Although social media continues to change, one thing that hasn’t is how important it is for online brands to be present there. If you’re not actively using social media and engaging with your audience on those platforms, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to grow your business. Despite how popular it is, there are still many brands who just aren’t sure how to do social media the right way. In our latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked about engaging your audience on social media and learned some really great tips!
#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Best Strategies for Engaging Your Audience on Social Media with Meera Sapra
Our guest host for this week’s chat was Meera Sapra. Meera is the Product Manager over at Zoho Social and she plays a large role in the brand’s social media presence. She shared a lot of helpful advice on engaging your audience during Tuesday’s chat, so let’s dive into the recap!
Q1: What does engagement on social media look like for your brand? Which metrics do you typically measure?
When it comes to success on social media, brands all have different goals they’re aiming to reach. To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share what kind of engagement their brand looks for online and which metrics are most important to them.
As Meera said, it’s so important to measure what matters. The metrics that are most important to you might not matter so much to other brands. You may even set different goals based on the campaigns you produce. This is why it’s key to set goals for your content and create and measure with them in mind.
Again, metrics can vary based on the goal of your social media post. You might be aiming for likes, shares, link clicks, or something else. It all depends!
As Julia said, clicks and conversions are two things we always measure here at Express Writers. We want to see that social media followers are taking action by heading over to our website and making conversions (whether that be email sign-ups or sales). Buffer has been a helpful tool when it comes to measure the success of our content.
Jenn knows the goals for his brand and he intends to monitor engagement from his audience as well as referral traffic she receives from social media.
Comments and replies are always great to measure on social media because it’s nice to see that your content gets your audience talking. Use it as an opportunity to engage with them in return and start building a relationship.
For Sara, she has a few different metrics she likes to keep an eye on. They include engagement rate, video views, lead generation, and she monitors what people are saying.
Q2: To reach your audience, you have to be present on social media. How do you choose the platforms that are right for you?
With so many social media platforms out there, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. It can even leave you wondering which platforms you should really be investing your time in. Here’s some advice to help you choose the ones that are worthwhile for your brand:
Meera is spot-on with her answer for this question. As she said, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Focus on the social media platforms that matter the most for your brand. That’s going to be different from what other brands are doing, so determine what’s best for you.
As Roslyn said, you need to know the demographics of your target audience. This will guide you in the right direction because you can figure out which platforms they’re using the most.
Varun agrees that you need to be where your target audience is hanging out online. Once you figure that out, you can begin building a community there and be part of their conversation. That’s key to engaging your audience on social media.
Even Sarah agrees! It’s all about being where your audience is spending their time.
This is another great way to look at it. Determine where your audience is online and asking questions and be there yourself. This is your opportunity to answer the questions they have and share your expertise.
Zala recommends also considering what your goals are and which platforms feel the most natural to you. If a platform just doesn’t feel right for you and your brand, that’s okay. Give it a good try and if it doesn’t work, move on to something else.
Elizabeth shared one key piece of advice we all need to keep in mind: don’t overwhelm yourself with tons of platforms to manage. You don’t need to be everywhere online. Instead, focus on the platforms that your audience is using and that will be the most beneficial to you.
Q3: What types of content receive the most engagement on social media? How do you know when something works for your brand?
When you’re focused on engaging your audience on social media, you have to create the content that’s going to resonate with them. Your posts will need to inspire them to take action. So, what content types receive the most engagement and how do you know when something truly works for you? Check out this advice:
Meera knows you really can’t go wrong with visual content on social media. Great graphics and videos can really help you stand out online and are so helpful when it comes to engaging your audience. They’ll really grab their attention!
Always keep in mind that what resonates with your audience will be different from what resonates with other audiences. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas and test them to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s also important to set goals so you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and can measure it accordingly.
Julia knows that infographics perform really well online, as they tend to receive a lot of likes and shares. She also knows that they work really well for us here at Express Writers because they gain a lot of traction and our audience responds well to them. If you haven’t tried creating infographics for your brand, you might want to give it a go!
Cheval knows that live video is very popular right now. It’s a great opportunity for brands to chat with their audience in real time and it’s worth taking advantage of this.
As Tony said, images and videos tend to receive more engagement than a social media post that’s just text and a link. Think about this the next time you’re filling up that Buffer queue! Great copy is also a must if you want to inspire people to take action.
And there’s no denying that GIFs are awesome when engaging your audience on social media. Not only do they stand out in a busy timeline, but they’re fun and help you connect with your audience on another level when they spark a conversation.
Q4: How do you write a headline that encourages clicks on social media?
If you’re using social media as a way to direct traffic back to your website, you need to know some key tips and tricks for writing copy that pushes people to take action by making the click. Check out these tips for writing a captivating headline:
Meera’s advice is to follow the KISSER approach: Keep It Short, Simple, Engaging, and Relevant.
If you want to encourage clicks, you need to write a headline that leaves people wanting more. Make it captivating, but never mislead anyone with clickbait. It’ll turn people off very quickly.
It also helps to think of the problems you’re solving for your audience. Katie said she considers how her audience might be searching when crafting her perfect headline.
Adding some personality always helps you stand out from the crowd and plays a huge role in engaging your audience on social media. Don’t be afraid to be yourself because people get turned off by brands that are too robotic or automated.
It’s okay to think outside the box as well! This will help you craft a headline that stands out from the rest.
It’s okay if you need to brainstorm a few ideas for your headline as well. You want to make sure it’s great! Ask yourself if it’s something you’d click and if it is, you’ve done your job.
For even more tips, check out this guide to writing headlines that Julia put together for our blog!
Q5: How can you inspire your audience to take action and convert via social media?
One thing we’re always seeking more of online is easily conversions. But how exactly do you inspire people to take that next step and convert with your brand? Check out this advice from the chat:
As Meera said, a great call to action is key. Let people know what that next step is by telling them. Don’t just sit back and expect them to figure it out on their own. Sharing stories from current customers is always a great way to encourage sales from those who are on the fence.
Make sure you take the time for actually engaging your audience on social media. Start up a conversation with them. Answer their questions. You can’t just schedule posts and walk away. You have to be present on social media in order to see success, so let them know you’re there and you’re listening.
Jessy agrees that it’s important to work on building the relationship between your brand and your customers. Connect with them via conversations on social media and they’ll begin to trust your brand. Once you’ve built that relationship, they’ll be more likely to convert.
As Julia said, make sure you don’t forget the simple things. Optimize your social media bio with your offer and a link and also balance sharing useful and promotional posts on your platforms.
Q6: Do you use a social media editorial calendar to plan content? If so, how do you plan efficiently for best results?
By now, you’ve probably heard all about the benefits of using an editorial calendar to plan content for your blog. But have you ever thought of using one for social media? If not, you should! Here’s what some of Tuesday’s chat participants had to say about planning social media content:
Meera recommends keeping your social media editorial calendar in sync with your brand’s overall marketing calendar and content goals. This will ensure you’re staying on track!
The Digital Natives cast sees the importance of having an editorial calendar. The key, as mentioned, is to keep it loose. You can plan out your content all you want, but you should also be flexible and adapt your plan as needed.
Tony uses Google Drive and Trello to keep his content strategy organized.
The team at Netvantage relies on Sprout social and uses their built-in calendar.
On the flip side, not everyone feels the need to plan in advance. Lex doesn’t rely on a social media editorial calendar and instead focuses on things the day of.
Q7: Which tools do you rely on to keep up with your audience and engage with them on social media?
With so many tools available today, managing social media is so much easier than it once was. If you’re looking for some tools to help you out, check out these suggestions:
As a team member of Zoho, it’s no surprise that Meera loves using Zoho Social for all of its features.
TweetDeck and Buffer make the perfect combination!
For Maria, her go-to tools include Hootsuite, Buffer, HubSpot, and Twitter’s own analytics.
Varun uses Buffer, Hootsuite, and Crowdfire for social media management.
Cheval relies on Hootsuite, Agora Pulse, and Blue Jeans Net.
Jessy is also a fan of Hootsuite!
You can’t forget about Twitter lists! They’re so helpful in engaging your audience because you can easily keep up with what others are talking about.
The RankWatch team relies on Hootsuite and Buffer for scheduling content, but has a dedicated team that handles social media engagement.
Q8: Which brands do an amazing job at engaging their audience? Tag them!
You can always draw some inspiration from other amazing brands. Take a look at these brands who are doing social media right:
Meera’s favorites include Starbucks, Airbnb, Oreo, and Amazon Kindle.
Julia is a fan of Applebee’s, Corner Bakery, and Wendy’s.
And she’s not the only one! Wendy’s is killing it on Twitter these days. Take a look at their Twitter and you’re sure to learn a thing or two about engaging your audience.
Mike said Applebee’s, Buffer, Hootsuite, and Delta have all been doing a great job.
Content Marketing Institute is another great example, especially since they run a Twitter chat of their own! Chats are a great way to encourage engagement with your brand.
Join us every Tuesday at 10 AM CST for #ContentWritingChat! Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated on topics and guests.
Let’s talk about creating engaging content.
Have you ever torn a page out of a book in sheer, desperate anger?
I definitely haven’t. I don’t think I know anyone who has.
As a writer, if I saw someone tear a page out of a book I published, it would feel like they were tearing a page out of my soul.
What a silver lining it’d be to know my writing could compel someone to interact with my book by ripping apart the page and sharing their anger.
My writing mattered to them. My content was enough for them to act on it.
That, despite the undesirable reaction, would make all the difference.
Having words powerful enough to engage the reader is a goal every content writer works toward.
Crossroads of Memory Lane and Opportunity Drive
Back in the day, before dial-up and “You’ve Got Mail!”, a world existed without the Internet.
Farther beyond, a realm without television or movies existed for the majority of recorded human history.
Books were very valuable. Compiling information onto paper for leisure, education, and communication was the cornerstone for sharing our thoughts across the distant lands we couldn’t travel to ourselves.
Now, we live in a world where people can search galactic amounts of information, share their opinions with millions of people, and express their disapproval at the click of a button.
More importantly, we live in a world where more content is created than is consumed.
This pivotal moment in history is crucial. It’s the fundamental underpinning all strategic content writing. With more and more people creating content, the industry is becoming overstuffed and armies of content writers are springing up everyday. Grabbing a large slice of your own readership may appear to be a fool’s paradise.
Or is it?
When my closet is overstuffed, it’s an opportunity to throw out what I don’t need. It’s an intriguing moment, because it forces me to sit down and actually think about what I want to see in my closet every time I open it. I have to be aware of my daily priorities.
And that’s what counts, isn’t it? We live in a world with billions of readers, but it’s what matters most that we’ll want in our lives everyday.
Sorry, Not Sorry: It’s Not About You Anymore
I was never impressed with TIME magazine’s May 2013 cover. The “ME ME ME Generation” concept is a theory that could be applied to every generation at some point.
Still, there is a level of entitlement to young adults today. We are keenly aware of the options offered to us. We get to choose our celebrities and news sources, a freedom not readily available to those born before the ’80s. We don’t have to settle for a handful of cable networks and newspapers to spoon feed us the information we seek.
Industry Standards Are Steadily Rising Everywhere
Having so many options available, consumers are much more selective. Standards are being raised across all industries, and the dependence on monopolized profits is a tune business owners don’t get to sing very often.
A higher standard doesn’t necessarily mean working harder; being smart about your approach and listening to other experts in the field is a tried and true way of propelling your own career.
In fact, listening to anyone other than yourself is a fantastic idea if you want to improve.
Playful sarcasm aside, this shift in the business world has been a positive one, and what’s becoming more important is our responsibility to quality. It’s our duty to improve our skills every day and learn from others; there are no shortcuts in the world of content.
The Ethos of the Internet Community
This shift is apparent in the world of marketing. No one gets to walk in, dressed as Don Draper, and tell you an advertisement is going to work because they say so. Today, internet marketers are expected to use statistics and structured plans of action to sell you on an idea.
A prevalent theme across successful social media marketers is the rule that you should interact with your followers ten times for every post you make. People want to be acknowledged, and everyone values this connection with other people. These interactions are reciprocal in nature. Engaging with your follower is often met with an engagement in return.
It’s cringeworthy to some, sure, but people often place depthless value in the number of likes a post receives or the number of followers who read their tweets. And aren’t most of us guilty of feeling the same? When you speak out, isn’t it great to be heard?
This isn’t specific to the millennial generation, but it’s particular to the new world of social media networking. Now, more than ever, understanding one another is increasingly advantageous.
Everyone Online is a Content Creator
People may not view themselves as writers or content creators, but they love to write Facebook posts. In 2012 alone, Facebook users were publishing over 293,000 status updates every 60 seconds. That’s a lot of writing.
Human beings love to share. They’ll share what’s important to them. If it makes them laugh, they may share it with you. If it solves a problem they’re researching, they may share that as well. And if it means a lot to them, they’ll definitely share it with the world.
Sharing is caring, so what do people care about most? That lies at the heart of the single, most effective strategy for creating highly engaging content.
Repeat After Me: Create Content That Matters
I’m not asking to abandon what matters to you. I personally have a blog with content that is of the utmost importance to me, but I’ll be the first to tell you it has less traffic than a back road in the rural parts of North Dakota.
However, when you want to build a loyal readership and maximize your traffic, knowing what matters to your demographic should be at the core of your content strategy.
And some of you may ask, “how do I find out?” There’s an easy solution.
If you read ten times as much as you write, I’m positive you’ll start to understand what’s important to your readers.
Find Your Keys to Engaging Content
The door to success has more than one key. Creating engaging content is an art. Many seasoned content curators are always designing new techniques to raise the bar and perfect their strategy.
Unlocking the true potential to creating engaging content requires using your own brand of ingenuity. Writers are creatures of creativity; it’s not a stretch to apply that creativity to the way we think about our writing, too.
Being a content specialist, I’ll never get tired of the exhilarating rush I feel when one of my strategies results in lucrative success. I’d love for every content writer to feel the same. One ingredient that will always be found in a winning strategy is relevance, so knowing what matters to your readers should always come first.
Allow me to share some of my own unique practices for understanding your audience and boosting the relevance of your content.
Five Things That Make You Smile
Before I share my nuggets of content wisdom, I’d like you to take part in an exercise with me.
Find a scrap piece of paper or open up a blank document and create a list of five things that make you smile. Once you’re done, read them over carefully and continue with the article.
Here is my list.
- a slice of cheesecake
- someone else’s smile
- witnessing a random act of kindness
Perfect! You’ve successfully completed the exercise. Let’s find out why you participated.
Strategy #1 A Positive Mindset Leads to Positive Engagements
I can’t stress it enough. Having passion won’t always win people over; combining passion with positivity is an incredible way to engage your readers.
Dr. Bill Conklin at Psychology Today discusses the impact positive actions can have on shaping our brains, such as physical exercise or mindfulness meditation. Instilling a healthy attitude and avoiding unhealthy thought patterns strengthens the part of your brain that activates when you’re happy. Conversely, these activities weaken the part of your brain that is usually more active when you’re sad.
I can attest to this philosophy. It’s been over a year since I read “Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson, and I’ve practiced many of the exercises I found inside. Today, I feel happy by default, as opposed to an attitude I had to work hard to maintain. This lesson in self-improvement has consistently helped me to connect with readers on higher level.
Write a mental list of things that make you happy before you start writing content. It’s an easy way to get yourself in a positive mindset before writing. Imagine each one and embrace the warmth as you prime yourself to serve your readers the same experience.
It’s also a healthy way to evaluate your form; if you’re having trouble feeling happy, it’s probably not the time to be writing meaningful content. Instead, it may be an opportunity to talk to a friend and resolve whatever dilemma is bogging you down.
Strategy #2 Walking 10,000 Steps in Someone’s Shoes
The average American only walks 5,900 steps a day, significantly short of the 10,000 steps recommended by most health communities.
American Writer Nelle Harper Lee, commonly known as the author of the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, once wrote a line based on one of her favorite Cherokee proverbs, helping to launch its popularity and facilitate widespread usage:
Most people have seen a variation of the phrase, “before you criticize a person, walk a mile in their shoes.” The idea behind the message is rooted in empathy, a skill best described in this context as the ability to understand a person’s emotions and problems without experiencing them firsthand.
Developing empathy requires a higher level of emotional intelligence. It’s a type of intelligence that is less dependent on how well someone can study feelings and more dependent on the ability to experience them. Interestingly, the ability to understand one’s own feelings is often demonstrative of the ability to understand the feelings of others.
Empathy is a key component of writing engaging content. If empathy doesn’t come easy to you, it may feel difficult accomplish this goal. That’s exactly why you can’t give up—some of your readers feel that same frustration!
When you work hard to understand the problems your demographic faces, you’ll be able to serve them with insightful and helpful content. This level of thoughtfulness will be met with multiple, positive engagements from the people who read it. In return, you’ll feel exponentially more fulfilled for receiving the well deserved feedback on your hard work.
Empathy is a skill you can hone for the rest of your life. There’s no need to try mastering it overnight. Lots of people who walk 10,000 steps a day have seen improvements in their own health, which has led to a higher quality of life. It’s up to you to improve your own emotional intelligence and mentally walk 10,000 steps in someone else’s shoes, every day.
Strategy #3 Learn to Drive More Traffic With Poetic License
Let’s be clear: I don’t suggest deviating from the facts. Rather, it’s essential to start straying away from the conventions of writing and individualize your voice.
I grew up being taught that paragraphs had 3-5 sentences, a sentence never ended in a preposition, and five-paragraph essays were the best way to share a subject with three discussion points.
Can you imagine if a normal conversation followed that format? The thought sends shivers down my spine.
Online writing is a relatively new landscape and content writers are the leading architects. In similar fashion to the pilgrims who voyaged to America hundreds of years ago, we are allowed to build communities in our own style as we carve reputations across the blogosphere.
Many successful content writers can agree on the foundations of quality writing, but no one will give you a step-by-step guide that doesn’t require a little innovation on your end. Write with words you’ve never used, styles you’ve never adopted, and suggestions you’ve never taken. Experimenting as a writer will lead to personal growth, a positive affirmation that nurtures our creativity and fosters the willingness to share our human experiences.
Your Most Loyal Reader is You
I’m willing to bet no one has read your writing as much as you have. You know your strengths and weaknesses best, so it’s your job to seek out ways to improve your writing.
Every writer is effectively an entrepreneur. As such, we’re responsible for the satisfaction of our service to our customers. We are in the business of influence, and always challenging our writing skills to reach new heights will ensure the growth of our readership. If you learn from your failures and capitalize on your successes, you’ll find it becomes increasingly easier to speak from experience.
Writing about having a problem and finding a solution will feel much more natural when you’ve become familiar with its process (as opposed to leaning on empathy to imagine how it feels). I recommend frequently looking at ways you can innovate your writing and always being eager to read about other people’s experiences. Taking these steps will mold your current perspective and give you constant opportunities to reinvent your content.
No single approach to creating successful and engaging content will ever encompass the complex, individual needs of different industries, but one universal rule rings true. If you want to write engaging content for humans, you need to be an engaging person.
Never stop growing.
Interested in learning more about how to create a content strategy for YOUR brand that engages your readers? Download our free ABC Content Strategy checklist.
Bombarded with tons of low-quality, unremarkable stories that are constantly flooding the Internet, readers have become quite selective to their time and energy when it comes to reading blogs or content online.
Whether you’re ready for it or not, they use your own headline as their first selection criterion.
Just like a book is still being judged by its cover, each content piece that you produce gets evaluated by your readers in a few seconds based on its headline.
7 Headline Formulas That Will Convince Your Readers to Take Action
Simply because their originality and unique, totally recognizable style should be their most valuable trademarks, writers can seldom afford the luxury of relying on existing patterns to make their content piece seem more interesting in the eyes of their readers. However, when your goal is to create magnetic headlines, you can always turn to a few foolproof formulas showing you the direction that you should follow to make more people take a glance at your article. Here are the 7 golden headline formulas that you should have in mind as soon as you decide to put pen to paper.
- “The Secret” to [Something]. You simply cannot go wrong with a magic keyword followed by a promise. People can’t always keep a secret, but they would definitely like to hear one every half an hour. Secrets give them the power to stand out from the crowd and prove their superiority in their circle based on a very simple principle: “knowledge is power.” When that secret actually supports one of their most ambitious goals, things get even better. Let’s consider this example: “The Secret to Losing 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks the Healthy Way.” How could you ignore this headline, when all you want to do is stop eating donuts and achieve a gorgeous beach body without getting on the treadmill?
- “X Ways” to [Achieve Something]. The “X ways to do something” proves once again that readers love specialists and their expert insight. They want to take the easy way out and avoid unnecessary stress or expenses by following the advice of someone who has already dealt with this challenge and knows what he’s talking about. This is why a title such as “5 Ways to Revamp Your Career Rapidly and Stress-Free” will always deliver excellent results.
- “Little Known” Strategies/Ideas/Methods That Will [Support a Goal]. For the same reason why we love secrets, we are also very interested in “little-known” things. Yes, we want to get the latest scoop before anyone else. We also appreciate informative content pieces allowing us to show off our knowledge in front of our friends, from time to time. “I bet you didn’t know that male ostriches roar just like lions!” Following this simple idea, it becomes obvious why headlines such as “Little-known methods to develop a profitable home-based business” can guarantee your success as a writer.
- Here’s the Simplest/Most Rapid/Cheapest Way to [Solve Your Problem]. It’s no secret that most of the individuals who are surfing the Internet to find the best solutions to their daily problems and challenges are looking to save time and money. These two values always end up influencing their decisions. In this context, a concise title reading “Here’s the Easiest Method to Get Hired after Your First Interview” will most convince job seekers to read the entire body copy with greater attention; after all, it holds the key to getting a nice job rapidly and hassle-free. What more could you ask for?
- Grow/Build/Succeed in/Have Something Desirable. Sometimes, we need an extra push to get things done. Headlines such as “Build Your Own Website and Start Selling like a Pro” or “Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden in 5 Easy Steps” act like a powerful stimulus, reminding people of their ambitions; plus they also put the reward right under their nose. In other words, it’s like telling your readers that if they want to strike gold, they’d better start digging.
- “X Mistakes” That Could Bury/Destroy/Compromise [Something That Means a Lot to You]. When something means the world to you, you focus your entire attention on the good and the bad that your object of desire is exposed to. This is precisely why you would also read an article highlighting risk factors, such as your own actions, which could threaten your career, relationship, health and every other aspect that you care about. Let’s face it: a title reading “10 mistakes that could instantly terminate your relationship” is automatically associated with an article that you may want to read entirely, whether you’re single and still looking for your soulmate or happily married for more than a decade.
- A Reinterpretation of the Classic “How to” Headline. Truth be told, “how to” headlines can be quite boring. The good news is that you can amplify their power of seduction by introducing the reward, as explained above, or through associations with individuals or groups of people who have already reached a certain target. For example, headlines like “How to Take Care of Your Skin like a Dermatologist” or “How to train like a Navy SEAL” may stimulate the curiosity of your segment of public and get them to spend some (quality) time on your page.
How to Create the Ideal Headline in 5 Easy Steps
When it comes to writing killer headlines, putting theory into practice doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are the 5 key steps that you should take to come up with the perfect title for your next content piece.
- Identify the Needs, Demands, Problems, and Expectations of Your Audience. Get to know your audience before anything else. In this phase, proper keyword research, a good social media strategy and tools designed to help you come up with interesting blog topics, such as Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator, can simplify your mission.
- Brainstorm with Your Team. Your coworkers may just have what it takes to inspire your next masterpiece. By putting themselves in your readers’ shoes and relying on their empathy, they could offer you valuable suggestions allowing you to come up with an attention-grabbing, compelling title.
- Put Pen to Paper. As you may already know, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. What does the perfect headline actually look/sound like? You can get the most accurate answer to this question only by examining different available options, so put your mind at work, play with various keywords, create associations based on high-impact verbs, adjectives and nouns that could reflect the core of your story and see where they take you.
- Incorporate Powerful Adjectives, Numbers and Buzzwords with a Proven Effectiveness. When it comes to using emotion-rich words that could convey the entire message that you’re trying to send through your headline, don’t overdo it. Stick to one or two categories of words added to reflect just how unique, special, relevant or attention-worthy your story actually is. Here are some extra guidelines that you may appreciate along the way.
- The right adjective can take your headline to a whole new level by changing your readers’ reaction from “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” “Wait a second, I actually want to read the whole piece, it sounds promising.” Attributes like “effective”, “proven”, “remarkable” and “little-known” will always sound like music to your readers’ ears.
- Numbers let your readers know that you’re organized. They also deliver the promise that you will stay on point in the body copy and avoid divagations that can dilute the substance of your content piece.
- Nouns that are proven buzzwords can actually help you maximize the appeal of an ordinary list post and raise the curiosity of your public. As Goinswriter.com indicates, words like “reasons”, “lessons”, “secrets”, “tips”, “facts” and “tricks” are particularly effective because they highlight your mission (after all, you do want to educate, entertain and inform your readers) and anticipate the desires and demands of your audience (yes, your readers are still waiting for you to tell them why they need to buy your new product, and they would also appreciate a few easy tips on how to conduct a successful DIY home improvement project on their own).
- Use Online Tools to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Headline. Worried that you may promote a certain title and fail miserably along the way? If you don’t trust your instincts and would much rather rely on an authorized second opinion before selecting a headline for your new content piece, don’t hesitate to utilize one of the many online tools designed to help you make better decisions and maximize your odds of success. Trust us when we say that aids like the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer offered by Advanced Marketing Institute can make your job a whole lot easier.
Solving the Equation of Perfect Headlines
The perfect headline is a complicated equation comprising multiple elements of equal importance, including research, an wide knowledge database, creative thinking, brainstorming sessions, a deeper understanding of the targeted audience, an ample testing phase and proper optimization. Once you put all these pieces together, you manage to solve the puzzle and come up with the string of words with a magical resonance that will feed the curiosity of your readers and make them click on your links and land on your page time after time.
Photo credit: Zastavkin / iStock
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, chances are you’re familiar with Silicon Valley’s wildly successful, technology-based startup businesses Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb.
And if you have been living under a rock, welcome to a world where engaging content means billions of dollars in annual revenue for marketing savvy businesses—businesses that were a mere twinkle in their founder’s eyes just months before hitting the ever-elusive yet highly coveted billion dollar revenue mark. Yes, these three commercial venture high rollers—Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb—have a lot in common when it comes to content marketing.
So what exactly do these companies have in common when it comes to content marketing? The answer to that question is quite simple—engaging content. These three multi-billion dollar businesses offer undeniable proof that engaging copy is more than just trendy buzzwords spewed forth during techy sales meetings with newbie CEOs who are barely out of diapers. Engaging content is a genuine, bonafide way for a company to gain exposure, build loyalty, and generate interest from millions of potential customers.
Successful companies like Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb realize the power of engaging copywriting, and if you own or manage a business, it’s time you realized its power as well.
Engaging Content: It’s More Than Just Words on a Webpage
By now you’re probably thinking, “Ok, engaging content is a big deal. But what exactly is engaging content?” (Either that or you could be thinking about… “A cinnamon raisin bagel and a vanilla latte would be totally awesome right now.”)
How 3 Companies Are Using Content To Kill It In Revenue
But assuming you’re thinking the former, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between content and engaging content. In other words, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between run-of-the mill, off-target content and stellar content that engages a company’s target audience and facilitates exponential company growth. Immensely profitable companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Buffer only use content that is very engaging in their marketing campaigns, and the results are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
- Uber: Engaging Content Means Videos. The peer-to-peer driving company Uber uses videos as a primary source of content marketing. But we’re not talking about mundane videos of cars cruising around a city block picking up a guy in a suit who happens to need a ride to the airport. No, Uber is much too in-the-know when it comes to engaging video content to churn out something so dry and uninteresting. Instead, Uber focuses its video content on the unique and diversified people who drive for their company or who use their services as a way to get where they need to be. In one of Uber’s blogs titled, “Your Drivers. Our Partners. Their Stories.” you can watch a video that details the lives and experiences of some of Uber’s drivers. Upon watching the video, you immediately feel a sense of relatability and you gain a better understanding of how the company operates. And even though each driver mentions several times throughout the video that working for Uber is the best job they’ve ever had, it doesn’t come across as contrived or preachy. Instead, it’s done in a way that helps establish company trust and helps portray Uber as a company that listens to and cares about its employees.But the best and perhaps most engaging feature in Uber’s video is the people; the everyday citizens just like you, just like me, and just like the people who are most likely to use Uber’s services. Using real drivers instead of actors in their video helps Uber connect with their customers on a more personal level while still demonstrating the value of the service they have to offer. You get to see faces and names of real people associated with the company, and then you realize that it’s these same people who may be giving you and your toy poodle Mr. Bojangles your next ride to the dog park. You feel a sense of neighborliness, a sense of connection, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of being totally comfortable with using Uber’s service. The video’s sincere, relatable realism speaks to Uber customers, potential customers, and potential drivers alike, which is a huge factor in why the company is now worth an estimated $40 billion.
- Airbnb: Surprise! Print Media Isn’t Dead! And For Airbnb, It’s Actually Quite Engaging! Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to engaging content, print media can be just as useful, worthwhile, and successful as a webpage or video. Who knew, right? Actually, Airbnb knew. The hospitality website, which connects travelers with home owners willing to rent a room in their house, recently launched their print media venture Pineapple, a magazine that caters to both Airbnb hosts and travelers. Airbnb chose the name “Pineapple” for their magazine because the fruit was a symbol of hospitality in colonial New England, and hospitality is what Airbnb is all about.But what’s so compelling about Airbnb’s first magazine addition is that it came with a simple yet poignant mission statement that tells the reader the main purpose and focus of the magazine: “to explore our fundamental values: sharing, community and belonging,” and to “inspire and motivate exploration, not just within the cities featured, but within any space a reader finds themselves.”Why is this message so important, and why does it fall under the category of engaging content? Because the primary purpose of Airbnb is to connect people who have a need for something with people who have something to offer. In other words, Airbnb’s basis for operations is human connection and bringing people closer together in the name of travel, adventure, and exploration. People who are most likely to use Airbnb’s services are those who value the importance of everything in Pineapple magazine’s mission statement—exploration, sharing, and a sense of community and belonging.You can follow Pineapple’s engaging mission statement throughout its glossy, picture-loaded pages (again, kudos to Airbnb for its use of engaging visual content) as you read articles like the interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator of the Serpentine Gallery in London, where he discusses “architecture’s role in bringing us closer together.”There they are again; those magic words that are so near and dear to Airbnb users’ heart—”us”, “closer”, “together.” Without people wanting to connect with one another, or be close with one another, or share experiences and learn from one another, Airbnb as we know it would cease to exist. The fundamental human desire for connectedness and a sense of belonging is the driving force behind Airbnb’s success and subsequent multi-billion dollar profit. And don’t think for one second that Airbnb’s content management team doesn’t realize this.In fact, just last year Airbnb launched a new brand awareness campaign in which a symbol called a “Bélo” was unveiled as the company’s new logo. According to Airbnb’s company content masterminds, “the bélo is a universal symbol of belonging.” On the company’s blog site, they describe why they chose to create a new symbol to represent their company by saying, “So to represent that feeling [of belonging], we’ve created a symbol for us as a community. It’s an iconic mark for our windows, our doors, and our shared values. It’s a symbol that, like us, can belong wherever it happens to be.” If a statement like that can’t secure brand loyalty from millions of community-minded, travel conscious users, than I don’t know what can.
- Buffer: Engaging Content: OMG! Social Media is Buffer’s #BFF :). All chat jargon, hashtags, and emoticons aside, every good content marketer knows just how crucial social media is for business exposure and success. And with that said, it’s no surprise that Buffer uses social media as a primary part of its engaging content strategy. After all, social media is the reason Buffer was created in the first place. Buffer helps businesses manage their social media accounts so they can reap the ultimate benefits of strong social media presence and exposure.So let’s think about this for a minute. If the service you provide helps businesses manage their social media accounts, it’s nothing short of a given that your own social media accounts will be brimming with engaging content, relevant posts, and perfectly timed updates, correct? Not surprisingly, this is the case with Buffer. However, Buffer still deserves a lot of credit for realizing something very important; something which is the exact reason why the company exists in the first place—engaging content on social media is a really big deal.
Be Engaging With Your Content, And The Sky Is The Limit
So we now know that using engaging content in your company’s marketing strategy borders on sheer genius. No, I take that back. Engaging copy doesn’t just border on sheer genius; it blasts through the border like an armor-plated combat tank and takes sheer genius as its unsuspecting prisoner.
But the truly great thing about engaging content is that it’s totally accessible to everyone. With compelling content, there’s no reason why your company can’t see the same magnitude of success as Uber, Buffer, or Airbnb. Pick a medium in which to show off your engaging copy—be it videos or podcasts, print media, or social media platforms—and do what the great successors before you have done. Know your company’s mission, know your target audience, and know how to produce amazing content that engages your audience and compels them to explore your company further.
Yes, engaging content truly is the bread-winner in most successful businesses. And yes, your business can use engaging content to reach more customers, build brand loyalty, and maybe, just maybe, hit that ever-elusive yet highly coveted billion dollar revenue mark. Dream big, engaging content users. Dream big.
Photo credit: onwardstate.com
From the outside, content marketing might appear simple. Great writers sneeze and create compelling blog posts, right? It’s not that hard.
The reality is, however, that even the best writers in this industry have to build their skills. It’s like becoming a world-class weightlifter: you don’t just go out and do it. You work at it, for years, and you eventually get good.
One of the largest challenges for writers in the content marketing industry is learning to create engaging content readers want to interact with. It’s easy enough to write meaningless fluff, but compelling material? That’s another story.
Luckily, this is a learned skill and, like all learned skills, it just requires practice.
12 Tips for Crafting Audience-Friendly Content
So, you want to create useful content that converts clicks into customers? You’ll need to start planning for it. Here are the steps to take:
1. Start With Curation
One of the very first steps to writing useful content is learning to curate it. The more you understand what your audience likes and dislikes, the better you’ll be able to create it for them.
What’s more, discovering what is hot and trending in your industry plays a crucial role in helping you understand the needs of your audience, which will make you a better writer down the road.
To get started curating content, invest in a streamlined curation tool like Scoop.it. Scoop.it eliminates the manual labor from the curation process and can save you hours of searching for the right content.
Remember: curating content is all about finding the best content in your industry, but you can’t stop there. Give your writing muscles a flex by adding your unique commentary or perspective on the article before posting it for your readers.
2. Poll Your Readers
The next step in discovering what your audience is looking for is going directly to the source. Writing engaging content starts with answering customer questions. Before you can answer those questions, though, you have to know what they are. This is where polling your readers or searching through question-and-answer sites can be invaluable.
If you’ve never polled anyone before, start with social Q&A websites such as Quora. Quora is a popular social platform chock-full of user-generated questions on nearly every topic under the sun. Once you’ve found some questions you think would resonate with your readers, turn them into blog posts.
If you want to poll your readers, turn to your social profiles. If you’ve been considering writing about a particular topic or idea, ask your readers what they think of it. Is there something they’d prefer to read about? Do they have any questions for you? Figuring these things out in advance is a great way to create truly custom content for your readers.
3. Use Industry Tools For More Topic Ideas
Struggling to come up with catchy blog topics? Hubspot offers a free blog topic generator that is great for idea mining and can help you get out of a creative rut.
All you need to do to use the tool is insert three nouns that relate to your industry, and the blog topic generator spits out a list of ideas. As with anything, a little common sense goes a long way with selecting your topics. Not every option will apply to your industry, but the topic generator does a great job of inspiring useful content ideas and can give you a lot to work with.
4. Read Competitor Content
Believe it or not, your competitors are an excellent source for content ideas. If you’re having trouble coming up with topics that will be useful for your audience, comb through the comments of a competitor blog. When you do this, you’re looking for unanswered questions that your competitor’s customers are asking. Once you’ve found them, take these unanswered questions and run with them on your blog.
Want to take your competitor research a bit further? Browse through a competitor website and take note of what you see. What do they have that you don’t? Do you notice anything missing? This is your opportunity to fill in content gaps on your website and, thus, provide more useful and relevant content for your audience.
5. Pay Attention to the News
Another source for locating in-demand topic ideas is news sources. Depending on your industry, news topics can come from a variety of sources. A great starting point for general news is Google News, where nearly every industry has some form of news to report.
Beyond Google News, look into popular industry online magazines and other relevant publications. Reddit also contains a fair amount of news-like material, but use your best judgment with this source, since not all content is fact-checked and verified before publication.
6. Use Your Headlines as a Hook
When it comes to writing engaging content, it all starts with your headline. Even if your piece is well-written, it might never reach its full potential if the headline isn’t on point. So, how exactly do you write compelling headlines that encourage your customers to read your content?
- Think in numbers. According to Moz, 36% of customers prefer “number” headlines over other types of headlines. Take this blog post for example, with X Tips for Useful, Engaging Content. Use numbers to create helpful advice pieces, or to showcase lists in ‘Top X’ format.
- Solve a problem. Offering a solution to a problem in your headline will get customers clicking to find more information.
- Ask a question. A surefire way to write engaging and useful content is to answer questions. In fact, 11% of readers prefer these headlines to other types.
Remember: 80% of readers will never get past your headline, so it pays to make it as useful as possible. To check your headline’s strength, use a tool like AMI’s headline analyzer, which judges your headline based on its intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual word saturation.
7. Go Long
When it comes to writing engaging blog posts, longer is better. Studies have shown that long posts that have at least 1500 words earn a higher ROI than shorter posts.
Long blog posts also keep your audience on your website for an extended period, thus increasing the chance of conversion. Be aware that writing long blog posts takes more time, and you won’t do yourself or your readers any good by rushing it. Instead, leave yourself ample time to edit, adjust, and fine-tune your post before publishing.
8. Format the Post for Maximum Readability
While most people think the writing of a piece is all that matters, it’s also vitally important to format your posts correctly. Today, people scan blog posts more often than they read them line by line, and it’s essential to anticipate this and format your posts accordingly. If you’re not sure how to format your posts, don’t despair. Here are some fast tips:
- Use Short Paragraphs. Readers skip over large blocks of text. In some cases, an impenetrable wall of text can be so alienating to readers that it drives them away.
- Use Bolded Headers And Subheaders. These break up your content and give readers a “road map” by which to scan it.
- Keep Sections Short. As a general rule, you want a subheader every 300-350 words of copy.
- Use Bulleted Or Numbered Lists. These make information easy to digest and improve the skimmability of your content.
- Break Up Content With Images. Images like screenshots and custom graphics make your content more interesting and useful for readers.
The better you get at formatting your content, the easier it is for readers to engage with it.
9. Do Your Research
No matter what you’re writing about, always do your research. Research makes you look much more credible and gives your audience more information to use. Remember always to cite your sources and to link to original studies and findings.
10. Don’t Skip The Visuals
Visuals are some of the most compelling elements of content. At the bare minimum, your posts need “Featured images,” although it’s more ideal that they have screenshots, stock photos, and custom visuals throughout.
Remember: people remember 65% of what they see and only 10% of what they read.
11. Tackle Something New
Are there topics nobody is talking about in your industry? If so, address them head-on. When you dare to write about what your competitors won’t, you become a thought leader in your industry. These hush-hush topics don’t have to be anything crazy: it can be as simple as discussing the variations of price points in your industry or even calling out gimmicky tactics.
12. Write For Your Audience, First and Foremost
Whenever you write a post, keep your audience in mind. In fact, take it as far as imagining that your reader is standing right there in front of your computer, and you’re talking to them directly.
Compelling Content Made Simple
Writing engaging content can be challenging, but it’s a great challenge to undertake. With these twelve tips, you can start crafting high-quality, compelling content your readers will love, rather than fluff they just slog through. And when you do this, your entire brand gets a boost!
Need expert writers to help you overhaul your content? Contact Express Writers today!