Ask Not What Your User Can Do For You

By 26 Nov 2017
Chances are your company is already doing a lot to get its audience working for it – buying traffic, SEO, promotions, advertising, you name it. But now those pesky advertisers, always examining your numbers and looking to optimize milking the audience cow, are looking for this mysterious holy grail called ‘user engagement’.

Now that there’s a price tag on it and ways to measure it – you set up to increase it. Shouldn’t be so difficult, right? After all, they’re already there – what’s the big deal in getting them to stay? How hard can this ‘user engagement’ thing be? Can’t we just study our numbers and optimize our product? Why not just look at what is successful out there and do the same?

If user engagement is an issue for your product or service then you should be asking yourself some more fundamental questions.

‘User engagement’ already suggests an aspect of a product or service, something that by following a few simple steps is easily improved. Using the term suggests, once again, trying to manipulate the audience to do something for you. It also suggests that users are other people, not us. This line of thinking leads to a ‘Shiny beads for the natives’ gold’ mentality. It rarely leads to any real traction.

Instead of debating how to make your product ‘engaging’, think and research how it can generate real value for the people who are using it, be it in being useful, entertaining or helping them feel better about themselves. Treat your users with the same respect you expect from a service provider. As basic as it may sound, it is not as commonly practiced as one would expect. If you are in position to, try to educate your advertisers about the value of doing the same – it’ll serve them better as well.

Focus on ‘value for the people using my product’ and not ‘user engagement’. It may seem harder at first, it’ll make it much easier in the long run – and you probably already know it’s the right thing to do anyway.