How Do You Keep People Engaged?

I’ve just come to discover something and wanted to share it. Harold Brogan, Creator of Crario

My son, Harold, has never cared about a toy in his life. For maybe the first few minutes, it’s interesting, and then, it floats away to the discard pile. The same is true of most of the video games he plays. Though he loves the lore of Mario, he could care less after acquiring the game whether he plays it all that often. And then there’s Minecraft.

Harold plays the adventure game Minecraft (so do I, so does his sister). And recently, he used a tool called Skin Creator for Minecraft to rebuild a model of a character he made in the game, and then send away to have that character printed onto a plastic toy via (loosely) 3D printing.

What came in the mail is this:

Can’t see the video? Click Here.

He hasn’t stopped holding it more than a few times, and those times, the toy has been in his pocket, or in his direct line of site.

How Do You Keep People Engaged?

Ownership. Give them ownership.

My children both teach me this. My daughter likes various cartoons that she watches on YouTube or Netflix, but when she breaks out the sketchpad and starts creating her own characters for the stories, that’s when there’s something there.

In one of the courses I launched, Brave New Year, the community has come to do a lot more than what I originally started with, and every bit of it has been glorious. Tania Dakka has done many wonderful things, including stepping in to organize an ebook of advice written by the other bravelings in the community. Yvonne Fitzgerald is creating a Brave Day event (more on that when we get more details). Mike Davenport creates all kinds of great graphics on the fly. Greg MacDonald created little Brave avatars for us ( see mine on my facebook profile).

They own the experience. I started it, but it’s theirs.

Give People Ownership And They Will Stay Engaged

I’m experimenting with other ways to do this. For instance, I’m about to relaunch my blogging and content creation course, Blog Topics: The Master Class, and I’ve asked the graduates of previous classes to consider being adjunct professors. My thought is that as people have evolved and learned in the process of the experience, they have more to offer those up and coming. But more so, those graduates will learn even more from the experience because now they’ll have their teaching hats on, which will deepen the learning, expand the connections, and give them a connection to new people, thus promoting the potential for new opportunities.

This isn’t hard to do.

Engagement For Bosses

Let the employees own as much of the experience as possible. Southwest Air allow their flight attendants to create their own preflight announcements, provided the federally-required bits get worked in there in some way. And that’s probably the key, too. There are requirements that are part of any system. I imagine the “sandwich artists” at Subway have a lot of requirements as to how they go about measuring or doing various parts of their business, but I’m also certain that they can customize their processes at some point in the game, too.

Engagement in Selling

The classic experience of car sales is “what color best suits you?” But with people like Mini and Scion (and seemingly all small-shaped cars), this has gone beyond that into a kind of now-market (instead of aftermarket) experience of customization. Microsoft does that with their Windows Phone marketing, asking people what they’re about and showing just how customizable their device is to bring that experience to life.

Engagement in Content Creation

If you let people own the experience here, instead of having “readers” or “fans” or whatever term you want to make people feel lesser, then there’s a great success that can happen. Companies like Hubub and Flipboard and Medium all know this, and so I’m wondering when a “real” mainstream magazine will learn and break open their boundaries and let others create on a peer level such that the readers become the owners.

Engagement Is About Ownership

Are you an employee? Do you work for someone else? Tell me I’m wrong: a lot of your apathy relates to the fact that you technically don’t own much of the experience besides the headaches.

Business is personal, and as someone keenly passionate about equipping the personal business revolution, I aim to help make many more owners successful. Even if you start by owning your cubicle and owning your intentions, I will help you find that ownership that keeps you engaged. I promise.

My #1 spot for engagement?

I’m glad you asked.

And thanks so much for your support.

–Chris… runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Andrzej Tucholski

    Media 1.0 were the one-way stream between creator and the audience. Media 2.0 shifted the idea and used top-level sources to create/curate “user-generated” content for better insight and broader information. Would that be “media 3.0″, when “people” are actually creating the top-level content along with professionals? Exciting but also a little scary – Internet still lacks widely promoted ethics (like relying on what’s proven). We’re living in interesting times, that for sure :)

    Apart from that, I love the idea of giving more permission to the customers. If “being good” can actually earn more money then we have a spectacular win here!

    (PS: Minecraft!!!)

    • Chris Brogan

      Hooray all around, then! : )

  • Bill Nadraszky

    I agree with your engagement model of giving people something to hold onto. I love the social media aspect of “I own my stream and will take care of it” as it means that people are doing more on social but at the same time it seems so many people are losing their blogs because it is so much more work.

    I don’t want to lose my blog, it is really the biggest part of me online but at the same time I want to give up so much of the control that is also mine, let other people crowdsourse and own more of it by adding their own streams to it.

    Thanks for this Chris because it keeps me thinking more of how I can have engagement myself and give more engagement to others to hold onto

    • Chris Brogan

      No reason to give up your blog, but what about guest posts, maybe or finding like minded folks, OR contributing to a group project that’s not your primary blog?

      • Jason HJH

        Indeed, guest blogging is one of those popular strategies many blogs pursue when they get to a certain size. Time-factor has always been a perennial constraint for writers, but time if often wasted because we often try to squeeze content out, and attempt to draft a piece to meet deadlines, and that’s a sign that we need to read or/and think more.

  • Hugh Briss

    I agree. A good example: Drive through a neighborhood and compare the condition of the homes that the owners live in with the ones lived in by renters.

    • Chris Brogan

      Precisely. : )

    • Scott Ayres

      Hey now.. I’m a renter and my house looks much better than anyone around me that owns their’s.. :P

      • Hugh Briss

        There are always exceptions to the rule, Scott, I was generalizing. :) Some people, like you, take pride in their home whether it’s rented or they own it but in general, I think people tend to be more inclined to take good care of things if they own them.

  • Nancy S

    Thank you. Sometimes I need moments like me to smack me upside the head.

    • Chris Brogan

      I love smacking wonderful people upside the head. : )

  • Scott Ayres

    Love the video of your son.. I know how much this moment means to you.. well done..

    • Karen Clark

      Agree! So much of who I am as a biz person is due to lessons learned in parenting. I love this. Oh and I’m going to have to let my son do that too, now. He’s obsessed with that game!

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  • Martin Smith

    And if he decides he is more interested in Mario than World of Warcraft, the toy bears an amazing resemblance to Luigi!

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s a mashup of Luigi and a Minecraft creeper. :)

  • elena lopez garcia

    It’s a very good text, has a great example for that you be able to understand this. I agree with you. The employees, fans, followers are part of the success of a company. Without them there is no bussiness.

    The ideal as you point out here, that skill or training of each employee student demostrates you have a successful future, could become entrepreneur.

    • Chris Brogan

      Exactly right. :)

  • Rick Williams

    Chris, that’s a really cool post (love the Vine of Harold). Its so neat finding people like you by accident (thanks Zite) and get blown away by a thought that turns my thinking in the right direction….little did you know that 5 minutes ago, you clarified some jumbled things in my brain. Following you now. Thanks, man.

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s what I aim to do. Stick around. :)

  • Career eXit Strategy

    Interesting mention of the car sales analogy. A recent tv show on Spike TV Car Lot Rescue has the consultant training salesmen to ask customers on why they are buying a car and for what reason. Get to know tour customers wants and needs.

    • Chris Brogan

      Sales is service, and that requires great questions. Agreed.

  • Chris Brogan

    You can certainly make a business around a blog but it’s harder than ever just to type and make money.

  • Jason HJH

    High impressions from search result, but low click-through rates and comments could indicate problems with your copywriting techniques…That should alleviate your frustration since you’d know what you need to improve.

  • elissaoj

    Many non-profits do this by creating ambassadors and/or creating tangible correlates for each donation level. Getting people to share their personal stories is another way to create ownership. I’d love to see the innovative ways non-profits are working to push the envelope of ownership and engagement, especially those that can’t leverage cute puppy photos.

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed for sure.

  • profesional web design

    Wonderful article!! I follow most of them already thank you for sharing

  • Sean Michael Kelly

    Absolutely true! One of the reasons I’ve always had difficulty with “standard” work is the usual lack of ownership. Some jobs have been well-paying jobs with much responsibility and way too little authority. Not enough ownership. Since then, I’ve learned a lot, identified and am building a brand that I own, because it’s me! Chris, you’ve actually been inspirational in a number of areas quietly in the background. I hope someday to share a mug or a pint with you!

    • Chris Brogan

      Super happy to hear that, Sean. And thank you for the offer. We should make that happen smoe day. : )

  • Tania Dakka

    This is not only a great post for business, but parenting. I read this this morning as we moved through the before-school chaos, the whole time, “ownership” fluttered around in my head. Trying to give the kids ownership of their responsibilities is a big struggle for me. Thanks for the inspiration (and the awesome mention:))!

    And thank you for always being you. Because of you, we (the Brave) have found who we are.

    • Chris Brogan

      But of course! : )

  • Markus Almond

    Incredible post! I recently watched a documentary about stress. And one thing I found interesting is that business owners and high level managers have much less stress (and health issues) than their subordinates. Low level employees have more frequent problems with being overweight, heart disease, etc. It’s believed that people who feel they have no control in the workplace are far less happy. But it’s possible to change that by finding a hobby or starting a part-time business that you have complete control over. This can empower a person and reverse the effects of stress and poor health. I completely agree with this post. If you can give you’re customers ownership and a sense of control, they will keep coming back. It’s a basic human need and something that we all deserve.

    • Chris Brogan

      Really great advice. What an awesome stress-buster there. : )

  • Jared Latigo

    Very nice as always Chris. You personal touch in all your work continues to amaze me. Thanks for the easy to understand analogies and breakdown of several parts of our lives.

    • Chris Brogan

      Grateful that you’re part of the story, Jared. If you weren’t here, it’d be less useful to write this.

  • Dave Crenshaw

    Your son is adorable! Sometimes kids are our best teachers. Brilliant piece, Chris!

    • Chris Brogan

      Mine is a teacher all the time. No question.

  • My Department Plan

    Great point, Chris – treat people like adults and trust them to manage things their own way. I’m sure your kids love being “allowed” to have ownership. It probably makes them feel grown-up, important, and mature.

    I see this problem in my own industry – budgeting software for businesses. Enterprise level software is too inflexible to accommodate the daily needs of individual departments. Department managers need to be creative and distinct with their data, to take ownership. I don’t think a lot of companies realize this yet, and their broad, generic software doesn’t allow ownership or engagement. Suffice it to say, the ownership thing is applicable in all kinds of situations!

    • Chris Brogan

      it gets so strange in larger organizations. The level of trust seems to lower with the more seats in the building.

  • Bonnie B

    I love Harold’s creative spark. Making the toy out of an otherwise 2D character is a very clever way to engage in the 3D world.

    • Chris Brogan

      Was a swell thing. Didn’t exactly know that he’d even care, but wow, he loves the thing. : )

  • igobydoc

    Great post Chris. So relate to this right now. Working on making change. But, that skin creator toy is sic!


    • Chris Brogan

      It’s totally awesome. Do it. : )

      • igobydoc

        Scary! But fun scary! =)

  • Michael Vera

    Minecraft is pretty nerdy. Sorry. Maybe introduce him to something cool?

    • Chris Brogan

      We’re nerds around here.

    • Susan Giurleo

      Nerds rule the world. Seriously. When my kid was called a ‘nerd’ at school, I high fived him. Good future in nerd-dom.

  • Millipede Media

    Great piece, I think you nailed the essence of engagement. But weirdly what attracted me to this post is Harold. My nephew is also massively addicted to Minecraft….and he has the same jacket.

  • Long Island Marketing Company

    Love the fact that you are highly engaged on your post about engagement. Great to see you practice what you preach by replying to a good number of comments on this post.

  • Jim Hacking

    Chris, great post. My son is so excited about ordering the skins.

  • Iain Robson

    Giving people ownership is something that they teach in teacher’s college. They say that if you make the rules with the students they are more likely to follow them because they were part of the process.

    It’s interesting how that same process can be translated into so many different areas.

    I suppose a question would be now, how do you give ownership to people?

  • Donald Suess

    Chris, nailed it on so many levels. Thanks for the post. Hope you’ll recognize those levels in my work in the future.

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  • Claw toes

    really enjoyed looking through your blog!!

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