What does it mean for a brand to engage?
It is true that social media and social communities are commitment for any company. In order to keep customers interested and active participants in the conversations, you have to post regularly and post interesting content. Consumers will not engage with your posts, if the content is not something new, exciting or interesting. There is also the job of posting at a steady and regular pace so that consumers either do not forget about you, or on the other end, get sick of you posting too frequently.
I think it is also important that the brand make it known they want to hear from consumers. It can be very beneficial, long term and for brand loyalty, that your customer feels they can trust you or that you want to hear their opinion. Using social networks as a way for not only you to connect with your consumer, but also for your consumer to connect with you, is great for this sort of thing. Activities such as feedback channels, polls about new products or changes to products, etc. all let your consumer know that you hear them and are there for their needs or wants.
When do I choose to engage with a brand?
I am not someone who regularly engages with or even follows many brands. However, I am on my social media everyday, so why aren’t I more involved? I think it depends what a person’s motive is for using social media. Most of the time, I am not using it as a way to discover new brands or new products; I am using it to see what my friends are up to or to post my own content. I think I would be more interested in company accounts if I knew they were going to be posting information about giveaways or deals. The couple times I have engaged with a brand account, I did so to enter a giveaway. As cheap as it sounds, I am completely down for free merchandise, and do not particularly care where it comes from. However, as we all know, if we get a free sample of something and enjoy it, we are likely to purchase it for real.
Stemming from my example of free stuff, I think a good way for brands to get recognition and promotion, via their social networks, would be to give away some merchandise with their logo. Anytime their customer wears the product, they are essentially an advertisement for your company.