When it comes to marketing in the digital age, long gone are the days of easy marketing tactics like plastering a poster to the window or simply tweeting about your next event. Customers want a stake in the game and a sense of ownership over their service. You won’t get anywhere by only selling your product or service to your audience, and stopping there. By actively engaging with your audiences, you gain a certain loyalty from those customers who then go on to talk about your brand with their peers. An engaged reader is the closest possible thing to a customer you can find online.
If done right, your content can encourage two-way communication between your brand and your prospects, much like a tin-can phone. Here are a few ways you can make that happen.
#1: Ask Questions
It’s an old trope for blogs to end with an invitation to comment below. Skip that noise. Internet users read blogs to gain information, not contribute their take, so focus instead on the areas that already generate conversation, like social media. Asking questions on social media will generate more responses than a blog could because these sites are focused entirely around giving input and sharing thoughts. Social media comments are a great foundation to increase brand engagement and can also serve as a source for future content topics for marketing efforts. Your writers can seek out new and unique content directly from your audience by asking questions and conducting online polls.
Facebook and Twitter both have the option to poll your audience, and most recently Instagram released their polling tool last October. All of these tools allow you and your audience to see real-time results, but each platform sets a different tone. If you want to talk about a relevant event that’s happening at the moment, opt for Twitter since that audience will likely be refreshing their feeds for live updates. Consider using Instagram for photo-op moments since the poll is a sticker option on Instastories. Facebook is a great catch-all for general questions as most scroll through this feed during leisure times. No matter the platform, getting real opinions from your real customer base allows you to build content instantly based off your existing customers’ interests.
#2: User-Generated Content
Do you have happy customers willing to write testimonials? Partners who can contribute to a guest article? Other industry leaders who might contribute to your blog? Seize every opportunity to bring new voices to your content. Each new voice is another person engaging with your brand, and they will bring new audiences with them.
You can think of these as referrals and reviews of your business that consumers want to know about. 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more. People want to know that real customers are happy with the results and give their honest recommendation of it. If a potential customer reads how someone’s problem was solved by your company, and they happen to be in a similar situation–that secure feeling cannot be beat.
#3: Points for Audience Participation
Getting your audience invested in your campaigns is a must for two-way communication. But it doesn’t stop there. Simply asking for feedback or input on new ideas is a good start but it should lead to something the audience can walk away with. This gives your customer a reason to stay engaged in the long run. The more you can tie together your key marketing goals, engagement, and incentives, the better outcome you will see. For example, the camera brand Canon created a campaign last year called “365 Days of Summer” and asked social media users to share videos and pictures of their summer for a chance to win a year-long trip around the world. This campaign not only shared raved-over commercials (one with Zoe Kravitz), but it prompted others to share their best moments with Canon’s customer-base.
Everyone loves an old-fashioned give-away but what’s even better is that giving away something can still turn into a sale–or sales. Giving away a free item has been associated with a 20% increase in word-of-mouth marketing. In 2010, 7-Eleven’s Slurpee sales increased by 38% even though they had given out 4 million Slurpees for free. Introducing free items has a unique way of creating a lasting positive impact with your customers that not only get them talking, but get them spending as well.
Brand engagement can be your method of reaching customers in ways they respond to best. Would you rather have a radio where your messages would be broadcasted to your listeners, or set up a tin-can phone network where you can share your messages while receiving feedback and ideas from your customers? Knowing how to implement the latter of the two in your content campaigns will go far for your company.