The Difference Between Engaged and Engaging

Companies love to share their successes with social media. How it’s allowing them to “engage with fans and customers”, and how they’re “being part of the conversation”.

Like it’s something new and wild and golly gee, aren’t we great?

Well, yes, it’s great that you’re doing something you should have been doing all along – talking with customers, and not just because of social media – and it’s great that you’re now part of the conversations around your brand.

But are you really engaging, or just being engaged? Because there’s quite the difference between the two.

Check out these two Facebook Pages as an example.

Social Report

Arment Dietrich  Inc.

The first page is for Social Report, “a social network analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your social space and marketing effectiveness.” It’s a lively page – if lively equals automated updates every thirty minutes about what their service features are. Their Twitter stream is pretty much the same.

The second is for Arment Dietrich (a little disclosure – Gini Dietrich, the CEO of Arment Dietrich, is a friend, but this doesn’t bias my post). Their wall is a mix of company updates, social media and communication industry news, helping the environment, questions from “fans” and fun Facebook tips. And they have a lot of their connections sharing stuff on their wall too – always a great sign of full engagement.

If you were someone looking to hire a company – or see how a business understands – social media, which one would you choose (going by these two Facebook Pages)? One where it’s just update after update with no real depth, or one that shares a mix of useful advice and tips, and allows their customers (fans) to do the same?

So. Are you engaging with social media, or are you just engaged?

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  1. says

    That is an important distinction, isnt it? However, I think most Facebook pages would pale in comparison to the venerable Gini no-need-for-last-name-cuz-everyone-knows-who-she-is :-)

  2. says

    I love this… It’s @Gini Dietrich day on the social web – that happens quite a bit with this gal!

    This is an important distinction here Danny. We hear all day long engage, engage!

    We need to be adding and “ing” to that!

    As in “be engaging!”

    Jeez, maybe that’s why so many people just post update after update with no real depth?

    They hear engage! engage! So, they go engage in what amounts to spam practices…

    Cheers bro!

      • says

        Bulls eye!

        Look at Victoria’s Secret on Facebook – – which at first glance indicates nearly 13 million fans. Everything added to their wall sees hundreds of comments. But click through those comments and you won’t see VS responding. Questions don’t need to be asked; why not a simple “Thanks for noticing” comment?

        Maybe because VS’ updates are mere broadcasts, no different than CNN tweeting asking you to click a link?

        Unfair comparison between Social Report and Arment Dietrich. Compare her company to Victoria’s Secret and she still wins the engagement factor.

        • says

          Hi Ari,
          I see you guys have good taste when is comes to Facebook pages :)

          Anyway, you’re making some good points about VS’ on Facebook.
          But I’m not sure about the comparison made with Gini’s company on the engagement field (sorry Gini I’m sure you’ll understand about the panties ^^) , here’s why :
          ~> first, because the target is not the same, for Victoria’s Secret it’s a large audience, for Arment Dietrich it’s a targeted community driven by a public of active people.

          ~> Consumers needs are not the same and the experience is about products (storytellings around pants…) compared to human services (advices, debates and sharing).

          So the engagements are way different: but it doesn’t mean there’s one with more than the other (even if we can measure it otherwise): VS, CNN won’t reply or comment, they have to bring the audience on their sites.
          Arment Dietrich maintains the conversation and structures the community.
          Even if the engagement in communities is a long debate, I think people need more clarity on this field.

          In any case, long life to Arment Dietrich !!

    • says

      It’s like the companies that say we have 24/7 customer support. But what they really mean is you spend 24 hours on a crazy phone tree to get 7 different people trying to understand your problem… πŸ˜‰

  3. says

    The second page seemed to be more interactive and that they have the sense of care to their followers.

    Thanks for bringing this up Danny. The difference is obvious yet this means a lot for a good business projection. At all times it’s good to give care by engaging to your fans and followers interactively.

    • says

      The funny thing, Kira, is that like you say, the difference is obvious. And yet so many are still missing that obvious point.

      Oh well… :)

  4. says

    Danny: This one’s too easy… Gini rocks! I choose her 12 times out of 10. Just sayin’…

    As for this part: “It’s a lively page – if lively equals automated updates every thirty minutes about what their service features are.”

    Unfortunately, I see this often in the real estate space. An Agent sets up a Fan page and it’s nothing more than post after post yelling “check out my listing” – no engagement. The good ones that I’ve seen (and they’re few and far between) are the one’s the hi-light the local neighborhood for the sake of showing what it’s like, the lifestyle, things to do, etc. Those engage with Fans in the best way.

    • says

      You know, the real estate industry really surprises me, Ricardo.

      If any industry has an opportunity to be really interactive across the social web, it’s that industry.

      But then you have the standard templates and designs and nothing else.

      Big opportunity, if only someone would run with it. :)

      • says

        Of course I agree with you… And don’t get me wrong, there’s some people doing some really great things with great success. But they’re few and far between (imho).

        The problem is the approach. And a lot of what I see is “me, me, me” and “check out my listings” “buy now” – all of that screams desperation.

  5. says

    There seem to be a lot of businesses out there who have the same checklist: Facebook: check, Twitter: check, Blog: check, Linkedin: What? Ok, yeah, check etc … but anyone can tick the boxes and set up accounts! The lack of awareness on how to use all these channels is fantastic … it’s a wonderful opportunity for the rest of us.

    • says

      For sure, Ameena – and the ones that see the opps and know how to attract and engage are the ones that will win out.

      It doesn’t matter if it’s books, business or boobies, either… πŸ˜‰

  6. says

    Hi Danny, I agree with your point about engaging. I manage our charity Facebook page and hope that we interact with our Facebook fans and society members in general. If you have a moment, would you mind having a glance at our page and giving some feedback on it? The last post has a typo – eek – forgive!

    Any other people’s constructive comments welcome too… Thanks :)

    • says

      Hey there Michael,

      I like it. It’s not my “field”, but love the educational aspect of it (especially the webinar sample video, great way to encourage sign-up).

      Cheers for sharing, sir. :)

  7. says


    I mean, thank you. :)

    I was chatting with Michael Schechter on his blog about this very topic. He thinks we take it for granted that it’s not rocket science and most people don’t get it. I disagree. I think it’s just what Ricardo says…talk with people, not at them. No one cares about YOU. They only care what you can do for them. I say it over and over and over again, but if you stroke other people’s egos, the return will be 10 fold.

    Why is that so hard?

    • says

      You’re welcome, miss, love the way your team handles your page.

      And that reminds me to jump over and share some thoughts with Mr. Schechter… πŸ˜‰

    • says

      but if you stroke other people’s egos, the return will be 10 fold.

      You are right. But it is the rare company that truly takes customer service seriously. There is huge opportunity there but people don’t seem to be willing to invest the time/money without a guarantee of a return.

    • says

      And did you see who’s mug was at the bottom of your page? Yep, me and my girl, filling up the AD facebook love fest. Geez, I really need to stalk a new person! :)

      In all seriousness, I wouldn’t freely share the spinsucks ‘goods’ and show up on your page if it wasn’t such an engaging place to be. The difference with your page and the ones that well, suck, is that yours mirrors every other social channel you have: engaging, welcoming and INTERACTIVE. Well deserved…I’m so glad that some random mother and child could help make that point for you!

  8. says

    I was going to make a comment involved some canned vegetables but forgot what it was.

    But yes spammy unpersonal continuous blanket messaging is not the way to attract a crowd. Plus Gini now gives everyone who Likes the page an official Arment Dietrich Snuggy

  9. says

    This is indeed an important distinction that social media practitioners should emphasize and need to be aware of. Facebook is a place for “conversation” and “conversion”, what I want to emphasize is that its not about getting tons of fans but its about converting fans into customers/clients by constant conversation and interaction with them.

    • says

      Hey there Aaron,

      Agreed, mate. Sure, for some organizations (say, Amber Alerts or similar), a more automated news feed (with manual updates for the latest news) would work.

      But for the majority of other organizations? Not a fan of the canned approach.

  10. says

    Yeah, this is a point I wish people thought about more often. I did a presentation once and showcased a page that was rather funny, really. All the page did was show pictures, uploaded by the company who owned the page, and each picture had a single like – from the owner of the page. Talk about talking to yourself!

    Being there and talking into the wind is not engagement. I would also posit that engagement is not about how you interact with people – it’s whether people WANT to engage with you.

    Thanks, Danny :)

    • says

      Ha, what’s the page, Margie? Or can’t you say? πŸ˜‰

      We had a big discussion about Liking your own stuff. I know I do it for guest blogs, but even then I’m wary as people might not realize I’m liking the guest blogger as opposed to me. πŸ˜‰

      But you’re right – you can be as engaging as you want to be, but if you’re not doing it in an “attractive” manner – forget it.

      Thanks, miss, and have a great weekend!

  11. says

    First of all Danny, I think you put way too much effort into this post. You really could have gotten by with the title, the screen captures and one sentence at the bottom: β€œEnough said.” :)

    The post really does draw a great distinction, and I think many companies confuse activity with engagement. They are not the same. The catch for most companies, and even more so for most SMB’s, is that vomiting a stream of content is easy, actual engagement is hard work. It is something I am working on myself in my B&M businesses. And while it takes time to build and there is little reward in the early phases, looking at those who are great at it (like Gini) shows how valuable it can be.

    • says

      Hahaha, duly noted for the next time, Adam. :)

      You hit the nail on the head. Social media isn’t a firesale – you need to be willing to put the time and effort in to really build whatever brand you’re looking to build.

      Yes, it’s a pain, but any business with long-term success goals goes through the same incubation stage. It’s the ones with stamina and the foresight to see ahead that make it.

      Cheers, Adam, great thoughts.

  12. says

    It really comes down to talking TO someone or talking AT them.

    I would much rather give my money to someone who seems interested in having a real dialogue. It comes down to the difference between “doing” social and “being” social.

    One is authentic, and one is – well, not so authentic.

    • says

      “Do and be” – exactly, Nancy.

      I can “do” a decent impression of Dizzy Gillespie, but only Dizzy could ever be Dizzy – everything else pales in comparison. :)

  13. says

    The post stroked my ego too! Thanks Danny! BTW I love the check this box to confirm you are human….makes me smile….it’s the little things! Happy Friday the 13th

  14. says

    This is one of those post that reminded me how bad my current FB page for TSL sucks. So, thanks a bunch for that Danny (and the ever-flawless Gini πŸ˜‰ ).

    Seriously though bud, this was a great example and a reminder too– I’m just not using FB as well as I should– and that’s got to change.



    • says

      You have a Facebook Page..? πŸ˜‰

      I love Facebook – I see it as the perfect bridge between Twitter and my blog, mate, and have had some great posts come from crowdsourcing questions and topics on there.

      Now – get on yours!!! πŸ˜‰

  15. says

    Here we are.
    The eternal quest to our actions is right here above us Danny.
    Since several weeks I’m questioning my entourage why do they use social media tools for ?
    (I’m a little harsh) If it’s to show their online presence, they can stay offline…
    But if it’s to make up a movement, and engaging intelligent actions to step forward and give a sense to their communication then some success will show on ~> as You Danny and Gini do it so well :)
    I permit myself to link to this post some thoughts I’ve wrote yesterday from my blog ( and I’d be very happy to have your comments about it.
    I think we are commonly trying to explain that people seem to misunderstand the real value of the online tools we use everyday and I definitely try to not feel like a sheep.
    All my kind thoughts to all.

    • says

      Hi there Yael,

      I’ll be sure to check the link out, miss. And agree – everyone has different ways to use Facebook (as well as every facet of social media).

      But I find the ones doing it really well are the ones that, as you say, are creating a movement. Here’s to that continuing. :)

  16. says

    I do engage with social media (twitter + facebook) and I try to post open ended questions as my status or Tweets in order to get a variety of feedback. Although engaging takes more effort than just being engaged, both are necessary to build your following and brand.
    Thanks for the great post!

    – Lark Miller

    • says

      Hi there Lark (awesome first name, by the way!),

      For sure – it takes time and commitment (and that’s something a lot of “experts” don’t tell you about).

      But it’s like any good relationship – if you want it to work and be a success, you need to put the time and commitment in.

      Every time. πŸ˜‰

  17. says

    Facebook seems to be the black sheep that gets the least of my time.
    As a result of this post I’m now disturbed by the frequency of MY avatar in the feed.
    It seems I have inadvertently become part of that “me me me” crowd. :(
    Duly noted…changes in the pipeline

    • says

      Hey there Jackie,

      Glad the post resonated, and I’ll look to stop by and see your “new” approach. Let us know how it goes. :)

  18. says

    I feel its just time for companies to stop trying to build numbers and concentrate on building a community for their company. If they concentrate on that then everything else will just follow.

    • says

      For sure, Justice.

      We’ve walked away from companies before because all they see is the build, and not the process. And you can’t usually help these companies… πŸ˜‰

  19. says

    Huh! Funny – I always thought that engaged meant someone who’s about to get married so they’re not talking or making the effort with anyone else and engaging meant that they’re sociable and willing to give people the time of day and at least get to know them a little.

    But hey, what do I know πŸ˜‰ lol.

    Excellent example DB.

    A.D. is the perfect example of what a Facebook page should look like and be like!

    Hat tip to Gini and the fab team over at Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks!

    Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

    • says

      Ah, you girls and your diamond rings, Ingrid… πŸ˜‰

      What I like about the AD page is that it’s clearly a team effort – so it’s a great testament to both Gini’s goals for AD, and the culture within.

      Something more companies could do to emulate. Especially those in the “comms” industry… πŸ˜‰

  20. says

    The difference between being engaged and engaging – that’s like the difference between owning a power drill, and actually using it.

    Just because someone actually has a tool, they then think that people will come to them based on the fact they possess a tool. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. The procedure here is as follows:

    1) Own/Buy/Possess a tool.

    2) Figure out how to use that tool to its best effects.

    3) Use that tool based on what you’ve discovered.

    This applies to everything, from social media outlets to power tools to playing any kind of sports to learning how to handle a wok. It’s a three step plan, and really, it makes sense because it’s how we get good at stuff.

    Now, to use these two Pages, Social Report have accomplished Step 1, but gone no further. Arment Dietrich have accomplished Steps 1, 2, and 3, and will continue to grow by repeatedly implementing Steps 2 and 3. The same applies to the difference between Tiger Woods and a once-a-month golfer.

    In fact, it applies to a lot of things. It’s a fact of life πŸ˜‰

    • says

      Trust a Brit to talk DIY… πŸ˜‰

      That’s a great analogy, mate, and love how you drilled down AD’s success (yes, I made that cruddy joke!) :)

      And like you say, these lessons don’t just stop on Facebook, or in business…

  21. says

    Hi, Danny.

    You have really drawn the line between engaging and engaged here. Gini and her team are really cool people and I admire them for what they have done. Now, if they can’t be called engaging, I don’t know what can be. :)

    I may have a Facebook page, but I admit, I haven’t done it the way Gini and her team has…I now know my mistake. Silly me. Now, to find time to do add updating my Facebook page to everything I am doing right now.

    Hmmm…Will my clients forgive me if I work on my Facebook page first before their logos or websites? I guess they’d hit the roof with that one, mate. :) So, I’ll just leave the online “engaging” for now and focus on being engaging offline. :) I guess being the tortoise that I am, I will get there soon, eh?

    Hope your weekend’s treating you well. πŸ˜‰

    • says

      Ha, that’s a great point you make amidst all the smileys, mate. πŸ˜‰

      It’s true – concentrate on the clients first and the rest second. Although an engaged page (or any other outpost) can definitely help draw clients in, it means nothing without them.

      Cheers, sir, hope you had a great weekend with you and yours. :)

  22. says

    The funny thing that most people don’t know about is edgerank which dictates what appears in your Facebook news feed. Those guys posting every 30 minutes are probably luck if 1 of those posts even appear on a wall of one of their likes!

    • says

      Hey there mate,

      Definitely, and a key decision in why so many people dislike your page too. Another great selling point of that company’s services… πŸ˜‰

  23. says

    Hi Danny, it’s a very important distinction you’ve made. I’ve written a post (link below) which is kinda related.

    Many businesses just think “oh we have to be using social media because everyone else is” and forget about the purpose behind it – to engage with people, not to have another channel to broadcast to them.

    • says

      So true, Jamie (and I’ll be sure to check your post) – it’s all well and good doing it. But at least make sure you know WHY!!! πŸ˜‰

  24. says

    So, I think the question should really be, after this long, why doesn’t everyone get it by now?

    How many times do we have to explain the humanization of business is taking place, all around us?

    Well, paradigm shifts take a while, especially when you’re in the middle of them and you’re dealing with the most resistant thing on the planet to change, humans.

    But.. all of us, who get it, can continue to spread the good message. Thanks Danny, I’m right here with you.

    • says

      It’s like the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, mate. Like you say, it takes a while to create a revolution – but we know they happen.

      We just need to make sure we’re leading the charge and showing why it’s such a core move that needs to happen.

      Cheers, mate!