The online global conversation is thriving. As a marketing or social media professional, it’s your job to get people to engage with you and each other. Engagement increases brand loyalty, public conversations, and can serve as free advertising. Marketers must understand that a strong user experience and community health is measured by engagement, not necessarily how large your audience is. Engaging users online can get more people talking about your brand, can help you learn more about your customers and about your competitors.
You’ve included into your website features and tools that enable and encourage conversation with your audience or customers, but odds are, the majority of people who come to your website come to see what’s there without engaging, joining the conversation or sharing your content. We’ve outlined six tips on how to get your website users to be more engaged and participative.
1) Have a Community Leader – If you want your website to engage people and have them contribute to content regularly, have a visible person as your community leader. The community leader will interact with user, respond to them and answer questions, encourage them to participate and contribute content, and provide tips and ideas. Remember, people don’t have conversations with companies, they have conversations with people. Incorporate a strong human feel on your website to increase user participation
2) Support and Encourage User Comments – Comments extend a powerful invitation to interact with your brand. To encourage more participation allow user comments on every piece of content on your website as content comments help stimulate community conversations. Add social sharing buttons on your website and content. According to Lee Oden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, liking, bookmarking, blogging, referring, clicking, friending, connecting, subscribing and submitting inquiry forms and buying are all engagement measures. For articles, photos, videos, products or services, let users post their reviews. Your goal is to tell your audience how important their feedback is, which you can use to serve them better.
3) Get Key People Involved in Comment Threads – Get your senior executives and thought leaders in your industry to post comments and participate in threads. When these people show up in a mix of user comments, users feel good about it, because they sense that your organization cares enough to be involved in the conversation. This is a great way to build a stronger bond between users and your organization.
4) Notify Members When They Get Responses – Extending comments into a valuable conversation helps keep the conversation alive. Keep your online community engaged by notifying them with alerts to keep comment threads going. Everyone who comments on a piece of content can get email alerts whenever an additional comment is added to a thread. Without an alert, a comment thread can die prematurely, because people initially involved may not realize the discussion is still going. Make it easy for someone receiving a comment thread alert to unsubscribe in the event that high volumes become annoying. A daily digest email that aggregates all thread comments posted in the last day can be an effective user option.
5) Hold a Contest – Short-term contests are a great way to encourage online participation. Learn about your audience first, in order to enable them to respond to your contest as you’re contest should be based on user-generated content and should be valuable to your audience. Start with a goal to gain more fans and followers, improve your brand visibility, or drive more traffic to your website. Look for ways to cross-promote the visibility and participation in your content. Award prizes for best post of the week, member of the month, or best photo. Get creative and think outside the box when it comes to contests and prizes.
6) Host a Live Chat – Invite users to join a conversation around a topic related to your brand. Experiment with elements of live chat into your existing social media. Invite your audience to live-tweet at an event you are hosting or speaking to, comment on your company Facebook page about a new product or service, or contribute to questions to a conversation happening between experts in your industry during an online webinar. Invite audience members to ask questions of the host and presenter of the webinar via Twitter using a hash-tag. This method will help carry the conversation forward and works well for specialized audiences who do not have the opportunity to converse in-real-life.
Experiment with different ides to uncover the source of your low connection rates to improve your online engagement. Place yourself into the consumer attention path without disrupting their experience as this will help you determine how to engage with them effectively online. Motivate users toward taking a desired action by providing them with a variety of social experiences to engage with your brand. Remember, if you want to create a stronger brand identity and awareness, you will need to keep your content relevant, moving and interesting. Content is related to conversation, which can be the catalyst for online engagement.
How do you own your online conversation around your brand? What steps have you taken to inspire trust and get people to connect with your brand online?