Feb 09, 20164m read
Content Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement
When Facebook emerged back in 2004, nobody could have possibly predicted the explosion it would create. Practically speaking, Facebook launched an entire industry that had never existed, but back in the day, it seemed like a stretch. I remember thinking to myself, “a yearbook? online? who would ever use that?” and yet today, it has transformed the way we connect with others.
As you may recall, Facebook began with a niche audience: i.e. Harvard, then Boston area Universities, Ivy leagues, and finally expanding to college students across the country. Only two years later, in 2006, did it open itself up to the general population. As a result, the Facebook already had a loyal following of a targeted community–causing its expansion into more diverse segments to come with a lot of hype.
Of course, now everyone–including a surprising number of animals and small children–have Facebook. This clearly reflects the obvious: Facebook as a brand has long surpassed simple customer loyalty, reigning supreme as one of the decade’s most influential cultural obsessions. In fact, many of us check our Facebook before we even brush our teeth.
So what can we learn from Facebook that can help us attain similar prominence? Her are some of our favorite insights:
From Mark Zuckerberg to Richard Branson, to Oprah Winfrey–your brand needs to have a face. People want to know about the founders of a company, learn from their expertise, and admire their charisma. Getting people obsessed with your brand starts at the source.
So put forth an effort to show the world what you are made of. Write inspirational, thought provoking content, put a piece of yourself into your website. Communicate directly with your users and address their questions on a personal level. Use a Gravatar so they get a feel for who the person is on the other end of the screen. Don’t be afraid to use humor or personal anecdotes to make a connection.
Make sure to sell values and culture rather than products or services. Define these values by being active on blogs and social media. Studies show that 75% of people feel a socially present CEO reflects the company’s personality, ultimately showcasing the brand’s innovation.
Remember, people identify with ideals you represent, therefore if they are drawn in by the bigger picture, it is the first step not only to sales, but increased loyalty for years to come.
Identify User’s Needs
Conversations play a significant role in establishing connection and creating bonds between people. Same goes for brands. Therefore, your goal as a brand should be to initiate conversations that drive your users to get excited about everything you represent.
Of course, the main way of initiating discussion is through writing content that brings something new to the table and is pertinent to your user’s everyday needs. So use your knowledge as an insider in the industry to provide genuine insights. Discover topics to write about through asking your users directly or listening to their problems on social media.
Once you discover topics, write content to solve their problems and answer their questions. Make sure infuse your writing with your own personal insights, data, and case studies to enrich it and make it stand on its own. Most importantly, write about topics you’re passionate about. Though it may seem cliché, if you write about what you love, the content produced will be more genuine and legitimate. This way, you are able to truly set yourself apart by offering a unique approach which can’t be found elsewhere.
Be open to discussion
Now for the most important part. In order to inspire conversation, you have to prompt your community to comment and discuss the topics you wrote about. I personally found that by asking questions after a post, inviting guests to add their experiences, or writing something controversial–people were more inclined to comment.
Encourage these comments by replying to each one using the commenter’s name and rewarding users who contribute the most. Additionally, one of my favorite tips is to use emoticons in responses. Though it may seem arbitrary, emoticons increase comments and shares by 33% and likes by as much as 57%. That’s what we call engagement.
Finally, it is extremely important to consider where and through what means these conversations should take place. While comments are great, giving just one way for people to discuss your content means you will only attract a segment of your audience–those brave enough to write comments. So think of other ways people can interact either via onsite chat, discussion board, or other means that may attract a more diverse audience. Remember, making interaction easy and comfortable for everyone will greatly contribute to a robust and thriving community.
Brands with loyal and diverse followings do not simply come into fruition overnight. Like any good relationship, it takes years of shared experiences and mutually beneficial interactions to develop trust, appreciation, and the desire to formulate bonds. But, by getting personal and offering your users something of value, you can begin building a relationship with your audience that is destined to thrive for years to come.