Diving into the world of real-time content, where your tweets, posts, blogs, etc., are consumed the minute they’re published, is not for the rigid. Every viable business is solving someone’s problem or making someone’s life better, which means that no matter the subject, someone will care enough to read about it – and you’ve got to be prepared to roll with what the audience is telling you.
In fact, that’s where you need to start – from the perspective of the people who will be consuming your content. These 12 tips will help keep your audience top of mind – and keep your content engaging.
1. Be strategic and answer the question of “why”
As a rule of thumb, always ask “why” when setting your audience engagement strategy and approach. Make your purpose known to your teams from the very beginning of planning and execution. The voice of your target audience should be evident in the content itself, in the sense that that reader would conclude, “this is written for me.”
2. Embrace the natural language of your audience
Your audience communicates in a conversational manner, and you should as well. Embracing the natural language of your audience allows you to connect at a deeper level and engage them as part of your brand conversation.
Your #audience talks in a conversational manner & so should you to connect deeper says @robgarner
Embracing language enables the spirit of the audience to become part of your brand and voice, and helps balance your business identity toward your audience. What literal language cues does your audience use, down to the keyword level, and how do they speak generically about your product or service?
3. Monitor the transient conversations of your audience for content cues
Publish and converse on your primary platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., but also monitor and engage one-off conversations in smaller forums, blog comments, and other user-generated content communities. The sum of those smaller conversations can often exceed that of the larger networks, and your consideration shows that you and your business value your audience no matter where they may congregate. These conversations also can be invaluable for identifying new content ideas that resonate across your entire audience target.
4. Know social content signals can affect your search audience
As an active real-time content publisher, your social footprint creates signals that result in deeper exposure in both search engines and social networks. Know how your social media management efforts impact search visibility, and vice versa. Be prepared, as Moz’s Rand Fishkin advises, because the next generation of search engines will start to emphasize engagement related to social shares. And, in turn, searchers can comprise a new and qualified audience for you.
5. Know the keyword and SEO tactics that help improve your audience effectiveness in social channels
Keywords are not just an SEO tactic; they are connections to people in social channels. Having good search chops also can help you find deep conversations in social, as well as new networks and audiences. Having clean SEO and tech hygiene on your own blog and website also helps your content reach other people via automated processes, such as social sharing and search crawling, indexing, and retrieval.
6. Engage one bird to attract whole flocks
Engaging with your audience and key influencers can help extend your messaging and communications from one-to-one then one-to-many, and finally many-to-many when those influencers share and converse. People will listen to you, of course, but key influencers who carry your message are incredibly valuable and compelling.
7. Give a lot, and you get back a lot
Most businesses are competing with “free” in some way. Some of the best things to give to your audience are your time, content, and digital assets. If you feel like you are giving away too much, then you probably are on the right track. (This approach works for businesses of all sizes.) You are actively working to build your audience – and the loyalty of your audience.
8. Encourage and demonstrate trustworthiness with your audience and with search engines
Trust is a social thing and a search thing. Build trust with your audience, but also build trust with search engines by policing spam, providing good content, and keeping good SEO hygiene with your digital content assets. You need this trust to resonate with velocity and in real time across networks and search engines.
9. Find the conversational demand of your audience in social spaces
Study in-the-moment conversations to discover the evolving and living language and triggers of your audience. Use this language to engage with your audience and inform your content marketing strategy. Conversational demand is findable by keyword triggers and by human review.
10. Listen to your audience
Your audience will leave you feedback – they’ll tweet to you, comment on your blog, etc. Use this feedback to inform future and current content – inform your business approach, inform your products and services; share accordingly with the right people in your organization.
11. Remember that you are part of a shared content conversation about your company
Engaging your audience is a two-way street. You will be able to speak on behalf of your company, but respect the fact that there may be a separate conversation about how your audience perceives you as an individual.
12. Remember that you are never done
Audience identification and management is iterative; it is not a campaign-based initiative. It is a manifestation of your business and requires a significant live presence. This can be an exhausting thought as you ramp up for a real-time content presence. But once you get going, it becomes a lot easier, especially when you set your expectations accordingly. Your audience won’t stop reading, so don’t stop producing fresh content to put in front of them.
There’s a lot more to the practice of producing and disseminating real-time content, but keeping the audience’s perspective at the forefront of your strategy is a big step in the right direction.
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Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via pixabay.com
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