One challenge every blogger faces is increasing engagement with their readers. Some opt out of the issue altogether by closing comments on blog posts; others do all they can to get readers to tweet, “+1,” or Facebook “like” their content. But what about when your content is shared in a less tangible format – say, via the airwaves? How do you get your audience to engage, react, and connect with you and with each other?
My fellow panelists and I will be tackling this topic head-on in our BlogWorld session about building community around your podcast on June 7. But in case you want to get started now, here’s a short list of ways you can increase audience engagement NOW:
- Issue a clear call to action. Just as your blog post should have a clear call to action, so should your podcast. At the end of each episode, your listeners should know exactly what to do next: subscribe to your podcast, leave a comment, click through a link, etc. This means YOU need to know what you want them to do, and then make it crystal clear.
- Make it easy for them. Giving links to a podcast audience is much tougher than just creating a hotlink on your website. That’s why you have to make it as easy as possible for your listeners to track you down online, whether it’s to buy your latest book or to sign up for your email list. Remember, your listeners are likely NOT at their computer. They may be listening while driving, on the treadmill, or involved in some other task that keeps their hands busy. Use a tool like Pretty Links, a free WordPress plug-in, that lets you create memorable URLs. Much like a 1-800 number that spells out some memorable phrase, Pretty Links lets you create an easy-to-recall web address.You may also want to buy a memorable URL to use for referrals and resources (I use http://www.lainloves.com for all my referrals. Then I simply send people to “lainloves.com/bwe” for Blog World Expo, for instance. Easy for me to remember, and easy for my audience to remember, too.
- Be tweet-worthy. The best way to get your audience to talk about you is to be unique, interesting, unusual, or otherwise tweet-worthy. If you’re just issuing out the same old rehashed news or musings on your cat’s antics, don’t be surprised when no one rushes to “Like” you on Facebook. If you want people to talk about you, give them something to talk about.
- Return the favor. I have stopped reading more than one blog and ceased listening to more than one podcast because the producers seemed to want an audience of adoring fans who worshipped them from a distance, and they made no effort to interact with their audience. If someone retweets you on Twitter, thank them. If someone leaves a comment for you on your blog, answer. Visit their blog and leave a comment in return. If someone reaches out to you, reach back. Sure, as you grow you’ll have a tougher time answering every single message, but cross that bridge when you come to it. Right now, you probably don’t have an excuse.
- Share your passion. The more I share my strong, unvarnished opinions and talk about what matters to me, the more my audience responds. When I “get up on my soapbox,” I always worry I’ll alienate someone (and I probably do!), but playing it safe is no recipe for success. Find what you care about and talk about it. You’ll find that you resonate with some listeners and perhaps cause conflict with others, but at least you’re not blending. While I don’t advocate being intentionally provocative a la Howard Stern, there’s something to be said for stirring things up in an honest and considered way.
You can’t create a community overnight, but there are things you can do today to plant the seeds for greater engagement. Set aside just 15 minutes a day to try some of these techniques and, in a month, you’ll see a big difference. And if you want even more tips, come see us on Thursday afternoon at BlogWorld New York.
Got ideas or questions on this topic? Leave a comment. I promise I’ll answer. 🙂