Motivation - August 6, 2021


Discover how to uplevel your relationship with customers by using this innovative engagement framework!

📱A couple of friends are talking but one of them just goes “uh-huh” while scrolling the phone pretending to listen.

💤A marketing intern spends hours creating a post for her Facebook page however,  once published, the post raises no interactions

👨‍🏫A professor gives a speech but no student raises his hand to ask questions at the end of it.

What have all these situations in common?

Poor engagement, that’s right!  Those who are supposed to interact are in a state of apathy. 

How do we solve this problem then?

In this article we’ll explore the concept of engagement, thanks to a well known framework developed by Amanda Slavin. We’ll see how engagement is actually a wide-ranging concept that affects all relationships in our life. However we’ll stick to practical examples from the daily life of a brand entrepreneur.


As marketers and entrepreneurs, we tend to think that engagement belongs only to the relationship between customers and the brand. In reality, it belongs to all relationships that can be built between humans: love ones, friendships, working relationships etc. 

At the basis of every healthy relationship there’s true mutual interest that makes it thrive. The variety of these relations means that interest can be measured with different indicators as well. Social media managers could measure it with likes, interactions, comments. Hr managers could measure it with high rate absences from work. Bloggers could measure it with high bounce rate levels from their websites.

Everyone has its own definition of engagement, but the principle at the basis is the same: 

“A person feels deeply inspired and takes real steps to make a change in their life, the way they think, or the way they act. They set goals and transform their life to achieve an objective based on how a specific message or interaction resonated with them.”

Amanda Slavin


Today’s inspirational author is Amanda Slavin

Ex-teacher, she’s the Founder & CEO of CatalystCreativ. The company is a brand consulting company that helps firms to plan and achieve their brand goals. To do this, she and her team developed the Seventh Level Framework of Engagement, which we’ll now dive into.

Sometimes we tend to think that engagement is a binary concept: we’re either engaged or not engaged. But according to Amanda, engagement is divided into 7 layers of intensity that start from “disengagement” and arrive at  (hopefully) “literate thinking”. 

The aim is to pass through all these levels to get to the top, where the user has completely aligned with your core values and mission. Within this last level, people advocate for your brand and share it without you asking them to. 

That’s every entrepreneur’s dream!

Let’s quickly take a look at the seven levels.

1 – Disengagement 

In this layer, the users are totally apathetic toward the brand. They’re idle and hard to push toward action. They don’t engage, communicate or interact with you 


  • Brand: ehi user, take a look at my adv!
  • User: mh nah, whatever.


Learn more about your audience, understand where they communicate and how. 

2 – Unsystematic Engagement

It’s the layer of confusion. The user is uncertain about what you’re trying to communicate. Maybe it’s time to review your communication style. 


  • Brand: *says things in jargon*
  • User: mmmmh what?!


Try communicating your message as though you were talking to a child. Everybody should understand what you are trying to say, otherwise they’ll feel insecure and give up. 

3 – Frustrated Engagement

In this situation, you managed to gain the attention of the user, but it’s still very weak. He/she gets distracted easily and doesn’t act as you would want.


  • Brand: Subscribe to my mailing list for interesting content
  • User: Oh yes I’m interested! Wait, I’m more interested in this shoe sales adv on your website. Let me click on that first!


It’s time to go over the customer path to the action you want him/her to do. Is it clear from distractions? Are all gestures of the environment pointing toward the same direction?

4 – Structure-Dependent Engagement

Here the user is encouraged to take an action, but it’s something simple and easy. The action doesn’t require effort and doesn’t diverge from his/her beliefs. 


  • Brand: could you answer this two-answer survey for me?
  • User: It takes only two seconds of my time, no big deal, I’ll do it!


Use the results that you got from this first attempt of interaction, to built even more meaningful attempts in the same direction.

5 – Self-Regulated Interest

In this level, the user shares interest in the message of the brand, but he’s encouraged to take action through a reward. His true interest lies in the final prize.


  • Brand: If you subscribe to my mailing list I’ll give you a 5% discount on the next purchase. 
  • User: Oh yes, I really need a discount!


Here, giving out rewards is a good strategy, but it’s important not to steer away from the original path. Are the rewards giving the results that I need, to level up in the scale of engagement? Or is he user only interested in the gift and not in my brand?

6 – Critical Engagement

In this level the user receives the message and decides to take action. The message is inspirational and the action will make a change in the life of the user. We are finally having an impact in his/her life. 


  • Brand: Read this article I wrote on the importance of taking a break to meditate during long work hours. 
  • User: I find that’s true and after reading the article I’m persuaded to meditate. After a while I embedded meditation into my daily routine. 


Here the real deal is to translate the brand values into a message that will inspire people to take actions. Plus, audience successes should be used as a leverage to encourage newbies. 

7 – Literate Thinking

To cite Amanda: “Characterized by a person’s reflection using prior knowledge, experience, feelings, and values; they connect with the message on an intrinsic and personal level and that direct alignment with their personal beliefs leads to loyalty and action without incentive.”


  • Brand: *does nothing*
  • User: I want to show the world the boots that I bought from the brand. I love them and I want people to know that they are amazing. I get nothing in return, I just adore them. 


At this point, you’ve conquered the sacred Graal of engagement: people feel a deep connection with the brand and the only challenge is to keep them loyal and satisfied with your campaigns and recognition. 

In Conclusion

This framework helps not only to build the user path toward advocacy and full engagement, but also to understand what are the main problems a marketer can encounter. What kind of relationship do I have with users and what can I do to pass to the next level?

Dr. Slavin gave a majestic contribution to studies that help improving the quality of the relationship not only between customer-brand but in general, among people. 

After all “we are all humans attempting to connect with other humans, and fostering deeper engagement is the foundation for all meaningful human connection”.

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