All too often, clients come to me confessing that they feel like they’ve failed when marketing online on their own. I know that for every time I hear that confession, there are many others that are keeping their feeling of failure a secret.
For some of those, that frustration can easily be avoided, simply by sticking to some specific steps in a specific order.
In the past few weeks, we’ve gone over Step 0 – Build Your Plan, Step 1 – Build Your Platform, Step 2 – Build Consistency, and Step 3 – Build Your Audience. Now, let’s wrap everything up with the final step.
Step 4 – Build Engagement
This is more of an art form than any of the other steps. Creating your plan is entirely your responsibility. Whether it happens or not is up to you. Building your platform is mostly on your shoulders as well, as is being consistent.
But when you move into building your audience, you start to involve others. And when you work on building your engagement, you’re really relying on others to partake in ongoing activity.
What is Engagement?
Simply put, engagement is someone interacting with you and your organization online. It may be as simple as clicking on a link in an email newsletter, hitting the Like button on Facebook, or retweeting something you said on Facebook.
It can also be more work on their part, like endorsing one of your company’s products or services on your LinkedIn Company Page. Or maybe it’s writing a review or responding to a post you made on social media or on your website.
The key to getting engagement is to actually be interesting and enticing. The content you’re sharing has to be interesting from the ground up. It doesn’t matter whether you came up with it or you’re sharing what someone else made, the very concept has to be something that is highly interesting to your target audience.
Of course, they may not even see the content if you don’t share it initially in a way that entices them. It needs to have a good headline, excerpt, and illustration when you share it. Those are all things that if you pay attention to them, you can increase the likelihood people will engage with them.
And really, that only comes with investing time, money, or both, and being willing to fail multiple times before (and even after) succeeding.
Some Quick Tips
Here are some tricks you can try that can, sometimes, help jump start that engagement.
Ask questions. The more specific, the better. While you are likely to exclude people with super-specific questions, you’re also more likely to get answers from the people that know.
Ask for help. If you’ve been consistent and shown personality, your audience is most likely willing to help you with some sort of quick, easy feedback. The easier you can make the task for them, the more likely you’ll get interaction around it.
Give a participation prize. In certain cases, it’s okay to promote engagement through bribery. Just don’t try to hide what you’re doing. Be completely transparent when fishing for comments, replies, or other types of engagement.
Promote a cause. Pick an audience member who is doing something awesome, and help spread the word. They will love you for it! And if you see that they’re already active on the platform you’re using, they’re likely to engage and even get others to engage with you.
Simply ask people to participate. People are far more likely to like, share, comment, or retweet something if you specifically ask them to do so. Some of my most commented blog entries have been ones that I specifically emailed to people I respected, and asked them if they would mind sharing some feedback in the form of a comment.
Working on building the engagement is the final addition you should make to your online marketing. If you try this one too early, it’s easy to get frustrated or embarrassed because nobody participated. But if you haven’t already been consistent, and built up an audience, there won’t be enough people there to engage with you in the first place!