Who doesn’t want to be more popular? Whether it’s a singer, a book author, or a clothing line owner, people in careers and business want a following that grows. It’s no different with content writers, especially those connected to a business brand. Growing an audience is always the goal.
A larger audience means more leads, more customers, and more revenue. But sometimes getting that audience is tough. You create valuable content; you think you are entertaining, and sometimes you can be mightily inspirational. But somehow, the audience is just not growing. You could be making a few mistakes that are easy and inexpensive to fix. Here are 11 things to think about.
You Have Impatient People
Think about your own search habits. You are usually in a hurry; you want the right information quickly; you scan titles. And when you do pick one to access, you want to see what you are looking for immediately. If not, you bounce. Your content has to be so amazing and so “right on target” that those visitors don’t want to bounce.
The average attention span of an Internet user is 8 – 12 seconds. If you haven’t grabbed their attention by then, you can forget it.
Start “Teasing” Your Content on Social Media
You’ve written what you think is a great blog post. You know that it will solve problems for readers and show the value of your product or service. How to get them there?
Develop some questions/problems that your post answers. Post those on Twitter and Facebook with a link to your content. As your social media audience to help you out by reading the blog post and offering their opinions.
Running a survey as a blog post is a great way to get user involvement. People like to express their opinions. Drive your audience to that survey from your social media posts. Offer something to them if they will participate in the survey.
Stop Being So Academic
There’s a huge difference between the writing that you did for your teachers and professors. They wanted scholarly pieces, with strong verbiage, respected research, and walls of text. Students often used academic writing services like bestwritingadvisor.com to assist them. Many of these services have expanded and offered help to copy and content writers with great teams of journalists who know how to write for non-scholarly audiences. They can give you some help.
Lose the big vocabulary and the long, complex sentences. No one reads or stays with content like this. Get to the point; use simple sentences, and keep paragraphs short.
You have to learn an entirely different way of writing. The best advice? Write as if you were talking to your best friend.
The Title/Headline is Critical
Upworthy, which has a huge following on social media, has a department entirely devoted to coming up with titles and headlines. They admit they spend as much time on titles as they do on the content they write. Why? Because titles are the one thing that can grab attention and compel readers/searchers/visitor to access the content.
This article has nothing to do with sex, but just putting the word “Sexy” in it will draw some attention. “Painless” is another trigger – doesn’t everyone want to avoid pain?
Whether it’s a title for a blog post or a subject line for an email, make it intriguing; make it engaging, and make it compelling. If you have difficulty with creative titles, use some of the headline generator tools that will give you lots of ideas. You can input keywords for your content and get gobs of ideas.
“How To’s,” and Numbered Lists Will Always Attract
People want quick information. They also want solutions. If you can provide these through your content, you can attract a target audience. Consider this:
A target audience may be one that is looking for simple, easy recipes for dinner. You might have content that is titled, “12 30-minute meals for a busy household,” or “How to have a nutritious meal on the table in 30 minutes.” Busy working parents will be attracted by such a title, and your content will definitely solve a problem.
Visuals and Videos
It can no longer be denied. Visual content is what busy mobile users on the go want. Their screens are small and they don’t want to read a lot of text. They will, however, watch a video or look at photos. Since mobile has overtaken desktops and laptops for searches, you need to turn your content into visual mode as much and as often as possible.
You can create professional looking videos with the apps on your smartphone these days. Explainer videos that present the value of your product or service can be engaging; how-to videos that show your customer using your product or service are even better. Solicit visual content from your happy customers and give them incentives to do this.
Provide Incentives for Customers to Share
The best way to grow an audience is to have satisfied customers share your content with their tribes. Foundr magazine is a master at this. It grew its Instagram following to over 10,00 in just a few months following its launch. One of the critical keys to growing this audience was to offer incentives to its current followers to share its content – free issues, upgraded content, discounted subscription costs, specials, etc.
Contests and Surveys – Getting Your Audience Involved
ModCloth, a millennial women’s clothier, runs frequent contests to name a clothing item it is carrying. This generates lots of “play,” because the winner of the naming contest gets the item free. These contests create a lot of “buzz,” as current customers share them with their communities.
The goal is to generate more brand recognition through your content and to get your brand in the “heads” of those who have not known about your before. When they are ready to explore a purchase, your name will be in their minds.
Surveys can also increase readership. Craft a survey, send it out to your email list, and, in that email, make it easy for recipients to share it on social media. Offer an incentive if it is shared.
Fix Your Structure
Write for mobile consumers. Remember, they have small screens and they are on the move. Use visuals when you can, but all of your text must be broken up.
Use bold for your sub-headings – this will allow readers to scan and “snack” on the pieces of your content that are most meaningful to them. And think in terms of catchy titles for those sub-heads.
Use bulleted or numbered lists – again, these are scannable
Shorten your paragraphs – 3-4 sentences is the tops
Stick to One Chunk of Information/Story at a Time
You may have a lot to say on a topic. When you become an “expert” of sorts, this is natural. But your audience only wants to absorb one chunk at a time.
If your topic is complex, write several shorter posts rather than one long one. Make it into a series, and advertise it as such. Entice and “tease” your reader with the next post to come and give a date when it will come.
Get a Cause
Readers/followers love to believe that you are socially responsible. Support a cause. Show how your brand is supporting that cause. Feature that cause and your participation in it.
Jennifer Ekstrom, founder of Headbands for Hope has a cause – children’s cancer and research. She features an amazing amount of content about that cause. And she pulls at the “heartstrings” of her readers and followers by featuring cancer patients who have beautiful headbands, which customers have “donated” through their purchase of one for themselves.
Ask your current followers and customer to spread your cause by sharing your content – they will do it because they want to feel good about doing good too.
How Are You Doing?
Which of these strategies are you using? And which areas are working best for you? Are there tactics you are using that aren’t mentioned here? If you have not tried some of these, do it now. They are low cost (just your time and effort) and may open up audiences that you never knew were out there.