When you start to blog as part of a comprehensive social media and digital reputation strategy, you need to know your purpose. Your purpose in writing is not necessarily just a business sale – it can instead be intellectual persuasion, education, entertainment, or maybe it’s just a self-indulgent rant to blow off some steam (in some circles that’s called thought leadership). Once you know your purpose, you can structure engagement more effectively. Here are a few examples of ways you can create more effective engagement for whatever purpose you are looking to accomplish:
Engagement When Educating
Engagement isn’t just getting someone to take the next action. In its purest sense, it’s them giving you their full attention right now in this moment. That attention is priceless and needs to be nurtured. When education is your purpose, interactive polls and surveys are a way to encourage engagement. Providing videos that hold a person’s interest with great graphics and movement are going to keep people on your site longer. If there is an active call to action (click here, do this, what’s next) within the video, you get extra points.
Engagement When Persuading
Persuasion can be done by tossing out 3rd party authority research, facts, and information. The problem is that authority facts are resolute, a period at the end of a sentence rather than a question. People are hesitant to dispute a recognized authority figure. What I have found is that sometimes it’s an emotional pitch that triggers engagement the most. Throwing down the gauntlet in a persuasion piece – basically, an “oh, yeah, so whatcha gonna say about that?” questioning tone in your writing will spur comments on a blog. Purposely writing one-sided and pushing that to the extreme works great. People can’t help but want to jump in and add the other side of the story when you deliberately leave it out. Don’t fill in the blanks of the argument – let them.
Engagement When Entertaining
It’s tricky spurring engaging while being entertaining. Like a comic on a tear, anyone who calls up at the stage isn’t engaging but rather is heckling. Only a select few will choose to do that. So, set up your comic “stage” as a welcoming “all can play” friendly zone place. Heckle back if you have to. Start the equivalent of a joke chain letter – basically a format that others can follow to play along. And engage with your comment stream to encourage them. Using the extemporaneous technique of “and, also” instead of “yes, but” when responding to outrageous and crazy comments so that the story builds and engagement grows.
Engagement in Thought Leadership Pieces
If you’re writing a reputation building piece, take a stand. Be a contrarian. Do what others won’t. Much like the persuasion piece, it’s ok to be a bit one-sided. Be firm. Don’t waffle and be weak in how you present. Be strong. Be forceful in tone. That “take no prisoners” attitude, especially if the ideas you’re presenting are new and fresh, will cause people to want to question you, to find out more, to talk back. That’s engagement!
Engagement Won’t Always Happen – Sorry…
If you serve a boomer generation demographic, or are in a field other than politics, celebrities, or religion, don’t get discouraged if engagement is sparse. Some topics just aren’t that interesting and their fans are shy. Finding the geeks of your niche helps and encouraging them to geek out is smart, but it won’t happen in all industries. Don’t worry about it – it’s not you. Keep trying different approaches and different social media channels and you’ll come across a winner. Test and improve, test and improve, and you’ll be fine. Photo courtesy of cambodia4kidsorg