If “consumer brand engagement” is what happens in isolation, in a consumer’s own individual mind and thoughts, then “social brand engagement” is the diametrical opposite of this. Social brand engagement is a social act full of culture, meaning, language, and values. With social brand engagement, relationships widen from person-brand to person-person-brand.
This can take different forms. While some consumers remain passive, others act more or less creatively in favor of or against brands. Some marketers are happy with the forms of evangelizing in which consumers simply spread brand messages. But the most authentic and believable form of endorsement, and therefore the optimal state, is marked by the creative expression and use of the brand. Here, people play positively and socially with the brand. They view it as a valued and valuable cultural resource and such social brand engagement has meaningful social, creative and productive outcomes.
In successful social brand engagement, both consumers and producers play active roles, but one party has to take the lead. Companies have historically had major problems letting consumers take over some of their former responsibilities. For successful authentication to happen, however, putting consumers in the driver’s seat is sometimes—but certainly not always—necessary.