The term quantum entanglement describes a relationship between pairs of particles that extend through time and distance… an action on one particle in the pair influences the other. Harry Hawk in 2010 coined the term social entanglement (on Episode 597 (Auto Play) of the Hobson & Holtz Report, podcast) to describe a similar connection between brands and consumers in response to a marketing mindset that overly focuses on the active stage of consumer brand interaction… known colloquially as engagement.
This mindset seeks continuous or continual engagement with a consumer without any contemplation that the consumer may not be fully devoted to the relationship and may have 100’s of additional brand relationships. @BrianBoland quoting a TechCrunch article (4/3/2014) “we noted, ‘The total number of Pages Liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year. Brian is the VP of Ads Product Marketing at Facebook; this implies consumers have 100’s or even 1000’s of Brand relationships.
In real life consumers have connections to Brands they do and do not grant custom, including those they aspire to and those they eskew. It is neither sustainable nor beneficial for a brand to continuously bombard their customers with attempts to engage.
My theory of social entanglement posits a connection between brands and consumers that survives time and distance and is actively maintained by both parties. Engagement typically is triggered when an individual consumer has a unmet need or desire; they may be seeking new clothes, shoes, a new car, a new home, a new job, a place eat, travel or just something to watch or enjoy. Consumers may be entangled with multiple Brands that can meet their need (e.g., Ford, GM, Honda).
Engagement is also triggered by exposure to content. Traditional marketing theory suggests consumers purchase from a selection of Brands of which they had previous awareness. This is known as a consumer “decision set.” Today through search tools, consumers easily find Brands of which they had no prior awareness; consumers quickly locate friends, neighbors and even strangers to help rank, suggest, and rate those brands/products. Brand loyalty, prior awareness of Brands, and intimate knowledge of products or services is not longer needed to “drive” purchase decisions.
Today there is an even greater imperative for Brands to entangle consumers. When purchase decisions are “afoot” a recent study of KLM demonstrates that socially active (e.g., entangled) Brands receive greater consideration restoring some element of a decision set to consumer purchases.
Historically a brand could only attempt to maintain awareness which was difficult to measure, track and maintain. Using digital marketing tools entanglement can be created, maintained, monitored, nourished and measured. Entanglement goes beyond simple awareness through consumer grants of permission sets to each entangled brand. Entanglement and digital marketing tools, when properly set up with transparency and respect can detect the changes occurring before or after consumers become cognizant of unmet needs allowing a brand to increase communication frequency and volume.