How to Reach the Seventh Level of Engagement

Amanda Slavin

If you’ve arrived at this post, chances are you’re a marketer, manager, or someone who interacts with people on a daily basis. But I have a marketing question that transcends industry, profession, personality and age.

Would you ask someone to marry you if you had no idea how they would respond to the following questions?

  1. What is your name?

  2. What are your favorite foods?

  3. What songs get you out on the dance floor?

  4. Do you hate my favorite sports team?

Of course you wouldn’t! If you were asking someone to make a lasting commitment to you, you would take the time to get to know your partner and allow them to build a relationship with you.

This is how life works. Why should marketing or managing be any different?

Enter, "Engagement"

If you translate the marriage scenario into marketing language, you basically end up with the dilemma of audience engagement, and the marketer’s never-ending quest to win it and hold onto it.

But first, let’s take a step back. Why does engagement even matter? Let’s let the numbers do the talking:



So clearly, engagement is vital to having successful relationships in life and business. But it doesn’t stop there.

Apathy is the enemy of engagement, and, as we have seen in recent years, an unengaged world is an unpleasant place to live.

Young people failing to show up to the polls on election day? The effects of climate change running rampant around the globe? An ocean of misunderstanding between liberals and conservatives, widening with each day?

We have apathy to thank for all of this. It’s truly disheartening. But we do have a powerful weapon for combatting, and even reversing it: engagement. By deeply, meaningfully engaging people to care about these issues, we can start to see small vestiges of change.

Okay, okay, engagement is a huge deal. Is there anyone getting it right?

Yes! I dare you to take a look at this list and deny that any of these people or brands doesn’t have a highly engaged, crazy devoted, put-my-life-on-the-line-for-you group of followers.


 Lady Gaga  
 Taylor Swift
 Justin BIeber
What do all of these brands and celebrities have in common? They’ve reached the Seventh Level of engagement. Doesn’t your brand deserve that same level of devotion? Building up to that place requires that you first develop a nuanced understanding of engagement. 

It turns out, the definition of engagement we’ve all been working with is wrong.

Okay, maybe not completely, totally “wrong.” But it’s an incomplete definition, to say the very least.

Marketers have historically relied on digital tools to tell us what engagement metrics we should be paying attention to. Namely, likes, comments, and shares. We’ve been told that disengagement is BAD and engagement is GOOD and that with enough ad dollars, we can buy our way out of the first static state and directly into the second one.

It’s time for us to stop relying on tools to tell us what engagement looks like. Instead let’s determine meaningful metrics for ourselves, and then select the right tools to track them.

In reality, engagement is a dynamic spectrum, and your audience can move back and forth between many levels. Most importantly, your audience is NEVER simply “engaged” or “disengaged.” Like all human states, it’s just not that black and white. 



I propose we adopt a more modern, accurate method of measuring engagement: The Seventh Level Method.

Along with my team, I set out to create a comprehensive tool for measuring and improving engagement: one that had already proven wildly successful in an education setting, based on the methods of renowned researchers Bangert-Drowns and Pyke.

This method, the Seventh Level, breaks down audience engagement into -- you guessed it -- seven levels, based on specific actions and attitudes. The objective is to help brands with audiences in the bottom three levels adjust their marketing strategies to climb through the top 4. The ultimate goal is to reach the Seventh Level: a coveted state of deep brand integration into your audience’s lives, based on their personal values.



And what can you expect to see once your brand has reached the Seventh Level? 

While your brand isn’t likely to turn into a Beyonce or Patagonia overnight, starting on a journey towards the Seventh Level is the best thing you can do for the future of your organization.

Time and time again we’ve seen proof that customers at the Seventh Level are a business’ best asset. They actively seek out new projects to take on at work. They come to your defense if you’re attacked on social media. They participate in your campaigns, open every newsletter you send and, most importantly, integrate your brand into their very identities. The immense value of that type of relationship can’t be quantified.



Get me to the Seventh Level!

Try out the Seventh Level for your brand by completing the Seventh Level Blueprint.

Do you have a multitude of questions? A haunting need to reach the Seventh Level tomorrow? Those are normal reactions to learning about this method, and I urge you to begin your journey to the Seventh Level today. I’ve never met a brand or individual who’s regretted it.


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