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Failure of audience engagement hurts, and it can happen to anyone on a personal or professional website.
Have you ever created what you imagined was the perfect Tweet, Facebook status, or blog post only to find that nobody really noticed? You have probably also posted an off-the-cuff, throwaway idea and somehow attracted a lot of interest. Online audiences can be unpredictable. When audience engagement fails, you have to dust yourself off and get back to work. But first, take the time to learn from your mistakes.
Answer These Questions Honestly First
Before attempting to re-establish audience engagement, think about the following questions. Answer them honestly, and you can gain real insight on what went wrong and how you can get your audience development plan back on track.
- What is My Main Objective in Creating This Content? Remember your reasons for starting your blog, website, or social media account in the first place. Also remember that you may have slightly different objectives for each social media component. Were you trying to generate business leads? Build your brand's online reputation? Generate good will from people who may be interested in your products or services? Think honestly about whether your online points of engagement are providing the content and interaction necessary for you to meet those objectives.
- How Can I Measure Progress Toward These Objectives? You shouldn't just create content and forget about it. Your business needs follow-up procedures to measure the impact of your content. Regularly examine visitor numbers, time spent on pages, bounce rates, number of likes, social media shares, and number of re-Tweets. This can be painful, particularly if a piece of content you had high hopes for didn't get much attention. However, you have to remember that your job is to create content that gives your audience what it wants, rather than content that suits your tastes.
- What Are My Most Popular Blog Posts and Social Media Posts So Far? If a particular blog post or social media post attracts a lot of attention take a long hard look at it. What day of the week was it posted on? What time of day was it posted? What was the topic? How long was it? Did it include photos, charts, or other graphics? What were the comments about? Also check out other popular blog and social media posts. You may find you get the most traffic on posts published on Tuesdays between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. You may find that posts containing certain keywords are consistently strong. Check out unsuccessful posts too, and try to find differences between those and the successful ones.
Building Trust with Your Blog Audience
Getting people to read your blog is easier than getting them to comment. There's nothing wrong with asking people for their thoughts directly. You'll build trust and make people more comfortable with commenting if you engage with your commenters. When you do this, try to make it personal. Rather than replying generically ("Thanks for commenting.") try something like, "I really appreciate your comment, George. You brought up an interesting point about seasonal sales..." And finally, moderate comments. Many blogging platforms do a decent job of filtering out spam comments, but they can still slip through and should be removed.
Injecting Life Into Your Social Media Presence
If you don't interact with your fans or followers, you're basically spamming your social media audience. If you don't have time to engage with your social media followers, consider hiring someone to do this for you. Social media is not about finding 20 ways to cram your marketing campaign into 140 characters. It's far is more interactive than that. You might consider holding a social media contest ("Post a photo of something you made using our woodworking tools for the chance to win a $100 gift card.") to get your social media campaign humming again.
Examine Your Website's User Friendliness
This may seem like a trifling matter, but if your website is hard to navigate, or if visitors must go through an onerous process to be able to post comments, many people simply won't bother. Consider having a non-tech savvy friend play with your website. Can they find what they want easily? Do they get lost in a labyrinthine navigation scheme? If they want to find out your business hours, can they do so without having to email you? A user-friendly site sets the stage for better audience engagement.
Audience engagement is the key to building up your business network and lays the foundation for audience monetization. When audience engagement wanes, don't wait to see if it spontaneously improves again. Look critically and objectively at what works and what doesn't. Determine if your drop in audience engagement corresponds to events, like the person in charge of social media going on vacation, or general neglect. Audiences want to feel that they matter. If you're careless with audience engagement, the hard work you've previously put into it could be for nothing. Do you have any tales of audience engagement problems or solutions you'd like to share? Feel free to tell us in the comments.