In a recent study conducted engagement was the second highest priority for Marketers at 29.4%.
Though the number may not seem that significant, the fact that as Marketers we consider it our second highest priority (sales related priorities were number one), it means that it’s noteworthy enough to write an entire post about it.
If you’d like the results from the full research report you can fill in the form below to download it.
In a Social Media driven environment, engagement is one of the key factors that determine how well or poorly a Digital Marketer is performing.
For the most part it’s really a hit or miss situation, but there are things you can do as a Digital Marketer to increase it.
Now for the purposes of this article I’m speaking specifically about engagement within a business context, and not someone who creates and posts content as a hobby for entertainment.
The Number One Reason Your Engagement is Low
Before going into how to do it we need to explore why it’s not happening so you don’t keep making the same mistakes that sabotages your engagement rate.
The reason why it’s been so hard to drive greater engagement for your content is simple...
You’re thinking more about what’s in it for you (the goal you’re after) rather than what’s the value to the audience, and how the content benefits them.
You could literally stop reading this article right now, make that small shift, and you’d start seeing better engagement for your content.
When I’m creating content I have five (5) elements that are an absolutely must. I call it the 5S’s (yeah not very original). One of those S’s is ‘Solution’. Meaning, for every piece of content I create it has to include a solution to a problem or challenge my audience is seeking answers to.
If this isn’t a part of the equation, then the content is completely worthless in my view (and I’m sure in the audience’s view as well).
The reason this element is so important to me is because:
It ensures I’m not creating content that focuses more on what’s in it for me than them
The audience can walk away feeling it was worth their time, and added value to their lives in some way, rather than fluff to stroke my ego.
Take for example the CMG company page on LinkedIn compared to more established brands such as PwC and Starbucks.
Though these two brands are more known and loved worldwide, more established than mine, and has millions more followers than I do, my page still has a higher engagement rate than they do since its launch.
Why is that?
Because my content is more focused on what’s in it for my audience, rather than what’s in it for me. It adds more value and thus has a higher engagement rate.
This is how you need to start thinking about your content…value to them first, before value for you.
Do that and you’ll see your engagement increase.
7 Questions to Ask If Your Content Has Low Engagement
Though creating content to benefit you more than your audience is the number one reason your content has such a low engagement, there are other factors that can also contribute to a low engagement.
Here are seven (7) questions I recommend you ask yourself every time you are creating content:
1. Does my content add value to my audience?
This point is so important that I not only had to mention it again, but put it as the first point to always consider.
Does your content inform or educate them in some way? Is it helpful and useful? Does it improve the quality of their life or well-being?
I need you to really pay attention to what I’m about to say next…
Understand this, your audience and customers don’t care about you or your company. They don’t care about the features and benefits of what you offer. The only thing they care about is how their lives can be made better in some way from consuming your content.
I worked at a company a few years ago that brought me in to execute marketing for them. The first thing I did was start creating content around being helpful to the target audience through educational content.
Within the first month they saw a drastic increase in their engagement on all Social Media platforms, something that they struggled with in the past, even with hiring an agency.
The reason why it worked so well was because the content shifted from being about the company and what they sold, to being the solution to challenges their audience had.
2. Is my content targeting the right audience?
Many times the reason your content isn’t getting the engagement you want is because it’s better suited for another audience.
Something I talk about quite often that I discovered through my own experiences of Content Marketing and content creation is there are two types of audiences:
The audience who you think is your audience
The audience who actually is your audience
The best example I can use to illustrate this is a campaign I managed in 2018 with a team.
When we first started the general assumption of everyone on the team, including myself, was that our audience would be mostly male, as they’re the ones that tend to be more entrepreneurial and more willing to take risks than women.
What we discovered was that it was the complete opposite.
Turns out majority of our audience were women in every aspect. Women engaged more, women purchased more, women were more interested in the campaign on every level.
Once we discovered that and changed our content to match women, we saw a 200% increase in engagement and sales almost overnight…literally.
In this example we thought our audience were males, but our actually audience were females.
3. Is my audience too broad?
A mistake I see too many brands make is trying to appeal to too many people with the same message and content.
Yes it may be easier and less costly to do so in terms of time, effort, and resources, but in terms of producing results it’s a losing formula.
This is something I know all too well from experience.
When I first launched 5y2m.com I wanted to create content for everyone because I know it’s the type of content anyone could benefit from regardless of age, race, or gender.
Once I started analyzing the data I realized this wasn’t working. I then decided to looked on who engaged the most with my content, and used that data to create a more targeted approach with content targeted to a specific demography (men and women in their 30’s).
Shortly after engagement grew, not just in terms of readership but in shares.
Though your content may be valuable to everyone, you still want to focus on one or at most two main groups. It’s not that you’re ignoring everyone else, it’s so your messaging can be more targeted, thus producing better results.
4. Is my content relevant to my intended audience?
Your audience may be right, but maybe it’s your content they don’t see as being relevant to them.
This means they don’t see what you’re putting out there as valuable or useful to them.
This typically happens when Marketers fail to take the time to deeply research their audience to uncover what’s important to them. Sure you may be telling them how amazing your products are, but if they have no use for them why should they care?
Sure you may be telling them about six (6) things to do before buying a new home, but if these are graduates that are unemployed, it’s highly unlikely their going to have use for tips on buying a new home.
I worked at a company where prior to me working there the marketing agency created content around quizzes and brain teasers. Problem is the company is a B2B and brain teasers had nothing to do with the company’s brand or its audience.
Take time to understand your audience and the type of content that would be meaningful to them.
5. Is my content connecting?
This one is a bit tricky.
You could have the right audience, right content, and it’s valuable, but the way it’s presented visually isn’t connecting with your audience or seen as relatable.
Haven’t you had a situation where you saw a company promoting a product that you knew would be really great for you, but because the copy visually didn’t have anyone on it that represented who you are you decided not to buy it?
Then, there has been a situation where someone produced a piece of content telling a story, and throughout the entire story you just kept smiling to yourself and nodding saying “Yup! I know exactly what you mean”.
In the second instance you were more engaged with the content because you could relate to how it was being presented. You could connect with it.
Using the example of an ad created to promote a PDF report I did
My data shows me that 65% of my audience are women between 25-45, and mostly from Jamaica. Therefore, I created the ad to better reflect my audience visually, thereby connecting with them, and increasing engagement for the ad.
That ad increased my LinkedIn company page following by over 450% and increased engagement on the page by over 1000% in the space of seven (7) days.
This is why having a deep understanding of your audience is so key, because if you don’t know how they think, what motivates them, or why they do what they do, you won’t know how to create the type of content they would want to engage with.
6. Is my content focused too much on selling?
This is a point I continue to over-stress and overemphasize. Brands that focus too much on selling rather than adding value FIRST.
As a matter of fact, I wrote an entire blog post about it.
It’s pretty straightforward: you can’t sell today the way how you use to sell. It doesn’t work. You can’t directly pitch your audience, without building a connection and trust with them first, and expect them to engage with what you’re doing or even care.
Audiences engage with content that they believe benefited them in some way. Whether it’s to solve a problem, make their lives better, or simply put a smile on their face.
If you’re constantly doing a sales pitch with your content, your audience will start ignoring you. Why? Because 1). People don’t like being sold to, and 2). Everyone else does it so there’s nothing special about your content that gets them to pay attention, much less engage.
Focus on non-sales content that adds value first, builds trust, before trying to sell.
7. Does my content deliver on what it promises?
This one I think is the most annoying and frustrating for me.
There’s nothing I hate worse than clicking on a piece of content, expecting to get one thing, and being given something that I didn’t want.
An example of this is if someone has the title How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website, and the first thing I see is “1. Create quality content”.
“2. Make sure you promote your content on Social Media”
“3. Ensure that you’re authentic”
By number 3 I’m like “What the hell?!”
I’m yet to be given anything practical and actionable that will help me drive traffic.
If your content says 6 ways to improve your productivity, don’t start off with productivity then go off on a rant that has nothing to do with the title of your content.
Even if you don’t give them what they expect immediately, the structure of your content should indicate that it’s leading up to it.
Steps to Increase Your Engagement Numbers
Now that we’ve gone through the “Why” let’s go through the “How” (back to point 7 on delivering on the promise).
1. Identify and research your audience
If you read every blog post I’ve published on this website or posts on Social Media you will see I constantly mention identifying and researching your audience. The reason why is when it comes to engagement it is the most important aspect.
Look at it this way, the better your understanding of your audience, their challenges, motivations, hopes and aspirations, the better you can tailor your content for them.
If you want to go a step further do what I do, take note of even the words used when your audience comments on your content (assuming you have content already out there).
Engagement is all about being relevant and relatable to your audience, and in order to do that you have to match and mirror almost everything they do, even to how they look physically.
Get them to say “Wow this person really understands me” and you’ll see your engagement numbers increase.
2. Create content of value and relevance to your audience
Again this post is focused on creating content that is business focused and not someone who is creating content as a hobby with no end goal in mind.
One of the reasons researching your audience is so important, and the most time should be spent doing it, is because it allows you to truly understand your audience, what challenges they have, goals and ambitions, and how your content can be positioned as a potential solution for them.
Once you understand these create content around that. This will allow you to quickly get their attention, and get them to at least be curious about what you have to say, because remember they’re searching for a solution at this point.
Even if your content is focused on being entertaining, it should ultimately lead to a solution, an end result your audience is after.
Now there’s one thing I need to bring to your attention.
When creating content don’t think of it as either working or not working. Increasing engagement is about testing and refining. Putting content out as a test and then figuring out which pieces of content are most effective and which are not based on your engagement numbers for each.
Also, identify where certain types of content do the best on a particular platform.
For example, if you’re posting on Instagram there is content that will do better in feeds versus stories, and some content that does better on IGTV.
Same for LinkedIn. There is some content I post that does better on my personal profile than the company page and vice-versa.
Look at a recent post I did on both my LinkedIn personal and company page about Marketers and Creatives being micromanaged by their bosses and clients (content they can relate to).
Typically, posts on my personal profile do better, but in this case the post on the company page had a higher engagement.
This probably has to do with the fact this piece of content is more targeted towards Marketers, and 90% of the total audience on my company page has mostly Marketers, whereas my personal page has a mix of several other job functions, marketing making up roughly 40%.
The best way to know is testing.
3. Use data to identify content doing well
Now that you’ve tested your content identify which content is doing well through data.
Pretty much every Social Media platform has a way to measure which content is doing well based on views and engagement numbers. You want to use these to identify what topics your audience wants more of.
Additionally, identify what format (whether text, image, video, or audio), and even time of the day, day of the week, and gender. The more granular you can get with your data, the more targeted your content, the higher your engagement will be.
Take a look at these three posts I made on LinkedIn.
Using the metrics from each post I identify that these are the posts doing better than most based on Likes, Views, and Comments.
Keep these three pieces in mind as we go into the next point.
4. Repurpose content doing well to increase engagement and reach
Once you’ve identified which pieces of content are doing the best compared to others you don’t want to just stop there.
Now you want to amplify your engagement through a method known as repurposing. This is simply taking a piece of content in one format and recreating it in another format. So it can be a blog post that is recreated into a video, or an audio clip from a podcast that is recreated into a quote for Social media.
Using this tactic allows you to increase not only your engagement, but to extend your reach to broaden your audience and brand awareness.
Therefore, looking at the three pieces of content from the last point, this is how I repurposed them.
The first I repurposed into an article post on LinkedIn's microblog platform.
The second I repurposed into a voiceover 4-minute audio clip.
The third I repurposed into an infographic.
Now take a look at the engagement numbers once they have been repurposed.
Not only has my engagement gone up from the recreated content, but through shares it has allowed me to extend my reach into my audience’s network to reach others I didn’t have access to previously, thus increasing awareness for the CMG brand.
FYI though you may not be able to see it on the infographic post, it got over 500 views and also four reshares (LinkedIn's glitchy system isn't showing it for some reason).
If you really want to go above and beyond what your competitors may do run Social Media ads to boost or extend your reach even further.
My Final Thoughts
Engagement isn’t as difficult as it may appear. It will only seem that way if you’re more focused on what’s in it for you as the Marketer, rather than how it benefits the audience or customer first.
To truly create content that’s engaging you have to understand your audience and what they want, create content relevant and valuable to them based on that understanding, and finally identify what works and recreate other formats around those content pieces.
Use data to continuously refine your content and approach. Remember, don’t think of your content as a home run (one swing and you win the game), but think of it as putting a few runs on the board that wins the game over time.
Finally, be unique with your presentation of your content. This will help to stand out among your competitors, and get the attention of your intended audience.
One question I’m always asking myself is, “How can I present my content in a way unlike anything anyone else is doing?”. This allows me to always strive to be unique in my content, and go the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing, thus breaking through the noise of everyone else.
You need to take the same approach when it comes to your content if you want to increase your engagement, especially on Social Media.