Engaging means capturing someone’s attention – connecting – and having a conversation. This is not easy to do on the internet, particularly when there are millions of other things clamouring for attention at the same time.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you need to try harder.
The thing is, your customers want to talk to you. If they didn't, they would unsubscribe. Remember, that is OK too. From your experience on Facebook, you would probably rather have a civilized conversation than ta debate or argument.
Your readers want to know what you think, and most importantly, they want to believe that you care what they think.
It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 simple conversation starters to get your audience talking to you.
#1: Express an Opinion about Industry News
You want to build authority within your industry or niche? One of the best ways to do that AND start a conversation with your followers is to express an opinion – particularly if it might be new or controversial. Of course, you should only do this if you can back up your opinion.
Despite what I wrote earlier, some bloggers do want to be controversial but then you need to be prepared for the ‘haters”. It depends on your niche and what you are trying to achieve. If this is a business web site, I would tend to avoid the three taboos – sex, religion or politics.
A good way to get started with this tactic is to follow relevant publishers and influencers in your industry. When you see them post a piece of news that’s relevant to your followers, read the article (or watch the video) and figure out what you can add to the conversation. Then share it – and make sure to include a call to action that encourages your followers to chime in with their own opinions.
#2: Ask for Stories and Experiences
Everybody has a story to tell – and when you’re speaking to an audience who all have something in common with you, then it’s easy to think of a topic that may inspire people to share their stories.
The key here is to share your own story and then ask your followers to share their best stories with you. For example, say you own a travel agency. You might tell a story of a trip you booked for yourself before you were a travel agent and how it went wrong. Then, you could ask your followers for their travel horror stories.
The value of this type of sharing is that it provides you with an opportunity to respond, express sympathy or amazement, and build a bond with potential customers online. Sometimes it can also be a source of great additional content.
#3: Get Recommendations
People might love to tell stories, but do you know what else they like? Giving advice and making recommendations! And asking them for recommendations is a great way to get them talking.
What kind of recommendations should you ask for? Ideally, they should be relevant to your product or service. For example, I’m a marketing guy. I might ask:
- What are your favourite marketing podcasts?
- What publications do you follow on Facebook and Twitter?
- Which marketing technique is your favourite, and why?
- What marketing apps would you recommend?
You get the idea. The key is not to stray too far from your brand and product. Instead, keep a tight focus and encourage your followers to share their experiences and recommendations with you and each other.
#4: Promote Your Events and Your Community
Are you appearing at a local street fair or charity event? Sharing your involvement is a great way to remind people that you stand for something other than making money – and to underscore your involvement in your community and industry.
Even if you’re not appearing at an event, there’s a benefit in letting your followers know what’s going on in your community. Giving a nod to other businesses or to local charities can help you build trust and earn the admiration of your followers. You can encourage conversation by asking questions like these:
- Will you be attending the **** celebration?
- What was the last community event you attended?
Another option is to include an open call to action at the end, something like “We hope you’ll stop by and check out our booth! There’s a free gift in it for you!”
#5: Ask about Do-It-Yourself Projects
Whatever industry or niche you’re in, the chances are good that your followers have some DIY experiences that are relevant. Asking about them is a great way to learn about potential customers and build a warm rapport with them by responding to what they share.
Ideally, a DIY project should be something that uses (or could use) your products. However, it doesn’t have to be. The key is to find a way to make what you post relevant to your brand – and then stand back and let your followers do the rest.
#6: Ask Open Questions
Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your followers talking. It’s especially helpful to you if you can get them talking in a way that helps you to learn more about them – because that’s information you can use to create future content.
For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, you could ask questions like:
- What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner?
- What problem do you wish someone would solve for you?
- What product or service has helped you the most?
The answers to these questions can help you write blog posts, create a social media strategy, or even develop new products that are ideal for your target audience.
#7: Ask for Testimonials
You already know that reviews and testimonials are hugely important in the world of marketing. What better way to get some new testimonials to share on your site than to ask your customers to provide them on social media?
Not only will asking for opinions help you get some positive testimonials, this may also help you discover potential issues and nip them in the bud before they become big problems. You should be prepared for some surprises – but if you approach the request with the right mindset, this technique can help you learn a lot about your customers.
Look who’s talking…
The bottom line is that your audience wants to talk to you. They don’t read your blog or follow you on social media because they’re looking for a lecture. The key is to give them the encouragement they need to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with you – and then, to stand back and listen to what they say.