How many times have you logged onto your social media, and found that you’ve had no engagement on your posts? Your follower count hasn’t moved in the last week, and even though you’re create some crazy awesome content – you’re just not getting anywhere? So how exactly do you create an engaged audience?
Here’s a hard truth: Success is not given to you over night. In 99.9% of cases, success isn’t even given to you. It’s something that you have to work hard for. This isn’t something everyone wants to hear, but to understand on how to become successful in anyway, it’s something you’re better off learning sooner rather than later.
To create an engaged audience, and one that keeps returning- requires a bit of dedication. If you’re really serious about what you’re doing – whether it’s blogging, photography, music – you need to be able to put out some positive energy to expect some back.
Why do you need to create an engaged audience?
The better question is why wouldn’t you? There’s a number of reasons behind wanting (or needing!) an engaged audience. Number one is the fact that they’re going to be your returning audience or fans. They’re the people that have your back, post after post, piece after piece. If we look at people like Lady Gaga and her little monsters, or basically any KPOP band out there out the moment, their fans are their audience, they're the hype committee. In the world of art, you've got people like Nathan W. Pyle. who consistently is bringing out adorable new content, and people (myself included) are consistently sharing that work because it's relevant.
Every artistic industry relies on having at least some form of an engaged audience. If you don't - your work isn't going to be seen. (Unless you've got some super amazing publicist somewhere, or, something? But if you do, this post is not for you.)
So what's the secret?
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Firstly: Contribute to conversations
One of the most successful things that I’ve seen on social media is the fact that at nearly any time, you can jump onto a thread and give your input. This can sometimes backfire as I talk about a bit here – but more often than not, you’ll be able to start making meaningful contacts throughout each community. This can be on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: basically anywhere that you can comment, you’ve got an opportunity to make an impression that lasts. (Hopefully in a positive manner.)
If you’re contributing helpful material, (and I mean, more than a 3 word reply to something) with your own knowledge about something, or a random fact, or something useful, you’re going to be seen as someone worth keeping an eye on in the future. This in turn should then see you get an increase on your own post engagement.
HOW TO CREATE AN ENGAGED AUDIENCE
Don’t dismiss those with small follower counts
We’ve all got to start from somewhere. That’s just the truth of things. People who choose to ignore conversations or reach outs from those with a smaller follower count can really do an injustice. I’ve seen people who have started their blogging journey much later than myself, and now have well and truly exceeded my followers, however as I was there to support them in the beginning, they’re there still supporting me, and this blog.
Kindness isn’t hard to give people, and kindness isn’t forgotten easily.
Comment on posts
A few weeks ago, a lovely lady commented on one of my posts. It was a genuine comment: a good 50-75 words long, it was relevant to my blog and asked questions. I was so chuffed about this that I immediately went and followed her blog, Instagram and Twitter, because it made me feel super special!
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this happens to everyone, but I can guarantee you that you’ll garner a lot more interest on both IG + Twitter if you’re leaving more than a “This was a great post!” comment.
Commenting on posts also does a few things – if you’re a blogger, and you’re leaving comments, most of the time Google will pick this up for backlinks to your blog, increasing over time your DA and ranking score. Secondly, if you’re leaving your website, you’ve now created a link for others to follow you if you’re saying something useful. On Instagram, you’re also taking up a big chunk of space on someone's comment thread (especially if they haven’t gotten many comments on a post already.)
Best of all, you’ll make someone feel important and give them warm and fuzzy feelings, which really, is what matters the most.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As we’ve said a little earlier, asking your audience what they think of things, or opinions about new pieces are a great way to create engagement. The best part of the questions is that they don’t have to be serious. You can create fun options; if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, or on your stories on Instagram, you can create such a variety of conversation starters. (IE, Does pineapple belong on pizza? Are dogs better than dogs? What came first; the chicken or the egg?)
You shouldn’t be scared of asking questions for other people as well. Is there someone out there that you really admire that you can ask to do a guest post for you? Are they able to give you some pointers on a particular topic? Can they give you some advice on where they first started, and how they’ve gotten to where they are today?
Everyone will deny it, but people like talking about themselves. If you’re then giving an opportunity for people to be able to do this in an educational way, you’re creating a positive influence for yourself.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN HITTING UP RANDOM PEOPLES DM’S AND TELLING THEM THEY LOOK SEXY. OR ARE THEY SINGLE?
Conversations and questions should be productive for both parties, and shouldn’t leave the receiver feeling awkward or attacked. #Don’tBeADick.
Promote other users work
Are we picking up that a lot of these go hand in hand, yet? If someone is coming onto your page, and only seeing self-promotion, you’re going to get different results. When we look at somewhere like Twitter, just seeing links to your products isn’t really telling us any useful information. This isn’t saying your posts aren’t useful – but you’re not giving your potential audience anything to really grab onto. I know personally I don’t want to see just a heap of self-promotion from an artist via my feed.
I like following people, because if I’m following them, they’ll probably start to introduce me to other people who do similar content. The thing here is what goes around, comes around – and if you’re shouting out others, and showing different content on your feed, others will eventually do the same to you.
When we look at more visual platforms such as Facebook and Instagram – collaborating with vendors, tagging venues, or even promoting other users is creating organic traffic back to you. I posted a photo the other day of a skincare product, and not only did the company engage back on my post – other people who had also used this started commented and sending messages through. For the sake of one tag, that’s been my most successful post this month.
Subscribe to others
The best way to increase your knowledge of topics is to take the time out and read others points of views. What’s the easiest way of doing this? When you find someone’s content you like: support them and subscribe. How does this impact your engagement, you ask? Simple: if you’re following someone’s content that you personally like, you’re going to end up getting inspiration with similar post ideas by following them. If you know someone already has a successful post -you can absolutely be inspired and do your own. THIS DOES NOT MEAN PLAGERISE THE POST. Inspiration not imitation, my dear reader.
This also means you’ve got the opportunity to then share new posts that you’re favourite writer/artist/creative person is doing -and by doing so, you’re creating new content for yourself for your followers to read/see, and they’ll be commenting/sharing your posts, and hopefully, the original person will re-share your recommendation as well.
Do your research on trending topics
On the same note as the last dot point: one of the best ways of finding engaging topics is to be looking at trending topics. What are your viewers reading at the moment? What’s topical? If you’re posting about relevant real-time issues and conversations, you’re going to have more success in sparking up a conversation. Be wary of this though; jumping on the “cancelled” themes, or something that is significantly negative may get you the opposite result that you’re after. Whilst the term “Any publicity is good publicity” may be well known – this is hotly debated.
Post engaging content
Seems like a bit of a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually do this. When I say engaging content, I mean posts that are creating a conversation. Whether that be asking questions, doing a poll, or just a general check-in with your audience. There is nothing wrong at all with posting your own posts, or photos, or whatever it is that you’re promoting – but if your social feed is just saying “Look at my new post!” with nothing else – people aren’t going to stick around.
It’s scary opening up on the internet. We’re always concerned about being judged or coming across trolls, but being a robot on the internet (unless you're a literal robot?) won't win you favours. People like to see realness, whether they admit or not.
Post content relevant to who you are as a person
Following on from the last post – creating posts, no matter what platform, that is genuine to who you are as a person is always going to the best point of action. If you don’t believe in what you’re posting, or you’re continually pretending to be someone that you’re not – you’re going to get burn out. Right from the start, if you’re honest about who you are, what you do, and what you’re standing for in making whatever topic you’re writing/blogging/artistically promoting – you’re going to build up that brand loyalty. You also then don’t face massive backlash if you go off-brand down the track when you change your mind about the direction you want to go in.
Focus on engagement rather than followers
Here’s a scenario for you:
Would you rather 100 followers, with 20 of these regularly commenting and sharing your work, or 1000 followers, with the 10 people doing the same action? Whilst the 1000 followers, in theory, sounds great – if you’re engagement rate is only 1% versus 20% even though the follower count is lower, you’re creating a better conversation with your audience. Don’t get me wrong – having a large follower count is exciting, and I always love seeing my followers go up. I’ll be the first to tell you though, that I would prefer to have a smaller count and a consistent group of engaged people who love my stuff, versus a large account with bots.
Expect that you’ll give more than you’ll get (and be okay with this.)
Unless you’re a Kardashian or a mainstream celebrity with a publicist doing your hard work – you’re going to have to accept that you’ll be giving more than you’ll be receiving when it comes to comments and likes.
To be frank, this shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing. I’m all for people to spread kindness around like confetti, and if you’re contributing to the world in a genuine way, you’ll eventually see the results trickle back. It might be a while, it might be potentially overnight- but as long as you’re continually trying to better yourself, and honestly putting the commitment in, you’ll eventually get there.
And Lastly in how to Create an Engaged Audience
The Secret to Social Media and Engagement is being Social.
It’s such a crazy concept, but if you’re going to be successful on social media, and for people to interact with your work – you need to be social. You’ve got to put yourself out there. Whilst not everyone is going to have time to go online and spend one, two, or four+ hours each day doing this, if you’re not committed to at least doing thirty minutes every day checking out other peoples works, and making yourself visible, you’re not going to succeed.
Even if this means you do some commenting on your daily commute in the mornings, or check out a new blog post whilst you’re on the treadmill at the gym. Heck, even during the ad breaks on TV will quickly add up.
We’re living in a digital age where communication is our best selling point, and if you’re not utilising it – why not?
Wrap up time
Hopefully, you've found these tips helpful! Or, at the very least, given you a spark of inspiration of things that you could be doing to increase that engagement rate. Unfortunately, a lot of people still don't realise that communication and engagement is a two-way street - you're always going to have to put yourself out there to be successful.
Have you got any other suggestions? Or things that you might have found to be more successful than something else you've tried? Let me know in the comments below!