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Top 100 Content Marketing Question: How do you continue to engage your audience?

Once you identify an audience’s needs and start to publish relevant content, how do you engage your audience in content marketing?

Here are 4 ideas to help you continuously engage your audience:

1. Evoke an emotional response.
2. Keep content newsy and fresh.
3. Encourage user-generated content.
4. Make content interactive.

1. Evoke an emotional response.

By definition, messages and content that evoke emotional responses engage your audience. That’s one reason that picture- and video-oriented social media are on the rise.

To engage people, create content that evokes emotional responses.

People’s emotional responses drive sharing on social media. To win hearts and minds, provoke a response by expressing a strong opinion, especially on social media.

Content that makes people feel strong negative emotions, such as anxiety and anger, gets shared more than most content. Or, focus on positive emotions such as awe and surprise to increase sharing.

The most effective ways to Tweet include tapping strong emotions
When you stoke anxiety, anger and awe, your Tweet is likelier to be shared.

However, if your content makes people sad, it gets shared less. These findings come from a study by Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Visual is the new headline!

Many photos, illustrations, and videos evoke an instant emotional response.

The right text brings out emotions too. For example, in B2B, flatter your buyers by showing them how much they know about the topic already.

Make people laugh.

Tim Washer is a marketer and comic who uses humor intelligently to build trust with audiences.

Laughter works. Why? Because it lowers people’s defenses.

That’s how it opens people up to new possibilities. Here’s Tim’s take on why marketers need to consider comedy.

2. Make content interactive.

To draw in your audience, don’t make all your content a one-way street. Go back and forth by interacting with your audience.

Give audiences the opportunity to participate in content curation and creation:

  • Make it easy to share your website, social media, and email content with others. Use tools that enable one-button sharing.
  • Draw people in with contests and prizes for participants.
  • Offer quizzes and surveys that are quick and compelling.
  • Offer evaluations and benchmarking to help people see how they stack up against their peers.
  • Provide assessments that help customers gain insights into their own behavior.

One of my favorite assessments comes from Sally Hogshead. Her personality test shows how other people see you. It’s useful and fascinating.

3. Enable and encourage user-generated content.

These examples of user-generated content inspire me.

GoPro Cameras runs a contest for the best user-generated videos, with the hashtag #GoPro. For example, here’s a video by Vincent Tupin that shows you what happens when ski season overlaps with mountain biking season.

AirBnB’s Instagram feed shows lots of fascinating places to stay.

Wayfair’s Instagram feed #wayfairathome shares enviable ideas for your home décor.

Perhaps my favorite user-generated content of all time: is the #NZdronie. Tourism New Zealand got 34 million people involved in this user-generated content. Here’s the video:

4. Keep content newsy and fresh.

Use today’s news to keep your content fresh. How?

Monitor news about your audience, your industry, your products, and your competitors. Comment on it in a timely way — within minutes of the news breaking.

Your PR team probably uses a news monitoring service. Tap into it to monitor today’s stories and up-to-the-minute news. Or use to get alerts to you about the topics of your choice.

Use newsjacking.

Confer enough authority to your content editor to share and react to today’s news quickly. This practice is known as newsjacking, named after the David Meerman Scott book.

Newsjacking by David Meerman Scott
Newsjacking is one way to make your content newsier.

Newsjacking is one way to make your content newsier.

The half-life of news is only a couple of hours. If you don’t get into the conversation quickly, no one may ever notice what your company had to say.

To newsjack effectively, it’s crucial to map out your company’s message in advance. Doing so means that you can stay on safe ground as you get into newsy content.

To define what you can say and can’t say, use your company’s Message Map to stay on the message. Get your legal department to buy into the Message Map in advance, so news curators or editors can make timely decisions before new news turns into old news.

Generate your own news.

Bolster the news stories your company already generates by adding content that buyers will crave. Here are three questions to help you generate thought-provoking content.

First, address these questions from Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media:

  • What is the one question that no one in my industry will answer?
  • What is the one accepted idea in my industry that lacks evidence?

Add a third question:

  • What is the one industry trend that no one sees coming, which would keep your customers up at night?

Survey customers on day one of the trade shows, so you can release results as a news release on day two.

Generate news by doing surveys at industry trade shows and events. People love to see how their own opinions compare with others in their industry.

Turn around the results from a first-day survey overnight and publish results on the morning of the second day. By day two of many trade shows, journalists are hungry for a new news angle to report on.

When you generate a news release, advance your content marketing by including a bulleted list of related content assets in the second paragraph of the release. That’s the best place to put links to content assets such as videos, infographics, podcasts, executive summaries, photos, and so forth.

Remember: your news release will probably reach a bigger audience of customers and employees than journalists. Many journalists don’t have enough time to monitor companies’ news release streams.

Borrow interest from in-vogue topics or brands.

Tie in your content marketing with the latest movie release, sports events, or something else that’s a topic of conversation right now. This is one of 10 ideas from a BuzzSumo study of what makes the most compelling B2B content:

1. Technology development

2. Future trends

3. Opinion or viewpoint

4. Inspirational stories/case studies

5. Practical tips and how-to

6. Personal career advice

7. Research and reference

8. Leadership

9. Industry news

10. In-vogue topics or brands.

BuzzSumo created a very useful list of ideas for blogs. In case you ever get stuck trying to find a great idea for a blog, this list gives you a fantastic place to start.

How can you inspire, incent and encourage your users to generate content for your brand?

To keep people coming back for more and more content:

  • Evoke an emotional response.
  • Keep content newsy and fresh.
  • Make content interactive.
  • Encourage user-generated content.
Top 100 content marketing questions
“How do you continue to engage your audience?” is one of marketers’ top 100 questions about content marketing.