Have you ever watched longingly as other bloggers flaunt their engagement with their audience, while you cry alone in an empty comments corner?
Ever wonder what you’ve been doing so wrong when you try to boost blog audience engagement for your clients (or for yourself)? Chances are, what you’re doing isn’t wrong, but it may just not be enough.
Maybe you’ve been admiring your audience from afar. Pull them close.
Perhaps you’ve been flirting coyly for a while from your blogging balcony. Take them by the hand.
But you just haven’t mustered the right energy to compel your readers to take the plunge. Kneel down and put a ring on it.
Keeping an audience engaged with your writing is a key skill that all clients need you to possess. It’s also the foundation upon which a deeper writer-reader relationship is built, which can be particularly important with ongoing projects and retainer clients.
It takes consistent commitment to deliver on your promise of engaging content, ensuring that your readers can comprehend it, relate to it, learn from it, feel something about it, and do something with it.
If you’re ready to hear your audience shout, “We’re engaged!” then you need these five tips:
1: Make it understandable
Fun fact: the number one couples issue addressed by relationship counselors is not sex or money, but ineffective communication. That pitfall is not exclusive to romance; a blog post also suffers when either the content or the intent of the writing is misconstrued.
For communication to be effective and successful, it needs to be understood. To avoid confounding—and losing—your audience, don’t use a lot of specialized jargon and obtuse analogies.
No matter how complex, in-depth or technical your subject may be, it is important to present it in a clear and logical way. Your audience can’t relate to what they can’t understand.
2: Make it relatable
Drill down to the core of your topic on a human experience level. Your reader needs to understand the concepts as well as the words. A well-placed anecdote or well-constructed analogy can bring a blurry notion into focus.
I know, I know. I just warned against obtuse analogies.
But vivid, valid comparisons to relatable everyday things can go a long way in helping your audience visualize an unfamiliar or complex idea.
Relatability makes the information you are presenting easier to comprehend. Your audience will connect with you and your content if you make it as relatable as it is informative.
3: Make it informative
Even the simplest words are meaningless if your audience doesn’t learn anything from them. But this doesn’t mean you need to make your writing more like a textbook.
You simply need to engage your reader by presenting them with something they have not yet experienced.
If you can’t inform your audience about something entirely new, try presenting a new angle or a fresh perspective on a familiar topic.
For example, many people understand the acronym “KISS” to represent “Keep it simple, stupid” – a design principle created for the Navy in 1960 by Lockheed engineer, Kelly Johnson. The KISS priciple is applicable to almost every endeavor, including writing.
I prefer to “keep information surprisingly simple” when I write.
The original is punchy, but I found it mildly disheartening—was I actually stupid for not writing more simply? Plus, the “see Spot run” style of writing is just not me. So I amended it for myself.
Just as little sweet surprises can keep a romance feeling new, a mild element of surprise in your writing can be refreshing for your readers.
They won’t be astounded by something old-hat, so evoke that sense of amazement. And then make them care about it.
4: Make it evocative
Along with the facts, you must provide the feels.
Data and statistics only tell a small part of any story. Evocative narrative is what brings it to life.
You see this all the time in news headlines— instead of remaining objective, reporters make a subjective appeal to their readers’ basest of emotions: disdain, disgust, dread and indignation. Consider these recent headlines, both covering the same content:
1 killed in 3-vehicle crash in Liberty County
Mother of 4 killed in Liberty County crash. Children were in the vehicle…
One provides basic, objective facts; the other subjectively invokes dread, sympathy and sorrow.
The first headline is a very Dragnet-style, “just the facts” presentation. It is informative, but not evocative beyond the reader’s presumed sympathy at the loss of another human being.
The second one hits the heart – we may envision our own mother being killed, or our own children being traumatized by being witnessing and experiencing our own brutal demise.
But evocative writing doesn’t need to be disarming or tragic. I prefer writing that fosters positive feelings like strength, joy, compassion, encouragement, optimism, motivation, hope and wonder.
Does it matter what emotions you evoke? Of course it does, and your subject matter will partly dictate the necessary trajectory. Always keep your goal at the top of your mind as you write.
Words, tone and intent matter.
Intense, aggressive, gloomy words prompt negative feelings and can result in retaliation – or worse yet, inaction. Pleasant, peaceful, passionate and poignant words are empowering and can inspire support and positive action.
Returning to our analogy, romantic relationships contain a similar dynamic; basically, you get what you give.
Even if your article or blog is heavy on the technical side, providing your reader with emotional insight on your topic tells them why they should care.
Why does that matter? Because you also want your audience to do something with or about your words.
People won’t act or react if they don’t care.
5: Make it actionable
This is a vital step some writers, unfortunately, overlook. Without a call to action (CTA), everything you write ends abruptly when the reader reaches the final punctuation.
Give your readers something to do.
It may be a call for volunteerism, how-to steps for a project, or a simple “be kind” reminder; but at the very least, you want them to share your insights (and your blog) with others.
You don’t want the reader-romance you’re building to go stale. The CTA reignites the spark you lit at the beginning. When readers act or react to your posts, they are happily shouting from the proverbial rooftops, “We’re engaged!”
Audience engagement is essential to a freelance blogger’s success, and an engaged reader is a sharing reader. More than 90% of people who share online content do so for the primary purpose of enriching people’s lives.
A sharable blog is one that informs your audience in an understandable way and appeals to them by being evocative and relatable.
Carl W. Buehner touted the importance of passionately effective communication when he said:
They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.
I hope this post has made you feel more confident about blog audience building. I would love to see examples of some of the ways YOU engage your audience – tell me about it in the comments box!
Very informative, thank you. In my case, it’s more about how my audience decides to engage with me. A lot of people choose to send me congratulatory IG messages for my blog posts, which never ceases to amaze me. I greatly appreciate how they take the time of their day to message me letting me know they enjoyed what I wrote. However I wish the praise was public more often, I feel bad for even thinking that, but we are ego-driven creatures :/
Tari Davis says
Delfina, thanks for your comments. I think it is wonderful that you receive positive feedback on your writing, but I can certainly understand the desire to have such praise and commentary attached to the blog itself. Perhaps some other readers here can offer some insight on increasing public vs. private audience engagement.
I interview celebrities for my blog; while they get shared on the celeb’s social media pages and their audience say how much they loved reading their story, they rarely leave a message on the blog. I’m so glad they are being read and reshared while I don’t get to see how. Thank you for talking about the importance of including a CTA. We don’t want to leave the audience hanging after they finish reading the story. In my case, the CTA asks readers to follow the celeb on social media (with the URLs) or buy their product/ art/ service. In marketing terminology – it helps “convert.”
Tari Davis says
Wajendhar, how very interesting it must be to interview such a variety of personalities. Thank you for your valuable comments here. Maybe the BAFB family can put our heads together and brainstorm some ways to elicit more reader engagement at the source.
Anthony Dejolde says
How to engage an audience?
That’s the Huge question to answer if you want to maintain and run a blog that can continuously supply what an audience need. And by continuously giving them what they need, you assure yourself that they will keep coming back for more.
Great post here Tari! Viable points, too.
If I may add some thoughts… engaging an audience is not a simple endeavor. Coming from the broadcast media, audience engagement is crucial to any platform whether it’s a blog, radio or TV. If you lose your audience’s interest even for a few seconds they will look the other way (another blog or station), and you may — in the worse case scenario — lost them forever.
The basic principle at play here is that, you keep giving them what they need so they remain engaged, or if you’re the adventurous type… create a need they would most probably be interested in and be convinced about the FACT that they truly need to acquire it.
Oh yeah… there’s a lot of salesmanship at play when talking about audience engagement. 🙂
Love this post, Tari!
Enjoyed visiting here, Sophie! 🙂
Tari Davis says
Anthony, I think your thoughts add great value here. Indeed, audience engagement can be viewed as a form of salesmanship, and just like with any sales you must pitch with finesse. Too soft and you miss the mark, too strong can result in damage. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one surefire way to hit the sweet spot every time?
Thanks so much for your contribution here.
Ana Yong says
Great article! I really enjoyed reading it.
Tari Davis says
Ana, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
I think your advice was exactly what I needed to wake up my writing!
Tari Davis says
Hi Amy. Thanks for reading and commenting. I think sometimes all we need to put a brighter shine on our works is to polish up the basics a bit.
Wishing you great success.
Adam Webb says
Very informative post! While blogging is a great platform to show our expertise, interest and drive traffic to our website, we also need to make sure that our writing engages our audience. Following the above mentioned tips will surely help us create content that our readers will love and will keep them coming back for more. Thank you!