Audience Engagement: The Why, When, Where and How
Silence is deadly.
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it still holds important meaning in your marketing. Avoiding interaction with your audience has the potential to hurt your business.
Online marketing isn’t designed for broadcasting. It’s meant for two-way communication.
Your audience doesn’t want to feel ignored when they reach out to you. Customer service is HUGE on social media and email. Your audience reaches out to you because they expect your response.
Along with social media, your audience may reach out by email or comment on your blog articles. Those are important times to interact as well. People who email you or comment on your blog aren’t doing it to broadcast. They want to hear back from you about their ideas or with answers to their questions.
This article will walk you through every aspect of audience engagement. It will give you everything you need to convince yourself and your organization’s leadership to invest in the time and resources to be more interactive and responsive with your audience on social, in email, and on your blog.
You may be wondering why you should take the time to interact with your audience. What’s the return on investment (ROI)?
Interacting with your audience can lead to 3 huge effects on your company brand:
- It can build brand loyalty
- It can improve your brand image (or repair it)
- It can grow your brand’s popularity and reach
If you’re wondering whether these effects are worth the investment, just look at some of the businesses implementing this kind of strategy.
Many marketing companies, such as Buffer, are all about interaction everywhere: social media, email and blog comments. Their business is thriving partly because they’re actively responding to their audience whether it be complaints, questions, praise or otherwise.
When you’ve decided to invest in audience engagement, you need to know when to do so for optimal impact.
Your audience may contact you with either positive or negative remarks. On social media, you may get complaints along with the praise.
You don’t want to ignore the negative comments, reviews, etc. The negative and positive should be approached equally. However, be careful not to feed those nasty social media trolls.
As for the different platforms and their timing, here are some tips that I try to follow with my own activity…
- 1 hour after getting contacted on social media
- 12 hours after receiving an email
- 1 hour after someone comments on your blog
Be available on both your blog site and social media after promoting your content or making an announcement.
The next element you need to consider is where you’re going to focus your attention and resources. Social media, email and blogging are great places to direct your attention.
First, there’s social media. On platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, a little interaction at minimum is a must. It wouldn’t be social media if you took the social part away and broadcasted instead.
You can use social media to:
- Thank your fans and followers
- Share content of mutual interest from others as well as your own
- Answer questions or issues as part of a customer service strategy.
Next, there’s email, where you can find huge benefits if you reach out to your audience with more than just your newsletter and offers. In email marketing, you have the opportunity to provide further customer service as well as hear from your audience directly for one reason or another.
Some examples of how you can use email marketing to interact with your audience include:
- Customer service – responding to any issues your customers may be having with your product(s)
- Wake up non-responders – sending out a customized email asking for them to confirm their interest.
- Offer exclusive thanks to email subscribers – offering discounts or free resources
Finally, there’s your blog. When you publish an article and promote it, you’re not done. You have to be there to respond to any comments you might get on your articles.
Responding to blog comments is a great way to gain subscribers and build a stronger influence. Your audience wants to see what you have to say about their input, so take the time to give them your response.
Along with your own blog, selectively commenting on other blogs related to your industry, where your target audience is likely to be, is also a great way to interact. It also helps you build relationships and partnerships with other companies.
Let’s say you received a complaint by email. Maybe your product is malfunctioning. What do you do? How do you respond?
Don’t be generic but rather customize and personalize your response based upon what the customer initially said.
On Facebook, your page has a section for reviews. Don’t leave those unanswered. Thank those who praise you and offer a solution(s) to those who have complaints.
On social media, users might share your content. Respond with a simple thank you, but better yet, make your response fit with the article shared. For example, ask a question about the article to keep the conversation going.
On your blog, when someone comments with their own ideas, give them your own feedback. Look at the link they share, when applicable, and share your input.
The best way to interact with your audience is to ask questions. This gives you the opportunity to keep the conversation going and thus build stronger relationships.
As for how to personalize, you need to keep in mind what platform you’re using. Be short on social media but longer and more in-depth in emails and on your blog.
Who’s Doing It Right?
While there are many companies and organizations out there who are effectively interacting with their audience, I’ve chosen just a handful to give you a glimpse at what some of them are doing.
First, there’s social media. I’ve found that Twitter has been the most interactive of all the platforms I’ve been on, so I did a little research and found these two examples of interaction done right:
Next, there’s email. I’ve used email for customer service requests, and I’ve also received emails with requests for some form of action. These are two examples of those types of emails, both of which were highly effective in getting my attention and making me take action:
Finally, there’s blogging. With your blog, you may receive several to many comments on each article. These shouldn’t go unanswered, and these two blog authors don’t allow them to be ignored:
Why audience engagement is important:
It allows you to use online marketing to its full potential and purpose in order to build stronger relationships with your audience as well as grow your brand loyalty and presence online.
When audience engagement would be most effective:
The more prompt you are at responding to others, the more likely your interaction would be effective.
Where audience engagement should take place:
To make your online marketing most effective, you need to be interactive on social media, in your email marketing, and on your blog.
How to make the most out of audience engagement:
Devote the necessary time and resources to respond in a way that fits the outlet and gives your audience a personalized, well-thought-out response.
Interaction with your audience is a key element to online marketing that cannot be ignored. Your audience now expects your response and in a timely manner. They expect to be treated as an individual, not with a generic, automated message. Build your influence by building upon your audience relationships online, and you will reap many benefits.