Slowly but surely, bloggers and creative entrepreneurs are starting to realize that in order to accomplish their blogging and/or business goals, an engaged following is more important than a large following. An engaged following is how you develop a community around your brand and create buzz about your brand/what you have to offer. Keep reading to find out the number one thing you need to do to grow an engaged following.
So, the number one way (and actually the only way) to grow an engaged following is to…(you probably guessed it) ENGAGE. That seems super obvious, right? But it’s so crazy how many bloggers don’t understand that in order to receive more engagement, you have to be willing to interact with your ideal audience. Let’s talk a bit more about why engagement is beneficial for your brand and how to boost your engagement.
Why should you bother engaging?
Engaging with your audience instantly humanizes your brand.
I find it so annoying when I’m calling a large company like a bank or a cellular service and I’m met with an automated “genie” that prompts me to speak and explain what I’m calling about. After several rounds of stating my issue, I’m usually breathing a sigh of relief when I’m being connected to a real person (anyone else have this problem? Or am I the only one who phone genies can’t understand?). When I’m speaking with a human representative, we can connect and understand one another better than I can with a phone genie.
And just like with my horrible phone luck, when you use automated software to leave comments on social platforms or blogs, you’re actually eliminating the chance to form genuine connections with your audience.
Your audience wants to know that they can relate to you, and they want to know who you are aside from the face of your brand. Engaging with your audience directly provides them with the opportunity to truly connect with you and assures them that you actually notice them.
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Engagement (or lack of) affects your reputation.
Whether you choose to interact with your audience or not, that decision will affect your reputation as a blogger or business owner. Kendra and I didn’t realize the extent of this until just recently, when we received this message from one of our amazing followers:
"It means a lot that y'all always take time to interact and respond, so encouraging!"
We respond to every single blog and Instagram comment, because we are appreciative of the time that women take out of their day to leave a comment. It’s something that we don’t take lightly, and that is apparent to our audience as well.
Engagement is a factor that Kendra and I personally consider in our perception of other bloggers and business owners. When I read an awesome posts from months before and I scroll down to the comment section and see that none of the previous comments were ever acknowledged by the blogger, it prevents me from leaving a comment, and it’s off-putting.
I get it. Bloggers are extremely busy. But we should never be so busy that we can’t comment with a simple “thank you” to acknowledge the people who support our brands.
Another side to engagement as a reputation builder is the shift that’s taking place regarding what it really means to be an influencer. At first, big brands just look at sheer numbers (page views, unique hits, Instagram followers) to determine sponsorship opportunities with bloggers and smaller brands. That era is quickly coming to an end. Now, large brands want to know that you have a relationship with your followers before agreeing to a deal. They want to see that your followers are truly responsive to your content (sharing, liking, commenting, etc)!
Your engagement makes you stand out
Not only does interacting with your audience humanize your brand and affect your reputation, it also helps you to set yourself apart in your industry. Let’s face it. Many blogging niches are incredibly popular. Differentiating yourself is necessary in order to keep your audience coming back! Taking the time to respond to comments and taking the initiative to start a conversation with others could be the reason why a client/customer chooses your product or service!
How to boost your engagement
If your audience isn’t responding to what you’re posting, it’s possible that you could be missing the mark regarding their interests and what kind of content they want to read/watch/hear.
This can be solved by surveying your audience (the act of surveying itself will boost engagement, and you’ll find out directly from your audience what they really want to learn). You can conduct your survey with your mailing list subscribers, the social platform where you have the largest following, or within a Facebook group that your ideal audience is in. Surveys are awesome because they give you insight into what your audience actually wants, and they provide you with ideas of what you should discuss on your blog, podcast, social networks, etc.
Here’s an example of how we surveyed our Instagram following about what content they wanted to see on the blog while we were still growing our mailing list!
Make sure that the content you’re producing is valuable to your audience. People are more likely to engage on posts that they perceive to be valuable. Value doesn’t have to mean an exclusive secret. Maybe you provide value on your social media by making your followers laugh, by inspiring them, by sharing your progress on a project behind-the-scenes, or by teaching them how to do something. Remember that how you provide value should be a reflection of your brand’s identity.
Consider if you are inviting your audience to engage with your content. This simple step is one that many bloggers and business owners miss. It can be as easy as asking a question at the end of your posts.
People love to talk about themselves, and questions are a great way to signal to your audience that you take interest in their perspectives and experiences. If you do choose to ask a question, select one that is simple to answer. Asking multiple questions or really thought-provoking questions may deter your audience from answering you.
We hope that you’ll consider engagement with your audience as one of your top priorities this year! We want to hear from you! How do you engage with your audience?
P.S. Are you an entrepreneur in the health and wellness industry struggling to land clients? Then you’ll want to check out our free video series, 5 Days to Consistent Clients!