated Problem

Let’s be clear. We’re not saying we should remove the word “engagement” from our vocabulary. It can be used as an informal way of to let others know we are talking about the audience experience. But it needs to be seen for what it is: a simple conversation starter.


“The word engagement needs to be seen for what it is: A simple conversation starter.”