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Ideas Are the Highest Form of Engagement

Quite a few months ago, I was bouncing some ideas around with a good friend and he shared one of his thoughts with me, which was this: “A culture of innovation is one that recognizes that ideas are the highest form of engagement a person can have with a brand.”

I thought about this for a few days, and the more I thought about it, the more I saw that it fit really well in the context of online engagement.

I came up with the above diagram: which made sense to me and it felt like a walk down the Internet’s memory lane.



In the early days of the Internet, the game was all about getting hits to your website. How many hits per month? We have evolved the lingo to views, web views, or page views, but the point is the same: how many people may have passively seen your stuff.


The next level up the engagement pyramid is the level of Support: a facebook like, a +1 on Google+, a thumbs up, or a supporting comment. At this level, users are actually clicking on a button, declaring that they approve of some piece of content, and sometimes adding their name to the tally of supporters. The thinking was that a “like” was worth more than a “hit” because it was of a higher quality.


Beyond likes, we have shares. At the sharing level, users are actually putting their name on something, and usually adding their own little twist. Sharing involves finding a piece of content, putting your name on it, and then rebroadcasting the content in some way. Sharing on facebook and retweeting on twitter is still a relatively quick thing to do; usually it only takes a few seconds, but it requires more effort than simply “liking,” and it usually has more impact.


Commenting is where users are generating new content for the first time on our journey, and in doing so, they are entering into a conversation. Having a conversation represents a higher level of engagement than either a view, like, or retweet.


Finally, we get to the good stuff: Ideas. Ideas are the super high-octane jet fuel of online engagement. To have an idea about something, it requires that the idea holder have a certain amount of knowledge and awareness about the subject (company/person/brand). If commenting is entering the realm of creation, then ideas are firmly in the realm of co-creation. For example: if someone have an idea about Nike, that idea is already shaped by all of that person’s prior knowledge and experiences they have had regarding Nike. Nike is then, in some way, participating in my idea. I could not have had this idea if Nike did not exist in the first place. In some ways an idea is the sum of all of the previous actions.


So what does it all mean? Well, I think it helps explain why we are seeing a shifting of priorities up the engagement pyramid. Just as we went from hits to likes, and now likes to shares, we will soon see more and more focus on the value of ideas.

Harness the power of employee ideas.