Connecting with your audience is critical if you want to establish a strong brand. It’s simple: if they aren’t paying attention to your blog, articles, and social media presence, your brand can’t possibly resonate with them. Many business owners realize this, and go to great lengths to be sure that they are producing compelling content which keeps their audience engaged. However, far too many people overlook the best way to guarantee that they are giving their audience engaging content—which is to simply ask them! Of course, you aren’t literally going to shoot of an email to every blog subscriber or Twitter follower… but there are simple methods available to gauge the interests of your audience. Below are ten great ways to be sure that you are producing engaging content for your online audience:
1) Pay attention to your retweets. Everyone on Twitter loves to be retweeted. But that retweet is more than just an opportunity for additional exposure—it’s a sign that whoever retweeted your tweet found it interesting or informative. If you pay attention, you will start to see a trend emerge, and you’ll be able to identify which types of tweets are most often retweeted. And that tells you something valuable: it tells you which content your audience is most interested in. So figure it out and keep it coming!
2) Monitor your “favorites.” Twitter allows users to mark tweets as “favorites,” which allows the user to essentially bookmark a tweet to be found later. Services such as Fav Star (http://favstar.fm/) allow you to track your tweets that have been marked as favorites. Just as tracking retweets allows you to determine which content your audience finds interesting, monitoring your favorites allows you to identify the tweets that stick out to your followers!
3) Keep an eye on your URL click-throughs. This tip applies to any social media site. Using a service such as bit.ly (www.bit.ly) allows you to determine how many clicks a given link that you post receives. This is an even more powerful tool than tracking favorites or retweets—because it allows you to gauge the actions you are prompting with each post. Obviously, the more click-throughs a certain type of link receives, the more interested your audience is in that type of content.
4) Watch your Facebook Insights. If you have a facebook page for your business (which you should!), you have access to valuable statistics regarding activity on your page. Pay attention to the posts that generate the post feedback, in the form of comments and ‘likes.’ Again, those are the types of posts that your audience appreciates—so keep them coming!
5) Poll your Facebook audience. Facebook offers a “question” functionality for their users. Simply click on “Questions” while viewing your wall and ask away! Something like “What would you guys like to hear about next: YouTube tips or a Facebook strategy?” would work well. Not only does this technique give you an idea of what your audience is interested in, but it is also a great opportunity to interact with them and send the message that their feedback is valued.
6) Track your email marketing or e-newsletter statistics. Most services offer stats for each message that you send out—make sure to pay close attention to which messages are most widely read. Look for trends, and continue to provide the content that seems to be most popular! You can also experiment with various subject lines to see which elicit the greatest response.
7) Monitor click-throughs on your email marketing messages and e-newsletters. The more clicks a certain URL receives, the more valuable the information was to your audience. Once you have figured out the type of material that most interests them, you can create campaigns that truly keep your audience engaged!
Keep an eye on your blog comments. For a blogger, seeing a post lead to a flurry of comments is incredibly rewarding. In fact, the interactivity offered by blogs is one of the reasons for their exponential growth over the past decade. But comments are more than just a reward for a great post—they provide crucial information about your audience. Which types of blog posts inspire the most discussion? What information does your audience most appreciate? The number of comments you receive on a given post is often a great barometer of audience interest.
9) Directly solicit feedback from readers. This strategy is applicable to your social media platforms as well as any other content you produce. Simply asking your readers to let you know whether or not they found your content helpful is a great way to gauge interest. You can do this by creating a survey to post on your blog, or you can simply send out a tweet asking for feedback. Every interaction you have with your audience is a great chance to continue building your brand, and sending the message that you care about your audience is always a great thing to do!
10) Analyze your blog statistics. Most blogging platforms allow you to view statistics about your blog—which posts are the most read, how people are referred to your blog, etc. Over time, you will notice that certain posts are more widely read and shared than others. This is a great indicator of the type of content your audience appreciates, so do your best to produce more along those lines.
If a tree falls down in a forest, but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a business owner writes a blog entry, but nobody reads it, does it really provide any value? I’m no philosopher, but I can promise you that your online presence will be much more effective if you can keep your audience engaged. The way to keep them engaged is to provide content they are truly interested in. And the way to determine which type of content they are interested in is to keep an eye on the metrics I have covered above! As always, if you have any questions, or if you would like further information, you know where to find me!