To Engage Your Audience, Drop The Filter
It’s been said time and again – the good thing about the Internet is that everyone has a voice. But the bad thing about the Internet is that everyone has a voice.
We’ve entered a lightning-fast new era where direct, unfiltered communication rules. Period.
The everyday person blogs, comments on countless social media platforms, and writes painfully honest reviews. Their opinions are powerful because they can be shared far and wide. Businesses and organizations must constantly engage with their audiences if they want to stay in their good graces.
Pretty stressful, right?
But here’s the thing: you, as a company leader, are free to communicate with your audience in the exact same fashion. Consider the way our new President uses Twitter to directly access the public and circumvent traditional news and marketing filters.
It works. People don’t want scripted ads. They want to hear strong, authentic voices. Including yours.
That’s why every organizational leader can, and should, wield the power of an unfiltered, direct narrative. Doing so establishes you as a thought leader, creates meaningful conversations with your audience and marketplace, and boosts your web traffic and brand.
Here’s what you need to know.
The First Rule Is There Are No Rules
We thought we’d figured out all the “rules” of social media. But in reality, there are none.
The “rules” we’ve all been following are really nothing more than simply what’s been done so far, whether it feels right or not. (Accept your ex’s friend request on Facebook? Wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings. Respond to your crazy uncle’s tweets he mentions you in? Um, I guess…).
We’re creatures of habit, mimicking what we see and hear. We often resist the urge to push outside of our comfort zones; to reframe the way we think and communicate.
The internet is the most powerful communications tool since the invention of language itself. As an organizational leader, you need to constantly rethink how to harness that power, especially when engaging with your clients, members, or students. They’re looking for people who will push the envelope.
We live in provocative, uncertain times – ask provocative questions that address uncertain answers. Use your social media platforms to stir the pot.
Dig deep. Think about topics you know are relevant to your audience, but others in your industry might shy away from. This is one of the quickest ways to establish you as a thought leader. It gets your clients, members, and students critically thinking about what you do and the specific role you play in the bigger picture.
Throw Out Junk Content
Nothing destroys reader engagement faster than vanilla content. Fluff, trite “listicles,” and jargon-y articles only succeed in doing one thing – getting people to close their browsers.
Content is king. Want to be seen as an authority in your field? You need to have a full arsenal of well-written, highly researched, captivating content that people actually want to read. What’s more, Google will only give you search traffic if you have it.
You need strong, varied content to back up those provocative questions you’re asking your audience to consider on social media. So if you don’t already have someone in-house who can write killer content, invest in outsourcing your content needs to someone who can. Now.
Never Get Comfortable
We’ve all been there and know it’s true – the minute we get comfortable, the rug’s yanked out from underneath us. That’s life.
Social media, and technology in general, follows the same principle. Just as soon as we think we’ve figured out those sweet-spot algorithms for Twitter and Facebook, augmented and virtual reality will replace our tried-and-true methodologies.
You need to be the disruption in the system, not be its casualty. This can only happen if your marketing strategy is rooted in connecting to your audience via strong thought leadership.
Gimmicks, trends, and finding ways to “play the system” in any communications platform will come and go. But direct, unfiltered communication with your audience is what will give your organization staying power and ensure you’ll stay at the front of the next communications revolution – whatever it may be.