Audience engagement should be your #1 metric for a couple of reasons.
First, if your followers make an effort to react to your posts or explore your blog, it means you’re on the right track. Your content is interesting enough that the audience doesn’t just scroll through and forget about it.
Second, engagement is crucial for nailing SEO (search engine optimization). It’s a clear signal to the search engine that your website doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. People find its content helpful. So, metrics like dwell time – the ones that describe user engagement – should be high on your priority list.
So, how do you engage your blog’s readers? Here are 8 ways to do just that.
1. Know Thy Audience
What makes any content engaging? Potential readers’ interest in what you have to offer.
Learn what types of content your audience loves. Most likely, they prefer visual content (infographics, videos) and long-reads (1,500+ words).
Besides that, it’s hard to say what exactly your audience would be thrilled to read. For example, if they are students, they may love essay services reviews like the ones NoCramming offers. But if they’re not, this content will be irrelevant for them.
The only way to know for sure is by experimenting with different approaches. Then, check the engagement stats to make data-driven decisions.
Remember to bridge the knowledge gap between yourself and your followers if needed. Add scaffolding – any additional information that would help the not-so-savvy readers understand your text. It can include internal links to your other posts, images that visualize complex concepts, tutorial videos.
2. It’s All About the Content Quality
It’s the quality of your content that will be the primary engagement driver. In other words, strive to deliver posts that people will finish reading and think, “Wow, it was awesome, more people should see it!”
There’s a 99% probability that your blog niche isn’t unique. And it’s fine. What matters is not only what you have to say but how you say it, too.
- Put quality above quantity. It’s tempting to publish short 500-word posts every other day, but that’s unlikely to be interesting enough for your audience. Put effort into your content. Dedicate time to proofreading and editing the texts and creating custom visuals, too.
- Be authentic. Your tone of voice and style are what make you, well… you. They are what will make you stand out even if you write about a topic as popular as writing a transfer essay or traveling across the U.S. Make your posts personal, use the first-person narrative, and avoid putting yourself into the box.
- Start a conversation with your readers. Never, ever talk down to them – that will drive most people away. Instead, write every post as if you were telling a story to your old friend over a cup of coffee.
- Hook them with a catchy headline. Use power words and unconventional phrasing. Make it clear what the text is about, too.
- Make your posts easy to read. Users’ attention is scarce these days. Avoid walls of texts – break the text down into small chunks of information. Use short sentences and paragraphs, lists, and visuals to make information easily consumable.
- Use interactive content. Polls, quizzes, surveys – these are the types of content aimed directly at driving up user engagement. But they have to be compelling enough for people to spend their time on them. (Think about BuzzFeed quizzes: they are silly but extremely popular.)
3. Encourage Comments
If you still don’t have a comment section, add it now. But as handy as it is, just having it at the bottom of every post won’t be enough. Your text has to make the audience want to comment – that’s an impressive feat to achieve these days.
- Invite readers to have a dialogue. Just writing “What do you think?” or “Share your story” will probably get you nowhere. Instead, ask for readers’ opinions or even advice on specific matters.
- Respond. Otherwise, it won’t be a dialogue. Thank them for their comments and start a conversation. A discussion may compel others to join in, too.
4. Add a Related Content Section
This is another must-have that will help you reduce the bounce rate, i.e. encourage your readers to continue exploring your blog. You can choose to show other posts from the same category in the CMS and/or add some internal links manually in the text itself.
5. Host Giveaways or Contests & Offer Freebies
Giveaways and contests are perfect for driving more traffic to your blog. People love free stuff. Just make sure that the prize is enticing enough for your target audience to throw their hats into the race.
As for freebies, the sky is the limit as to what you can offer. Here are just some ideas:
6. Introduce Newsletter Subscription
This is how you remind existing readers to keep coming back to your blog. Each email usually contains links to the latest posts with hooking excerpts and other updates, like freebies, giveaways, contests, etc.
If you want your audience to trust you with their email addresses, make content that’s worth their while. Write the newsletter the way you’d write a blog post. Be your true self, make the text engaging and easy to read, and add visuals.
As more users are concerned with their personal data usage, be transparent about what you’re going to do with it. Don’t hide this information on a random page – add it directly to the newsletter subscription form.
And once you have the email list, don’t spam their inboxes. A once-a-week newsletter is enough.
7. Harness the Power of Social Media Engagement
Don’t ever underestimate the power of social media. If you do it right, social media will:
- Drive traffic to your blog;
- Help you retain existing readers;
- Increase your exposure.
While social media management is a massive topic itself, here are 5 ideas for making the most out of your presence there:
- Don’t limit yourself to blog updates. The links to new blog posts won’t account for more than 20% of your social media content. The rest is up to you: remind your followers about older blog entries, show them some behind-the-scenes material, promote your freebies or newsletter.
- Add share buttons to your blog posts. If you do everything right at the content creation stage, your audience will want to share your content on social media. Make it easy for them: add share buttons right on the website.
- Set up a Facebook group. This is how you turn your audience into a real community and engage with them directly. Besides, Facebook groups’ posts rank high in the newsfeed, while updates usually go straight to the user’s notifications.
- Track shares. Most of them will be easy to find. When you do, thank your readers for the share.
- Engage in the comment section. Follow the same rules as with the comment section on your blog. Encourage subscribers to participate in a discussion with questions, respond to comments, and thank them for engagement.