Only one percent of brand-related content gets shared on social media. Engaging content—whether branded or not—gets more shares, reaches more prospective customers and leads to increased revenue. In short, engaged readers are more likely to become paying customers.
Here are five proven methods to create more engaging content that provides real value for your audience:
1. Understand the Demand for Your Topic
How do you know that your audience wants to read about your topic?
You can’t rely on gut instinct for this. You have to do real research. Make sure that there is a demand for a topic before you start writing. You have no chance to engage with anyone if they aren’t interested in your topic in the first place.
My tool of choice for researching reader demand for a topic is BuzzSumo, which displays the most active content on social media for any given topic. If your topic has very little social activity, you can deduce that it isn’t a high demand topic.
2. Write in Second Person
To engage with your audience, you need to be personal. A second person voice talks directly to the audience and uses words like “you” and “your.” When you communicate through a second person voice it creates a conversation and connects with them.
Second person is much more engaging than the self-centered first person (“I did this and I did that”) and the uninvolved third person (“Companies succeed when they use content marketing”). Slipping into first or third person is sometimes necessary, but it should be avoided as much as possible.
3. Use Power Words
So many words are completely overused. All too often, things that are truly remarkable get labeled as “great,” the “best” and “awesome.” You need to use words that have powerful emotional triggers; these are the words that will engage your readers. Articles that use words with high emotional value are shared more across social media—an indicator that they are actually engaging the readers.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to figure out what these power words are; the research has already been done for you.
Start with CoSchedule’s list of 180 power words. I love this list so much that I had it printed out on a poster to hang above my desk. Use power words in titles, meta descriptions and subheadings. Sprinkle a few high impact words in your article writing, too.
As a bonus, the CoSchedule article led me to my favorite tool for creating high impact titles: the Headline Analyzer from the American Marketing Institute. This is a great tool to help you determine if your title will connect emotionally with your readers.
Once you’re used to using power words, graduate to the 1,072 words that readers can’t resist from sharethrough. This very thorough list of words will help you take your writing up another notch.
4. Empathize With Your Reader
Understand your readers’ pains and problems. Give them clear solutions that will sincerely help them. Try to read your writing from their perspective.
You need to know your audience. What does your typical reader do for a living? How old are they? Where do they live? What are their goals? Determine their gender, salary and background. Really get in their head so that you can sincerely empathize with them.
5. Write in Small Chunks
Readers don’t read every word; they scan. Hence, for your writing to engage with them, it must be scannable. The easiest way to make it scannable is to write in small chunks.
Forget what your English teacher taught you about paragraph structure—save that for the full-length book you’re writing. When you write online content, limit your paragraphs to three or four sentences. And don’t be afraid to write even shorter words and sentences than that. Brief, standalone words and phrases can have a huge impact in online content.
The volume and velocity at which marketing content is being created in today’s digital landscape is staggering. So much so, that even truly extraordinary content has no guarantee of being found amongst all the noise. Give your content the best chance at successful promotion and distribution by writing on topics that your audience truly cares about, and by discussing them with the right tone and format.