Since the pandemic derailed many of our social norms in 2020, we’ve had to adapt the social aspect of our lives. We replaced in-person connections and meetings with virtual gatherings, whether it’s for personal or professional reasons. Although it has its perks, such as easily connecting with loved ones overseas or scheduling a conference call beyond time zones, it also poses new challenges.
Now, we have to rethink our styles and methods to engage people virtually, regardless if it’s for a zoom meeting or creating content for social media. As customers, we have developed higher and newer expectations of our experiences with brands and businesses. We’d avoid businesses that pitch their products or services to us. Instead we want businesses to engage with us in conversation and relationships.
No matter what industry your business is in, engaging your target audience is essential for your business’ success. According to research, customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue and relationship growth. Whether it’s prospecting for new leads or communicating with clients, audience participation keeps your brand fresh in customers’ minds. So, what does it really take to be engaging to your online audience?
Audience engagement is turning your audience from spectators to becoming active participants in the activities of your business. In social media, it’s used to measure how people are interacting with you, your content and brand.
Audience engagement matters because it will help your business to generate brand awareness, better marketing reach and an improved ROI. In fact, some studies have shown that 61% of consumers are far more likely to do business with a brand that has original, engaging and informative content. Boosting engagement amongst your audience will help you build credibility and brand reputation too.
How do you best interact and engage with them to create a desired outcome both for you and your audience? Here are some key points to consider when it comes to driving engagement for your online audience.
First things first, you have to understand your target audience. That’s the most important factor of all! Do you really know who your audience is? What are their interests? What are their challenges and pain points? Where do they look for information online? Who do they trust? All these encapsulates who your audience is (and more). Once you have identified these and developed a better understanding of them, you’re more likely to connect with them more effectively too.
According to a Google Marketing Leaders Study, 33% of marketers agree that improved understanding and engaging the right customers is most important to reaching their marketing goals in the next three years.
Whatever you share with your target audience, it needs to be valuable for them. Doing so gives them a worthwhile reason to like your brand and subsequently share it with their social circles. And we all know the power of word-of-mouth. In fact, studies have shown that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.
My advice is to create content with audience engagement in mind. If you create content that could help, intrigue, wow or relate to your target audience, they’re more likely to go the extra mile if they can connect with you.
Here are some examples of brands doing it well!
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Coca-Cola (@cocacola)
A post shared by Coca-Cola (@cocacola)
This was Coca-Cola’s hashtag campaign with partners around the globe on what #KindnessStartsWith. Although their visual content is simple, it all lies in the intent behind starting conversations and engaging with their followers globally. Does it evoke an emotion in you? Does it make you intrigued or curious? I bet it gets you thinking, right?
View this post on Instagram A post shared by we’re not really strangers (@werenotreallystrangers)
A post shared by we’re not really strangers (@werenotreallystrangers)
We’re not really strangers–WNRS for short, built their brand and platform on community through their initial release of a card game that empowers conversations and meaningful connections with people. What we liked about their content was how it was so relatable that it naturally pulled people in. Their approach began with the community in mind, to bring more meaningful connections to everyday life.
Apart from being very social in nature, humans are also highly visual. It’s proven that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text! Plus, another statistic shows that posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. That’s a stark difference compared to engagement with written content. That just goes to show that visual content gains traction more effectively than non-visual content.
One of the reasons why we appreciate visual inputs is because they often generate emotions in us. Our brains process emotions, it makes us feel, react and ultimately, survive. When we see visual content, they generate emotions in us which leads us to form a deeper connection with the content and people behind it.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by REI (@rei)
A post shared by REI (@rei)
What we liked about their content:
View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)
A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo)
National Geographic is another great example of making attractive visual content. Their brand is about wanting people to experience the world through their photographers and what better way to tell stories than through their photographers’ lenses!
What we liked about their content: each post was captured and written by a photographer who told the story through their real encounters with nature.
Part of creating content that is shareable and valuable to your audience is by creating visual content that effectively visualises data. Since visual content catches your audience’s attention and makes it more likely they’ll make a purchase or share the information with others. After all, we love to consume and share images, videos, memes, you name it!
When you’re at a party, you’re not going to want to talk to someone who only talks about themself, right? That can be applied to building audience engagement too. Although posting curated content is important to driving engagement up on social media, it doesn’t always paint a good picture of your brand if your company is all that you talk about. There’s actually so much opportunity to broaden your brand awareness through tapping into different topics within your industry or even beyond your company. Doing so can help to touch on other interests of your audience and begin to establish yourself as a thought leader.
That brings me to this principle called the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. It’s commonly known for its rule that roughly 80% of the effects of action comes from 20% of the causes.
Some of the examples that you might be familiar with looks like this:
Similarly in content marketing, the principle can be applied like this: 80% of your social media posts should inform, educate and entertain your audience, while only 20% should directly promote your business. By providing the type of content that your audience turns to social media for, it will give them a reason to follow your brand. In addition, when you provide them with helpful content, you’re able to give them something rather than just ask them to buy things.
Remember that beyond your followers’ loyalty to your company, they have other interests and concerns outside of what’s happening in your organization. By sharing these interests with them, it will not only build more loyalty but also strengthen your relationship with them.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by CULT CREATIVE (@cultcreativekl)
A post shared by CULT CREATIVE (@cultcreativekl)
Check out the way Cult Creative–a local networking platform for creatives, repurposed their content from a digital experience they organised. Although they hosted the event, their content’s focus was on engaging with the audience via a topic many people experience nowadays–Imposter syndrome. By sharing a worthwhile highlight from a past event, they also come across as a brand that is real and personable too.
Nowadays, our society is really quick to sniff out the inauthentic people, brands and companies. According to Oberlo, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Knowing this, many brands and businesses still neglect to reconsider how they communicate their brand to their target audience. Or perhaps, marketers are in this percentile of believing that most of all the content their brand creates as authentic with consumers. When in reality, only 51% of consumers believe that less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
Moreover, while better products and improved customer service are important attributes for a successful organization, authenticity separates the “good” from the “amazing”. It should be at the heart of any work we center on when it comes to dealing with prospect clients and our target audience. There’s also something almost refreshing when you come across a company or brand that is authentic in who they are, what they do and how they do things.
Authenticity is an attractive trait, so try to incorporate that into your business approach and it will spur loyalty and engagement in others too. So, dare to be real, honest and authentic.
There’s this apt quote by Benjamin Franklin that goes like this, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
If you swap out “involve” for “engage”, you can see why audience engagement really matters.
In essence, being engaging comes from a place of understanding who your target audience is. From there, try to share content that brings value to your target audience and make it visually appealing. Lastly, don’t just talk about yourself and be real and authentic in your content!
Just to recap, here’s what it takes to be engaging online:
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