We all know the drill. To be competitive these days, brands need to engage with customers regularly. Technology and social platforms have made it easy to do so, and there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for engagement.

The problem is that too many brands are getting it wrong.

To tackle the goal of engagement, many entrepreneurs end up pursing digital strategies that engage by leading conversations, creating tones and setting customer expectations. Instead, digital engagement strategies these days should be doing the opposite, providing the opportunity for customers to lead the way.

Robert Hegeman, digital creative director at Siegel+Gale, a global branding firm, emphasizes that engagement goes beyond simply responding to and talking with consumers.

Today, brands need to be hyper-focused on delivering experiences rather than delivering messages.

To demonstrate this, Hegeman points to Airbnb and HomeAway, two companies that provide a platform that matches travelers with private rental accommodations. HomeAway was 3 years old when Airbnb launched in 2008.

To fend off the new entrant, HomeAway developed and spent millions of dollars on a digital branding strategy that described why it was different from Airbnb. Airbnb, on the other hand, focused its efforts on creating unique and compelling experiences for its consumers, comparing itself to no one.

Today, HomeAway has a market cap of roughly $3 billion, while Airbnb’s valuation has soared to $20 billion.

The takeaway lesson, according to Hegeman, is that telling people what you do and do not do is no longer the most effective use of your consumers’ attention. Brands need to perform and prove their worth through actions and delivering extraordinary experiences.

This strategy requires excruciating focus and a good deal of resources to get it right. If you want to get off on the right foot, however, consider these simple things you can do to improve your digital strategy right now.

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