How to Fan the Flames of Consumer Engagement

May 29, 2015


Article ImageIf you have ever doubted the importance of content marketing before, now is the time to put your mind at ease. The phrase "Content is King" is by no means a myth, and now it is more important than ever. However, if by content you're thinking, "I'll have to get more articles out". Stop right there, as contrary to what you may think, a block of text does not sit well with the average user.

If we're honest with ourselves, we very rarely read an article from start to finish, even if it is interesting. That's because as humans, we get bored quickly and that means potential customers lose interest fast if you don't provide them with a little "eye-candy".

Many brands have yet to experiment with anything other than written content, but there are alternatives to this that can help companies increase the heat on their content marketing game and fan the flames of consumer engagement.

Visuals Are Key

You may have seen the odd meme and gif flying around, and yes, if that is suitable for your business then it's something you should try. Memes and gifs work on most social media platforms and people love them, but more importantly they love to share them. A visual breaks up the dry text and tweets, and if it's something relatable they'll relate to your brand, too.

Another way to use visuals is by transforming articles into dynamic infographics. Not only do they look pleasing to the eye, but they are easier to understand and digest. Articles that contain a lot of facts and figures are great fodder for infographics, and can transform a boring subject into an interesting and shareable post.

Visuals in general are ideal for most social networks. But when it comes to how users consume content, each social network is different, so it's worth playing to the strengths of each of them.

Facebook

Although rumour has it that Facebook is losing value where content marketing is concerned, this isn't a problem with the technology of the Facebook business page itself, but rather in how business owners are using it. To plan your strategy, it is best to look at how Facebook gets used.

Interactive apps--Facebook users tend to spend a lot of time on gaming or interactive apps, so if you have the budget, why not create your own? It's pretty easy and is bound to get more people engaging with your brand. It doesn't have to be too flashy; apps can range from video games, to discussions to reviews, and can really encourage users to interact with your brand.

Video--Interestingly, Facebook now beats YouTube when it comes to the amount of video being shared. And with online video quickly becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, small businesses that fail to include it in their internet marketing strategies are missing out. Video is naturally engaging and in an age of information overload, it's vital for small businesses to offer content that is easy to digest. Apps such as Twitter's Vine, with its six-second maximum clip length, also make it much easier and more accessible to create video.

Twitter

Over 500 million people worldwide use this social platform, so it is the ideal tool for businesses. But success on Twitter is not achieved by filling your feed with praise about yourself and your company. It's achieved by using the right content to influence and engage with your target audience.

Hashtags and trending topics--You can't talk about marketing on Twitter without talking about hashtags. They rule the world of Twitter, and it's wise to get well-versed in the art of using them. Including Hashtags in your tweets makes them reach a larger audience. Your tweet not only goes out to all your followers, but also to everyone who follows, or searches for that particular hashtag. You should also pay attention to trending topics (hashtags) and target or create content surrounding them. If it's "trending" then it's hot stuff, which means lots of people are talking about it, and right there is your chance to swoop in with your amazing meme, gif, or interactive content for them to engage with.

Polls, contests and giveaways--Social promotions go a long way in developing emotional bonds with your customers, as well as getting a lot of engagement. Contests and giveaways are a fun way to get your customers involved and generate buzz about your brand. After all, everyone loves to win, and most people also love to share what they've won, which results in more lovely user-generated content for your company. Consumers also like to feel valued, and love to contribute their opinion, especially on social media. By creating a poll you're encouraging them to engage with your brand, while also giving them the opportunity to voice their concerns. With the results from the poll, you then have a unique article or infographic that your followers have helped to create, which will make them more likely to read it and retweet it.

Instagram

Instagram is all about the visuals--you can't even post without one. So, it goes without saying that written content won't go down well, but who needs articles anyway, when a picture tells a thousand words?

Visual storytelling--Instagram is designed to make everyday things look good. It even has a ton of filters and effects that help users do just that, so take advantage of it. Tell your brand story in pictures (or videos) and make it look exceptional. Whether you're a brand focused on raising awareness of something, a funny brand, or brand that provides a service, use Instagram to show your business in the best light possible, i.e. through a filter. Share attractive images of your product, people using/wearing your product or service and don't forget to tag.

Photo contests--Photo contests are a great way to increase visibility of your brand on Instagram. It can help you gain a myriad of followers, and even more brand mentions. Why? Because users of Instagram love taking pictures and they love being noticed. Set up a creative photo contest that has something to do with your brand, product or service, along with a hashtag and a prize of some sort, and you'll undoubtedly reap the rewards. Just be patient, if you're account is fairly new, it could take a while before it gets going.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a new one for content marketers but it's the fastest growing social media site in the world. So, it provides a big marketing opportunity for those willing to endeavour.

The whole premise of interest is for users to create boards about the things they like, share them and follow people based on their pins, rather than who they are. This gives some unpopular brands an opportunity to shine, as it allows you to departmentalize your business, and break it down into manageable chunks for potential customers. For example, a consumer might be interested in a certain aspect of your business, but not the whole brand. They don't have to follow you, but they can follow that board.

Create tutorial boards and give expert advice--It's wise to create tutorial boards. Of course it depends on your business, but showing potential customers how to use your product with a group of tutorial videos, or collecting videos from other sources is useful content that consumers may pin and come back to. In addition, by presenting yourself as an expert in your field, you can build relationships with customers. This kind of "knowledge marketing" makes consumers think of you when they need a product or service.

Let customers in--What I mean by this is letting customers see behind the scenes, by sharing photos of the manufacturing line or other essential part of your operation. Doing this makes customers feel like they're on the inside of the company and ultimately see you as a relatable, down-to-earth brand. Also, if you've had some positive feedback, get customers to create testimonials for you, and pin them to a board, along with a photo or visual of the note. It creates valuable engagement, and shows that you're connecting with your customers.

These are just some alternatives to the more traditional forms of content marketing. Some will work better on certain social networks, but that's not to say they won't work on others. Some of these may also be unsuitable for your particular brand. However, all of these are at least worth considering for inclusion in any content marketing plan. You may just be surprised by the results.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)