How To Deliver Marketing Content That Sparks Engagement

By now, social media has probably made itself a space in your content marketing strategy.

As one of the most obvious content channels for most small business owners, you realize it’s somewhere your business needs to be.

You’ve also probably noticed that when more people engage with your content, more people see it.

When more people see it, more people become your customers.

And the point of marketing is to get more customers.

But how do you make engaging content?

That’s the biggest issue with social media for most small business owners and marketers alike.

That’s why I put together a few ideas to help you boost your engagement.

Engaging Marketing Content Doesn’t Come Easy

Something to remember when creating marketing content with the intent to encourage engagement.

It’s not all going to work.

Great content requires a little bit of trial and error.

You’ve got to risk investing time and energy into things that may not offer any return.

Well, except for the data they collect.

In the beginning, however, that data is incredibly valuable and shouldn’t be overlooked.

That data is where you’ll learn the major changes you need to make to refine your strategy.

While you’ll keep using it over time to make small refinements, you’ll get the most impact from early failures.

So, when you start out, focus on refining your micro content and get ready to fail.

As long as you learn from them, your failures will be short-term and lead to bigger successes.

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Plan An Interactive Engagement Campaign

Any time you plan a marketing strategy, you ought to consider how and why your audience is going to engage.

However, some strategies focus solely on the engagement you’ll get.

We call those interactive campaigns, and they’re great for influencing your audience’s desire to join in the conversation.

Interactive campaigns are designed to make engaging with your company fun.

By tapping into the competitive nature of social media, you can get your audience to connect actively.

That means they’ll be commenting on your posts, tagging your company on theirs, and sharing their stories about your product.

All of it will be in the context of your campaign, which boosts your message.

A great example is Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign.

Everyone, especially people with less-common names, remembers the joy of finding the perfect Coke can or bottle to share on social media.

Maybe it was the first time you’d seen your name on something in the store.

Or it might have been just the right message for your significant other.

No matter the case, you – like millions of other people – probably shared your can on social media.

That campaign brought the bottling giant back from the brink of disaster.

Another great example is in Wendy’s savage Twitter account.

By giving the team that runs it free reign to have a little attitude, they’ve created a platform that gets constant engagement.

People all over the world, even in places where there is no Wendy’s, tag the account with comments that simply beg to be roasted.

Wendy’s never disappoints, either.

And, since 2015, they have grown their following by nearly a million people and have seen tons of coverage from all over the web.

They are possibly the most famous Twitter account around at this point, regardless of which accounts have more followers.

You can encourage a similar participation from your audience.

You might not be able to make a customized product, like Coke, and you might not be as savage as Wendy’s, but that doesn’t have to stop you.

You just need a reason for people to interact.

For that, you’re going to have to understand your audience first.

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Get to know what really matters to your audience.

Especially as it relates to your industry.

The things you do with your content should always dovetail with the industry you represent.

That’s a critical component to the lead development your content should be doing.

In what ways can your industry connect with your audience in a meaningful way?

  • Will you entertain your audience in a new and unique way?
  • Can you deliver your audience a personalized experience?
  • Are there holidays or hashtags that you can tap into?
  • Can you create a live video that your audience can interact with?
  • Is there a choice that your audience can vote on?
  • What kind of content might your audience be able to contribute?

So let’s dig into these ideas.

Entertain Your Audience

Obviously, if you can get people to laugh or smile, you can get their attention.

That’s what Wendy’s is doing with their Twitter account.

In a similar way, you can entertain your audience through their interaction.

No, that doesn’t mean you have to be clever enough to roast them with the fire of 1,000 suns on social media.

It just means you need a great way to give them a little laugh.

Remember that the biggest draw to Wendy’s Twitter page is the curiosity over how bad the roast will be.

Create the same sort of intrigue over your social media.

Get your audience to wonder what kind of response they’ll get.

Making a switch to this kind of interactive strategy can’t be instant.

Your audience is going to have to see that you are responding differently before they’ll start to look for your responses.

How fast that happens will depend on how they react to your first couple of responses.

If they’re as funny as Wendy’s “clap backs”, they’ll get shared, retweeted, and reposted quickly.

Should you choose a different direction for your responses (or if you’re simply not as witty), they’ll probably see fewer shares and gain notoriety more slowly.

That’s ok too.

The most important thing is that you stick with your brand’s personality.

Don’t try to imitate someone else or step too far from the image your brand represents.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • What will your audience expect of you?
  • Can you break their expectations within brand?
  • Is humor a strong point for you and your social team?
  • What other ways can you bring an unexpected laugh to your audience?

If you can determine how to bring a smile to your audience in a way that keeps them anticipating your response, you’ll get the engagement you’re looking for.

Deliver A More Personal Experience

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign was an obvious winner before they started the campaign.

They knew that in the conference room as they prepared the idea.

After all, everyone loves the sound of their own name.

“A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie Click To Tweet

They took that experience as far and wide as they could, all the while sharing the experiences on social media.

The real key to their engagement was getting their customers to create content within the campaign.

Coke encouraged people to share pictures of their personalized Coke cans on social.

It became a contest to see who could share something more meaningful, funny, or absurd.

The campaign was even used to crack jokes.

All the while, Coke saw sales grow for the first time in years.

They are by far not the only company to find success in a personalization campaign.

Personalization is a great way to tap into someone’s emotional responses.

If you do it right, you’ll get them to not only engage with your brand but also share the content you create.

The key is that you give them a reason to care about your message.

Look at how Spotify said goodbye to 2016.

They personalized their message across billboards, social, and their site based on their users’ play history.

They tried to find connections between what was happening on milestone days and weird play behavior.

That Valentine’s Day one made me laugh loud enough to get funny looks.

What worked well about that is it was personalized with real data, anonymized, and placed in the public sphere.

Then people around the globe saw the ads and shared them on social media, tagging Spotify.

Like the Coke campaign, they took the real world and made it into a vehicle for social engagement.

But how can you tap into the same ideas for your business?

Here are some ways you can personalize your marketing:

  • Get pictures with your regulars and share them on social media.
  • Customize your emails based on your lists’ site history.
  • Create a personalization opportunity with your product and encourage your audience to share it.
  • Ask your audience to share the ways they use your product on social media and tag your page.

The draw to a personalization campaign is the connection between your brand and your customers.

Any way you can showcase that is a great way to make it work.

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Tap Into A Trending Idea

Sometimes the best way to get engagement is to connect with something that holds value to a specific community.

Different obscure holidays or hashtags are always ripe for conversation.

For example, Indiegogo did both with their campaign for International Women’s Day, taking advantage of the hashtag #GirlBoss to highlight female entrepreneurs and makers that use their platform.

This struck a meaningful chord with their driven audience.

Especially in a world where the wage gap and discrimination are getting a much-needed spotlight.

Other, less poignant examples include IHOP’s continued attention to International Pancake Day.

They encourage visits with free pancakes, enticing customers into their restaurants in droves that make it impossible to get a spot.

The visits inevitably result in drink purchases.

The loss-leader also banks on recouping losses through the orders that come in from people who want something other than a short stack (side of bacon, anyone?).

KFC decided that #NationalFriedChickenDay would be a hashtag for them (because that’s a no-brainer).

They introduced H.A.R.L.A.N.D. to their audience on Twitter, much to the horror of many.

The engagement was phenomenal, though, because KFC realized just how creepy their AI bot was.

Fans tapped into the creep-factor and commented back with all sorts of GIFs and memes.

These opportunities are plenty on social, with trending hashtags that relate to your brand happening all the time.

I caution though, don’t get involved in breaking news hashtags.

It’s way too easy to make a misstep.

Like the insensitive way so many brands handled Carrie Fisher’s death.

Just because there’s a chance to catch a wave doesn’t mean you need to get your surfboard.

In general, I recommend you stick with the lesser-known holidays that relate to your industry.

They’re going to be a safer place to drop an on-brand message and get your audience to engage.

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Get Your Audience Involved In A Live Video

I seriously don’t like sharing anything from Wix.

I don’t like the job they do with websites and prefer not to send traffic their way.

However, this marketing tactic was brilliant, and I’d be doing you a disservice by keeping it to myself.

Wix took advantage of the biggest football event in the US and combined it with Facebook Live for a giveaway.

What they came up with was a way to get the audience involved in their $10k giveaway.

It’s over 90 minutes, but you can skip through it to get the idea.

Wix had their audience help them defrost a football.

They created engagement in their live video that was boosted by the curiosity of knowing who the winner was.

It was genius.

They’re not the only ones to do live video interactively.

Have you seen the “Pearl Parties” on Facebook lately?

Sure, they’re for the less-favorable network marketing companies, but they still get a ton of attention.

Unboxings are also popular.

Brands everywhere connect with influencers to have their products unboxed on live video and YouTube.

Especially popular with technology, makeup, and toys, unboxing videos are a great way to get your brand some attention and feedback.

These kinds of live videos tap into the power of UGC for their engagement.

They also take advantage of the power of user opinion, which is great to connect with the Millennial audience.

If you’re going to get your audience interacting with live video, consider the following:

  • What about your industry excites your audience?
  • Can you tap into a pop-culture idea?
  • Are you going to give something away?
  • What kind of creative element can you incorporate?
  • How will your audience interact?

By mastering the use of live video to get your viewers engaged, you get the advantage of real-time feedback, expanded future reach, and the unique opportunity to see your company in action.

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Put A Decision Up For A Vote

Letting customers vote on your next product could seem a little scary, right?

In a lot of cases, that might be a terrible idea.

What about letting them vote on a major company decision?

Even scarier.

However, we’ve been seeing that for years from the Frito-Lay company.

They have their fans on social media vote on the next chip flavor.

That’s how we’ve gotten some of these crazy-flavored Lay’s gems in the junk food aisle.

  • Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger
  • Southern Biscuits & Gravy
  • Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs
  • Crispy Taco

By the way, those are just the winners. You should see what they put up to vote.

Like the one they’ve got going on right now.

Ew.

Food brands seem to love this tactic as of late.

It’s a little disturbing.

However, it’s not the only place it’s done.

Lots of brands love to include their audiences in the decision process.

Most of the time, the vote has already been narrowed down to choices that can’t make a bad impact.

They’ve already been tested and approved before they get shown to the audience.

The social engagement is insane.

Fans everywhere want to be a part of the next big thing.

Bragging rights for when their “candidate” wins are way too big a draw.

Plus, they’ll get to buy the product they chose.

It doesn’t have to be a product vote, though.

Some companies have their fans vote on all kinds of things.

Here are some ideas you might want to tap into:

  • What should our founder’s next haircut be (potentially insanely funny)?
  • How much should we offer for our next discount?
  • Which product would you like us to bring back?
  • Where should this year’s charity fundraiser support?
  • Name our new office pet.

There are so many ways to combine a customer vote with a look into the company culture.

All you need is a little creativity and a lot of courage.

If you’re smart, you can even tie in your vote with a contest.

Think about it: offer up a choice of two prizes, then let the audience vote what you’ll give away.

That makes a great lead into a social contest campaign.

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Engaging Marketing Content Can Be Designed

If you take the time to know your audience, you’ll be on a foundation to get them engaged.

That engagement will inevitably lead to more attention, which is the ultimate goal of any marketing content.

Like I tell my clients, you can’t sell to a crowd that isn’t looking.

Because engagement gives you a way to reach more of your audience as well as exposure to their friend and family circles, it’s the best thing you can ask for on social media.

Remember, attention doesn’t come easy.

Getting it, however, is worth it.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.