Last weekend my family went to the Pride festival, an annual event here in St. Louis. The theme this year was “Be Yourself.” Pride celebrates each person’s right to live out his or her authentic sexual preference and orientation.
As you may imagine, any event with the theme “Be Yourself,” draws some really fun and interesting characters. This year, there was some great entertainment in the kids’ area of the park where the festival is held. The first woman was a teacher. She sat and sang traditional children’s songs while she played the guitar. The kids sat in a circle around her.
When she began, the little ones showed some interest and attention, but also a typical amount of restlessness. After a few minutes, she moved into some audience participation songs. Having the kids stand up and move, and take an active role in singing and acting out the songs was transformational. The kids immediately went from a state of forced attention to sincere enjoyment and 100% engagement in the performer.
The next entertainer stood at a microphone and sang less traditional songs to the kids while she played the guitar. The kids wandered around distracted, mine complained of being hungry or hot. Until she hit on a song that required input from the little ones. They started to yell out answers, giggle at the song, and dance to the music. Soon they were up on the small stage dancing hip to hip with the performer. Again, they were 100% engaged.
I was struck in both cases by the 180 the kids did once the performer began engaging them in what she was doing. And because I’m always thinking about business, it brought home to me the power of engaging your audience on social media. And what a difference it makes to your business.
Is your audience wandering around distracted and hardly noticing you on social media? Or are they engaging and dancing your dance with you?
In most cases, it’s unfortunately the first scenario. Which is obviously bad for business.
So, what makes people engage with you? What can you do to get them singing along with you?
1. Do Good Stuff
There is just no way around this one. If the festival performers had been horrible, it would not have made a difference how they tried to engage the children. Same goes for you. If you aren’t producing good content ~ and doing it consistently ~ you don’t have anything valuable for people to engage in.
Know your market. And produce content on your blog and your social media networks that solves their problems, makes their lives easier, and keeps them on top of new developments.
2. Tell Your Stories
Just broadcasting the facts won’t do it though. It becomes as interesting as listening to your college chemistry professor in a 500 person lecture hall. Stories engage people. Because we can all relate to stories. And, we all have stories. Don’t be afraid to share what happens in your life with your social media audience, just like you would share with any other friend.
Not only are stories more engaging, they expose you to your audience as a human being. And humans are much more engaging than businesses.
3. Use Video and Audio
You’ve likely heard that using your picture on your profile is essential when it comes to engaging your audience on social media. Using video and audio will take this engagement to the next level. Most everyone has gotten the picture thing. Not many are using video and audio.
YouTube is a free way to get your videos in front of your market. And yes, I’ve heard all about how you don’t even have to appear on camera to make a video. Of course that’s true, but if you’re looking for engagement, step through that fear and make a video. Your audience isn’t going to laugh at you or even notice your bad hair day. They’ll respect you for making a video. And, more importantly, they’ll feel like they know you better.
SoundCloud is a free way to get your audio out. It’s a great platform for the really bad hair days. And your audience will feel like they know you better when you’re talking to them rather than just writing to them.
Who doesn’t engage more with people they know, than with strangers?
4. Have a Conversation
This is something so many people get wrong. They use social media as a platform to broadcast from in hopes that people will eventually buy from them. But Twitter isn’t a virtual Target store. None of your social media networks are. People don’t come to shop. They come to talk.
So talk with them, not just to them. When they ask questions, respond. When they tell you about their day, respond. When they comment on your stuff, respond. And keep responding . . .
Imagine being at a party and someone gives you a good tip about how to increase your blog’s readership. Would you just look at them? If they are talking to you, obviously you would respond.
Social media is no different. Your audience is talking to you. But most people fail to respond. If you pick up the conversation, your market is going to engage with you.
5. Be One of the Gang
This goes back to too much broadcasting and not enough engaging. You are an expert in your market. And you want your market to see that. Too often that translates into being afraid to ask questions or start conversations for fear that your audience will see that you don’t know everything.
The fact is, you don’t know everything, no one will believe you do, and no one likes a know-it-all anyway. At the same time you are putting out great content, you also want to be engaged in learning with and from your audience.
Don’t you engage more with your classmates than with your teachers? If you are a great source of knowledge, yet also someone who is always looking for more knowledge from and with others, you’ll have great success engaging your audience on social media.
Are there other things you’ve found effective in getting your audience to sing and dance with you on social media? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.