So many companies, even well known ones, are outwardly struggling with audience engagement right now. And no wonder. There are new internal priorities to contend with. Seemingly endless factors competing for audience attention. Like it or not, the rules have changed. So what is the secret to cultivating not just followers, and visitors, but a thriving fan base of enthusiasts?
It’s not enough to check a box anymore, and produce content for content’s sake. The audience sees this coming. They know that they are being served up placeholders, or warmed-over rehashes of the same old talking points. It gets old after the third post.
It doesn’t work to be dry, factual and informative, either. This gets lost in a sea of gray. Ex: yet another product demo video absent of context or storytelling? Yawn city.
The audience needs to care first before they get enamored by features enough to influence purchase behavior. So tell them about the product benefits once they know, trust, and feel like they belong to a community. Not as the jumping off point. After all, people don’t fall in love with their car’s owner’s manual. They get attached to the brand itself and the emotional benefits. This is what needs to come alive online.
But We Have a Big Following!
Even if the numbers are there (ex: Cristiano Ronaldo-sized Instagram following), this doesn’t necessarily translate to an engaged audience. Maybe they are sticking around, waiting for something to happen. Maybe they clicked on something they half-liked years ago, which was the last time they were actually impressed with what they saw. The longer it goes without a real strategy or care for the audience, the more apathetic they will become. Then, when you actually have something big to say? It will hit the web with a resounding ‘meh.’
The presumption here is that you want your company to be treated like an iconic brand. And to jump the line for undivided audience attention. If so, there needs to be a consistently high benchmark for everything put in front of your audience, ie:
- Is there a definable brand voice and personality?
- Are there opportunities for two-way engagement?
- Is there an overarching creative direction?
- Is there a well crafted execution?
If it’s just pretty pictures, it’s a wasted opportunity. The solution – be active, attentive, and purposeful with your audience interaction. Let’s look at three ways to accomplish this:
Deep Social Media Audience Insights
By now, it’s common knowledge that having an active social media presence is crucial. For starters, it increases your company visibility. Even better, it integrates your brand into the lives of those you want to reach. But beyond likes and comments, how do you know who is actively enjoying the content? How do you inform the messaging strategy? And further, ensure that all relevant audience segments are being covered? The answer lies in metrics-driven audience insights.
To achieve this level of audience awareness, social analytics experts like ours create compelling data stories. These are generated through years of practice and increasingly sophisticated software platforms. By looking at the results across different channels, it opens up new levels of understanding. It enables us all to see who is just consuming the content vs those with genuine purchase intent. This way, the strategy across all channels (ex: organic, paid) can be adjusted to match the audience’s engagement level.
After a short time, we can start developing trends and courting new audiences. We can even get into predictive revenue, leading to a way smarter and better informed social strategy. Goodbye, content for content’s sake.
A To-The-Moment Relevant Website
Another way to cultivate a more loyal following online is to update your website frequently. Regularly updating your website helps your customers know that things are moving and not stagnant. Does the website looks the same as it did three weeks ago? If so, there is no incentive to visit again.
To counter this, consider implementing an overarching web engagement strategy. This could consist of a branded campaign with content that is unique to your website only. As the campaign rolls out, from teaser to interactive features, your audience will be hooked. They will know they are a part of something exciting that is specifically for them. Then, bring new variations on the theme to life throughout the course of the campaign. This will give your audience a reason to come back over and over.
Again, letting your website grow stale will detract customers. So make sure to update it frequently and keep the highly visible features current. This will build trust and loyalty. And as a side benefit, actively curated websites perform better in online searches over time than stagnant ones.
To the casual observer, your existing website may seem like it represents the brand well. However, chances are it can go even further. What experience does a first time visitor have? How are they moved to react or act? As the primary entry point to your company, the website should have emotional appeal and integrated into the browsing experience. Make the brand story come to life and keep it current!
SEO – The Time-Tested Audience Driver
If the company website stands up, then SEO helps to ensure that the right audience finds it. Is your company looking to grow audience engagement? If so, don’t underestimate the power of SEO or see it as a cost only. Instead, integrate SEO into any long-range promotional activities, with a monthly program in place. Between onsite, technical, and offsite, SEO marketing tactics are designed to improve visibility on the web and in search engines. For example, content should be semantically written. Also, it should have a content strategy behind it. If not, it will likely be outranked by competitors. Putting SEO to work for you, as one of many coverage areas, will increase the popularity of your website by making it easily accessible to your valued audience.
Of course, we’re only scratching the surface here. If you have an iconic brand that deserves more love than it’s getting with current audience engagement, drop us a line.