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Traction suck? Here are 6 things you can do to have more people engage with your online posts
I've written and shared online articles for over fifteen years.
I know what it's like to feel that nervous tension after hitting 'publish,' only to get two measly likes (one from my best friend).
But if we want to grow an audience, have our posts be shared, develop trust in a growing list of subscribers and get paid good money for our knowledge, we need to know how to predictably encourage engagement in our content.
I'm not talking about just collecting vanity numbers, so you feel good.
This is about encouraging connection, resonance and interest in your ideal reader.
You want them to be engaged, so they take action, whether to sign up for your newsletter, book a call with you or whatever.
The Internet is a continually-evolving beast with no hard and fast rules. Creating content and growing an audience will always have an experimentation element.
But there are things you can do that will help.
Here are seven ideas:
1. Show your flaws.
Many of us create content to try to look good and sound clever.
That's nice, but if you're coming across too perfect, it can diminish your authenticity in the eyes of the reader.
Being on point with your ideas is essential for, say, a how-to guide.
But even then, showing perhaps how you overcame struggle before you found your solutions can boost how your post is ultimately received.
When we can reveal some flaws, this can open people up to you and prompt interest, not because they see themselves as superior to you - but because they see themselves in you.
2. Hook them faster.
Attention is the currency of the modern age.
It is becoming more challenging, no doubt, to grab attention. Why? Because there are so many things competing for yours.
Because of this, you need to be intentional about how you craft your posts if you don't want to lose someone's attention. This is why the title of your post needs to grab people. It needs to pique their curiosity.
It must spark an emotional reaction.
The same applies to the post itself, especially the opening few seconds. For writing, if you dawdle and talk about vague concepts, they will be gone. Get right into the action - straight to the point.
How can you expect someone to get to the end of your post if they aren't coming through the door in the first place?
That's how to win in this attention culture.
3. Do the best it can be done.
I frequently encourage people to publish their creations, even if they don't yet feel ready. That's good.
This keeps you moving and out of fear. But this doesn't mean you can't strive towards creating the best version of what you're trying to create.
If you're writing a how-to guide on making ceramic toy cars, you want to aim to make it the best.
This is how content picks up speed fast.
This is why creating highly niched content that gets to the heart of highly focused ideas is key.
If you're too broad, you dilute your share's value.
4. Infuse more personality.
Personality in an AI age is becoming increasingly more significant. People follow people, not robots.
People can spark an emotional reaction in the reader through personality.
What do I mean by personality?
Show us what you stand for. Say what others aren't willing to say. Infuse some humour and playfulness. Use colourful words. Use assertive language.
Show us your 'weird.'
What's something you love to do that most others do not? Show us this.
This creates a memorable and often likeable picture of you with which people will gel.
5. Create strategic partnerships.
A lot of the growth you see with people with large online followings results from two primary things.
They combine sharing consistent, valuable content with opening up their content to other people's audiences.
You get juice when you put fresh eyeballs on your posts from a new audience of, say, 50,000 people.
You need to get creative about how you access other creators' audiences.
You can pay for newsletter recommendations on Substack, RTs on Twitter, or comments on LinkedIn (like you would buy ads).
You can get interviewed on other people's podcasts. You can guest post on someone else's newsletter.
You can also offer to swap access to your audience for someone else's.
To do all this, you want to gradually build up a Rolodex of connections through relationship-building.
6. Engage yourself.
Whether you're creating content for Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Medium, it will help you become known in the circles relevant to your area of focus.
Make a list of 10-15 larger accounts that attract the kinds of people you want to connect with.
Comment on their posts every day and engage with their followers. Share lots of value and unique insight (and personality). It feels like hard work, but your community grows one person at a time.
You are making friends, not acquaintances.
It's social media for a reason. Become known, and these people will flow back to support your own content.
Let's go get this bread and have fun while we do it.
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