3 Steps to Train Your Audience to Engage with Your Content
You know, sometimes I think being a teacher and a creative business owner are not that different.
#1 Complaint of teachers I used to train: I just need more student engagement.
#1 Complaint of creative business owners on the internet: OMG! I just need more audience engagement.
Said everyone ever, right?
As a teacher (and a rebel teacher, at that), I view "engagement" differently than most.
Newsflash: Engagement is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.
Engagement is a fringe benefit of training your audience (or your classroom) to trust that when you ASK something of them, they'll BENEFIT, they'll excel, they'll soar.
But, there's the kicker I’ve noticed most are missing:
YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY ASK.
Once you start asking the small things and training your people to answer (or "engage"), only THEN can you expect them to engage with your BIG ASKS.
(Read: Like when you say, “Can I take your money, plz?”)
Today’s blog post is all about the three steps you need on repeat, to truly train your audience to engage with your content.
3 Steps to Train Your Audience to Engage
Step One: Ask.
Now, don’t roll your eyes at me over there. I want you to scroll on back to your last three Instagram posts. Did you ask people to comment? To tag a friend? To send you a DM?
I did an experiment on Instagram a little while back. I wanted to consistently engage on some hashtags where I thought my dream clients would be hangin’ out. After struggling to come up with meaningful comments, I thought, “You know what, I’m going to keep scrolling until someone asks me to comment.”
I scrolled, and I scrolled. Turns out, VERY few people are asking you to do what they want you to, and even fewer are telling you how to do it.
Action Step: Decide what you want people to do with a piece of content. Then, ask them to do it, and be specific as to how.
Example: “Let me know your fave fall drink in the comments, so I can try it, too!”
Tip: Start small. Don’t start out asking BIG. It’s absolutely necessary to train with the small stuff, gain trust, and then move on to bigger things.
Step Two: Tell them why.
In case you were wondering, that whole “because I said so” really does not work with high school seniors. At least, not at first.
Even though adults might be a little nicer about it, ultimately everyone wants to know:
How will this benefit me? Where will it get me?
It’s your job as a content creator to know why your content matters.
Action Step: Add a “why” to your ask. How?
Complete this frame: (Do this) so that (benefit or subsequent result).
Example 1: “Let me know your fave fall drink in the comments, so I can try it too!”
Analysis: You might be wondering how it’s a benefit for my audience that I’m going to try their fall drink. Here’s the thing: You can start small with benefits, too. In this case? The benefit is connection. No one wants to share their favorite drink to a void of no response! If I plan to try the drink, I’ll get back to them when I do, and we’ll have a better connection.
Example 2: “Check out my latest blog post, so you can write content FASTER.”
Analysis: This one is much more clear, right? BUT, it’s a bigger ask - so it needs to be a clear benefit. Big asks are not only when money is involved. Anything that asks your audience to go out of their way to engage with you takes more effort and requires more trust.
Tip: Add a “so that” to anything you’re planning to ask of your audience. As an exercise, do it for each of your paid offers - try writing at least 5. See how specific and “in their heads” you can get.
Step Three: Show up when they do.
This is probably the simplest, most doable, but most easily overlooked step.
Are you showing up when someone does what you ask of them?
Are you commenting back?
Are you responding when they reply to your email newsletter, just like you asked them to?
Are you meeting them inside your paid evergreen offer to say “thanks” and that you can’t wait to see their progress?
Are you engaging in conversation when someone sends you a direct message?
I believe in boundaries, so I’m a firm believer in being efficient.
Here are some things you can try to save time:
If you want to respond thoroughly to an email subscriber, send them a Loom video.
Try using voice messages or videos in DMs to save time and add a personal touch.
Block out 15 minutes after you post on Instagram so you can intentionally engage with anyone who comments. Then block out 5-10 minutes that evening to do the same thing.
If you don’t meet your people when they take action, their brains will register - “this is not safe” or “there’s no connection here.” You don’t want that. Next time you ask ‘em to do something? Their brain will communicate the same thing.
Instead, we want all of our actions to communicate, this is a safe space, you are welcome and wanted here, there’s connection to be found.
Then, when it’s time to ask something big, they’ll trust the benefits we promise, ‘cause we back ‘em up with presence and action.
It’s worth saying: I don’t advocate for connecting only for the sake of getting a big ask later. I think connection should be what we truly aim for most days - both for the sake of our audience, but also for the sake of our own sanity.
Establishing trust isn’t a means to an end, but it is a foundational component in building a business and crafting a marketing plan that converts.
Zig Ziglar said:
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
“Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink coffee.”
Life mottos. Wisdom for your Wednesday.
So, how do you build trust with your audience? How do you plan to earn engagement?