A good content campaign has many goals. Increasing visibility is a plus, as is building a better brand reputation. You may primarily focus on driving traffic to your website, or just hope to use content to persuade existing audience members to purchase your products. But there’s one content factor you can’t afford to ignore, as it functions both as a factor for content success and as a goal you should strive to achieve: engagement.
Why is engagement so important?
· Engagement promotes familiarity and loyalty. When a user engages with your material directly, he/she will feel like a more integrated part of your brand community. That means a greater sense of familiarity and loyalty, which could drive purchasing decisions in the future.
· Engagement enhances visibility. Almost any kind of engagement has the potential to increase the visibility of your article. It may mean your article getting in front of a greater number of people, or your article developing a kind of aura around it based on existing discussions.
· It’s a sign of content effectiveness. Getting more engagement generally means that your content has been more effective — it has generated interest, which means it’s probably going to excel in other areas. Monitoring engagement gives you insight into how your content is performing.
But before you start trying to come up with a plan to “increase engagement” in some vague, general sense, you need to know that there are different kinds of engagement:
· User comments. Found at the bottom of blog posts.
· Discussion threads. Occurring in a forum setting, or on social media.
· Active participation. For things like surveys and quizzes.
· Social shares. Direct or indirect.
· Positive ratings. “Likes” and other reactions fit here.
Obviously, you’ll want a nice mix of all of these. How do you go about that?
Strategies for Greater Engagement
There are many ways to drive higher engagement, but these are some of the most effective:
1. Stir up controversy. Your first job is to make your posts more debatable by stirring up some controversy. This doesn’t mean you should write about something that’s going to outright offend people, or try to take a hard stance on something you don’t necessarily believe in. Instead, look for topics and angles where there are two sides of an argument, and take one side. This alone will likely encourage people to respond (and hopefully, discuss the issue with each other).
2. Surprise people. People love to be surprised. On an immediate level, your surprising post will stand out from the crowd, attracting more attention and visibility. Beyond that, some readers will feel a compulsion to reward you, somehow, for surprising them, either by recognizing it in the comments or by giving you a “like.” They may also be more compelled to share your post with friends, spreading the contagious “surprise” factor.
3. Ask your readers’ opinions. If you want your readers to engage in a conversation, why not start one by asking them a question? This is a common tactic often done at the end of an article; for example, a post about different strategies in headline writing might end with a question like, “what strategies have you found to be effective?” Doing this naturally prompts people to respond, but it’s even more effective when combined with the first tip in this section — strive to ask questions that you know are debatable, or questions that you know your users will be passionate about. The stronger they feel, the better.
4. Get your readers involved. It’s also a good idea to encourage active participation. Interactive forms of content are easier to engage. Unfortunately, you don’t have many options when it comes to interactive content. You might develop a quiz, such as one that evaluates your readers’ current needs, or you might create some kind of survey or poll to reflect your readers’ opinions. These aren’t the only two options, but they are two of the most common and effective.
5. Enlist more content mediums. Including more mediums in your content strategy will not only help your content become more visible and easier to interact with, it’s going to make a broader range of readers interested in interacting with it. For example, some users engage more readily with video content, while others are more likely to react to in-depth written features. Cycle these different types of content through in your strategy, and offer pieces with multiple mediums incorporated.
6. Reward your users for engaging. This is an extremely important piece of the puzzle; you have to let your readers know that you appreciate their engagement. This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but know that your efforts will be noticed. For example, you might get active in the discussion thread as a participant when it develops, or you might thank one of your readers specifically for sharing one of your content pieces on social media.
With these strategies in consistent practice, I can almost guarantee you’ll earn more engagement in your content strategy. They may not turn your campaign around overnight, but if used regularly, you’ll start to see more comments, shares, and participation in growing patterns over time. Use these engagements as metrics to measure your content effectiveness, and reincorporate that feedback to take your content to an even higher level.