3 Easy Engagement Fails

Everyone wants more engagement: more visitors, more participants, more feedback, more customers. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to achieve the opposite?

Three TOOs to avoid:


TOO Creepy

When someone I don’t know addresses me by my first name, it creeps me out.

When it happens in person, I get a little chill down my spine, and I quickly check to make sure I’m not wearing a nametag.

When it happens in my inbox, I don’t love it either. If the sender name is something like ‘Jackie Smith, CEO, Company Name’, I’m especially unimpressed. Instead of feeling personally engaged, I feel like shouting out “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!”

Ahem. But really. When you talk to people close to you, do they always use your first name? “Hello, Melissa! How are you, Melissa? It’s great to see you, Melissa?” Do they put ‘FIRST LAST, YOUR MOTHER’ in the sender field, or do they sign ‘YOUR MIDDLE CHILD, FIRST LAST.’

It’s weird. If I don’t know you, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t know me. Ease up on the mail merge and save piping for something more useful.


TOO Soon

You don’t tell all your secrets to strangers. I mean, I don’t.

Okay, maybe it’s different somewhere like a doctor’s office. You expect to go there and deliver pretty personal information, maybe even to new staff members you’ve never met before.

Still, you wouldn’t offer up the same details to people on the street. Anyone who walks up and asks me where I live, how much I weigh, and how much money I make — well, thankfully, this has never happened, but I can assure you we’d both walk away unhappy.

I totally understand why people want all of this information. It’s super useful to know your community, your employees, your customers very well. If you have more facts, you can engage them more effectively and be more helpful, right?

Back off. Earn some trust, then knock again very politely.


TOO Pushy

You’re not the boss of me. Let’s just clear that up.

What makes you think you can go around demanding answers? Sometimes this looks like aggressive telemarketers. Sometimes it’s a survey where every answer is mandatory. Come on!

I decide what I tell you and when. If you’re trying to have a conversation with me, make it natural. When you’re visiting a friend, you don’t bring along a script to make sure she stays on track, right? Of course not [right?]. You let the conversation flow, and you learn more as you go.

Again: I know people want my answers. I’ve got so much to say! But really, pushing doesn’t help. Even if you feel like you absolutely must know how tall I am or where I live, if you try to force me to answer, you might be forcing me to drop out, to hang up, and to disengage.

Easy does it. Minimize your must-haves to make sure it’s a positive experience.


From the perspective of companies and other organizations: There’s a lot of competition out there, and plenty of incentive to build engagement fast.

From the perspective of real people: Give us a break!