Since when did engaging audiences become so hard?
Why do we suddenly need guides to tell us how to best get and sustain the attention of our audience? Of course, engaging audiences is the question that has been making marketers and advertisers tick for decades, but I believe engagement is really quite simple: know what works, and do it.
Sure, this may sound oversimplified, but bear with me. All the posts you will read about the “20 innovative ways to engage your audience” or “Simple tricks to boost engagement” build off of one core principle: attracting and sustaining the attention of your target audience.
Engagement has two definitions:
- To occupy, attract, or involve the interest or attention of another
- To participate or become involved in something
In this way, the textbook definition of engagement includes everything you ever need to know about engaging your audience, sans complicated tips and overfluffed articles. To put it simply, create content that attracts interest and start participating.
Engagement is not rocket science, but you do need to know how to do it right. Here’s how to achieve each step of engagement, every time:
Attract interest effectively
Ask yourself before you release any content how it achieves the goal of engaging your audience. In order to do this, first you need to know who the audience is that you are trying to engage. What is their demographic, age group, and interests?
Create a detailed outline of how your content will achieve your target goals, such as outlined by the presentation below. Never, ever release content haphazardly.
Creating long-term engagement isn’t just about throwing out a blog post or infographic that generates attention – it’s about creating a channel that speaks to the interests of your target audience.
In order to do this, you need to identify what your audience normally finds engaging. Study their online and offline habits to gain understanding about what they like and don’t like. Next, create content that you can confidently say is in line with what your target audience would like and study if it is effective after you release it.
By creating a space that is customized to the interests of your audience, you will bring them back time and time again naturally, because they confidently know you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for. Think of the blogs or websites you visit most – why do you continuously return to them, even without any advertisements or marketing schemes trying to reel you in? They have proven to you they will be a reliable source for what you are looking for. Their content’s function is to provide you the exact value you are seeking every time.
Get sincerely involved
Engagement is not a one-man show. To build true engagement, you need to create content that first attracts your audience, and then respond in order to get involved in a conversation with them. This applies across all of your channels – don’t send out email updates without responding to your audience’s email responses, don’t Tweet without re-tweeting and responding, etc. etc.
This useful infographic from CMSWire shows how to create a true online community, built off of conversations. But at the most basic level, what it is saying is to stop thinking that you can engage your audience without actually speaking in a two-way conversation with them. You just can’t, and what would be the point, anyway?
Your audience wants to see you as more than a brand with a microphone trying to scream for their attention. In fact, they will see right through you if you use this strategy. They want personal connection and companies that talk back. They want companies who listen to them and show them the respect they deserve. You need to earn their engagement – and it doesn’t come from self-absorbed begging for attention. Be a friend to your audience – one that listens, responds, and shows genuine interest.
There you have it – the quick, simple, no-frills guide to engaging your audience. The takeaway is to stop overthinking engagement and start doing the simple steps that are proven to work. Once you stop making it difficult for yourself, you can get to the heart of what you audience wants and deliver it to get longlasting results. But don’t just take our word for it, what do you think, is it really this simple?