What does it really mean to engage someone online nowadays?
With the ever-escalating noise and assault of information in this digital world, does anyone pay attention anymore?
What will it take to grab that attention? Do you speak to your audience’s burning desires and motivations? Engagement is really a matter of knowing these expectations; then matching, and finally, exceeding them.
It’s important as freelancers to know who your client’s target audience is because without this vital information you are like a hunter, firing blind shots in the dark, but with your words.
It’s important as freelancer writers to know who your client’s target audience
As Roy H. Williams (founder of Wizard Academy) puts it, “the first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” Without knowing, there is no connection: without connection, there is no engagement.
So how do we go from the ‘knowing’ to ‘delighting’ your clients’ audience or readers?
1. Draw Your Readers Out By asking Questions
Questioning is the first part of this equation.
It’s why businesses and companies do market surveys and questionnaires; why experienced speakers begin speeches with questions to their audience. Questions tease a person’s motivations and desires to the surface; they give space to emotional or logical responses within the psyche.
And as the freelance writer on the team, it’s good practice to open your writing pieces with a thought-provoking question. It piques a reader’s interest and hooks them into your content, which is important if the client is using blogging as a lead generation tool.
2. Use Storytelling
Questions and storytelling both have the power to bring on emotions – which are deeply embedded in desires, identifications and beliefs.
Connecting with these “raw materials” brings instant engagement with the reader, forging emotional or intellectual attachments that potentially make your content a delightful experience.
So, in other words, storytelling is relatable. When an audience nods their head yes in agreement to your story, then you know they have a vested interest in what you are telling them.
This is a powerful tool so use storytelling whenever you can for your client’s work and for your own personal work.
3. Paint With Words: Be Vivid and Descriptive in Your Choice of Words
We are largely visual and emotional creatures, so paint a mental picture with your words!
Using imagination can help with engaging and delighting your readers. Copyblogger, the online authority on copywriting, states “ the goal is to get the prospect to persuade themselves through their own understanding, experiences, and desires. The emotional picture triggers a subconscious decision to buy (your content), at which point the sale is yours to lose or retain as the prospect’s logical mind takes over.”
If you can paint a picture with your words for your client, then that will ultimately help their marketing efforts and sales. And when you can help them make more money, then you’ve become a value team member, making it less likely they will let you go.
4. Use Simple Words
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”, said the great Albert Einstein.
Great writing has to be simple and clear and easily understood. Complicated words only make it hard for the reader to digest, let alone delight in your content.
If you doubt this, just think of the memorable and catchy slogans of Nike’s “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different” – they are brilliant examples of clear, simple messages that anyone, even a three-year old can say. The slogans are also elegant, expressing a whole state of mind in just two, three words.
Be ruthless to throw out every word that does not contribute to the meaning of what you have to say. Again, this is about paring your message down to its purest form, and paving the shortest and swiftest path to your readers’ mind for engagement. “The greatest ideas are the simplest.” Make every word count.
5. Use Punctuation to Accent Your Message
Punctuation marks are like the fine finishing brushes in your painting toolbox.
They help with adding expression to your writing, enabling your writing to almost sing! Here are some types of punctuations you shouldn’t leave out of your content:
- The colon ( : ) expands on the sentence before it; often introducing a list to demonstrates or elaborates what was mentioned before. It’s also a good idea to use bullet lists in your online content to break up your writing and make it easier to read.
- The semicolon ( ; ) is somewhere between a full stop and a comma. It’s used to connect two independent clauses, which are somehow related.
- The en-dash ( – ) is used to indicate a sudden break in thought or sentence structure; introduce a phrase added for emphasis, definition or explanation; or separate two clauses.
There you go! Five easy ways to make your content more engaging! Over to you – do you have any more tips to add to my list?