Working predominantly in social media means I’m constantly creating content for clients. User engagement is a metric that you should hold in high regard as it can show three things. Firstly, it shows that you’re resonating with someone and you’ve tapped into something they understand, at least to some degree. Secondly, it’s an avenue for feedback and delivers insight into the perspectives of your target audience. And finally, it can reveal future opportunities. Only through an engaged audience can you begin to map the real identity of who it is your targeting.
But how do you create better engagement? There are some obvious factors that contribute to an engrossing post or article, such as design and copy. But the foundation of any successful content is built upon an understanding of who the target audience is. So, here’s a few tips to mastering the art of nailing your target audience, to increase engagement.
With attention spans at an all time low, the window to catch someone’s attention is shrinking. Which makes sense considering we live in an age where content is everywhere. Try to imagine how many advertisements you’ve succumbed to viewing since you woke this morning. You’ll likely get bored trying to recount them all. As a content creator it’s this everyday boredom that you’re tasked to overcome. Try to use imagery and wording that’s relatable to the intended viewer. As creatures of vanity we like to see ourselves in what we observe.
Now I don’t mean literally talk to them, although replying to your follower’s comments is a sure-fire way to increase engagement. But in terms of content creation, try to imagine who it is that you’re talking to and imagine you’re speaking to them directly. If you’re trying to target chefs for instance, try searching for online forums dedicated to foodservice, to see how they communicate. Take the time to research the types of language they use and apply that accordingly (beware of cliché jargon). Something that’s effective is addressing your audience as an individual, as opposed to a group. This can make your content more personable.
Here’s hoping this tip doesn’t destroy any potentially great ideas, but this is something that I live by. With many of my initial ideas getting the boot in favor of exploring alternate avenues. When presented with a new project, the initial excitement will lead to a flood of different executions, some of which will probably be pretty clever. However, I urge you to, if not scrap them, neatly tuck them away for later. Here’s why; Whilst at university my year group was tasked with creating a print ad promoting a Miele vacuum. It boasted a powerful suction, more powerful than any other vacuum (sounds like I’m still trying to sell it). So, what did I do? I looked at the shape and features of the vacuum and found my point of entry. With my pen and pad in hand I swiftly scribbled away, turning this everyday vacuum into an imposing octopus, the most powerful sucker of the sea (I promise that wasn’t the tagline). With hose-like tentacles and a dust bag for brains I can admit to a sense of self-satisfaction upon handing in my prized work. Which would explain my embarrassment when the many octo-inspired entries were revealed on presentation day. It was clever, but in no way original. This was the price I paid for latching onto my initial idea, and not letting go, much like my suction cupped creation. But now I know, that if you can come up with an idea that quickly, then so can your competition. Continue to push your creative whenever you’re making content because your audience will reward you when you present them with something new.
For most marketing and communication professionals, much of your content will be produced from the comfort of your desk chair. So, unless your agency owns a ball pit or overlooks the botanical gardens, you wouldn’t be blamed for the odd day where you lack inspiration. It’s on days like this that I find it’s best to let your feet wander, instead of the mind. Working for a range of foodservice clients, I often choose to take myself to a café setting to prepare my content. This way I can see and observe the people that I’m trying to connect with in person. There’s a wealth of knowledge to absorb by immersing yourself in the environment of your target audience.
It’s a process creating valuable content, some might even call it a craft. Call it what you will but at the end of the day you’re not going to catch the attention of anybody if you don’t come prepared. Never take your audience for granted. There’s very little time to be worried about what you have to offer but if you give them meaningful content, they might just stop and look for a second… or two, or three (if you’re lucky). Convey your message in a language they’ll understand, content should be a conversation, not a statement. By speaking to them in a relatable tone, they might just speak back. If you’re struggling to understand and connect with your audience, try paying them a visit. You learn more from being at the party, than you would watching from the window. And finally, don’t turn vacuums into octopuses. That was my idea and I swear I had it first.
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Campbell Brown is a Digital and Social Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. His enthusiasm lies in creating strong social content and building positive relationships with clients.