Providing Content to Create Interaction with Your Online Audience
April 30, 2012 1 Comment
Interaction with your online audience is very important. Whether your online presence is strictly catered to business and your online audience is your customer/client base, or you’re a blogger trying to maintain a readership. There are a couple of important things to keep in mind about interacting with your online audience. The most important being to provide them with content. If you don’t engage your online audience, then they will go away.
Blogging: Most websites have a “blog” segment as part of the website. This site that you’re currently on, for example, is intended to let the blog carry the majority of the weight of the website. That means its primary purpose is as a content providing blog for Alloy Productions. These blog posts can range from posts like these (advisory posts that provide useful information or tools to other business entities) to the basic happenings from within the company (new customers/clients.) The point of a blog is to have a place to put down large portions of information (text, audio or video) so your online audience can consume it. Walmart’s primary website function is different from Alloy Productions, so Walmart doesn’t need to blog to provide content. People will continue pouring into their website to purchase goods. Actually, Walmart.com does actually have a blog section consisting of 5 separate RSS feeds. However, the root word of business is busy, so you may not have time to sit down and blog everyday. That’s OK! This blog is only updated once a week, (unless it’s necessary to update it more often to announce new clients or other news) and that seems to be adequate for our online audience, at this point. Should the audience grow and demand more, then adjustments will be made. You are the keeper of your own audience, so you make the ultimate decision of how often you want to update your website/blog. Blogging is not the only form of audience engagement that exists, however.
Social Networking: Believe it or not, the use of social networks, in a business setting, is not to get “Likes” and “Followers,” but to provide another vector for you to engage your online audience. As I stated before, you don’t have to blog everyday to interact with your audience, there are people out there that do that for a living. You can use those already existing articles from sites/blogs that you regularly visit yourself. Your audience will be thankful to you for providing them with the extra information, and the site/blog you’re referencing will be thankful for the referral. As you may have guessed, I am quite a tech nerd, so I regularly read sites like Mashable, Tech Crunch and Gizmodo to stay up-to-date with tech news. I regularly find useful articles on those sites and can share the links on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter so the Alloy Productions audience can get useful information without me having to sit down and write an article everyday. I can also share links from my current client base, making their online presence more meaningful and giving it a wider reach.
The Breakdown: My suggestion to business owners that are unsure how to manage and engage their online audience is pretty simple. It only takes about two hours a week and can really make your businesses blog and social sites a place where your audience can gain new information about things related to your business. They will really appreciate the small extra steps you’re taking for them and that will only lead to a larger, more engaged and more active online audience.
I would suggest the following:
- Weekly blog posts: This is how you can provide news to your online audience about goings on within the business. This provides a level of transparency between your business and your audience and shows that you/your business can be trusted because you are up front about your business dealings. I will use Alloy Productions as an example. This business focuses on helping bands, brands, bloggers and businesses create and manage their own online presence. So the majority of posts to this blog will be either of this nature (the blog post you are currently reading) or announcements about clients that we have helped with their online needs. This gives our clients an already established online community a chance to be looked over and possibly gain a chunk of our audience. Therefore, we post things as they happen to provide our clients that potential exposure and to our audience and to inform our audience of a business (beautician, blogger, restaurant, etc.) that they possibly would not have noticed. With that being the case, blog updates are based on this company’s ability to thrive in this marketplace.
- Daily Social Networking: Think about it, everyday you probably consumed at least one piece of content (article, podcast, YouTube video) that you’ve gleaned while browsing Facebook, checking Twitter or reading the news in whichever way you do. Assuming that piece of content is in some way related to the business you run, you can share that to your online audience, thus engaging them in a way that took you no more than a minute to hit the “Share” button. In fact, there are plenty of social networking dashboards (Hootsuite, Seesmic, Tweetdeck, etc.) that will allow you to share to multiple social networks with only a single post from your desktop and/or mobile device. I plan to post more about these social network dashboards in the future, so stay tuned.
In Conclusion: Having a strong online audience can be an amazing tool! Engaging and interacting with that audience is important, not just so they don’t feel ignored, but also because it can drive new business. I happen to know a hair stylist that posts her schedule openings and last-minute cancellations to Facebook and Twitter so her customers can try to slide into those spots or refer other friends that are looking for such a service. Ignoring the potential of your online audience does not just do your customers a disservice, but it also does your business a disservice by alienating those that you could be utilizing.
Feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment if you would like some more personalized advice about engaging your online community.