February 24, 2015

The Top 3 Places To Engage With Your Audience (Backed by Data)


There are virtually no barriers for communication now as people can communicate with each other through many different channels like, email, social media, blog posts, text messages, etc. We have access to all of those forms at our fingertips making forms, other than talking in person, instant and real-time.

So how do you best engage with your audience without facing a sense of overwhelm because there are so many channels to interact with them on? Where are the top places to engage with your audience?

It will depend on your audience and the behaviors of those individual users that determine the specific communication channels; however, there are staples that almost every audience can be found on. Are you in those places?

Top 3 Places to Engage with your Audience (Backed by Data)

1. Social Media Channels

Over 74% of US internet users are using a social media platform, which makes it one of the perfect places to engage with your individual contacts in your audience. Granted, each social media platform behaves and delivers content differently, but taking the time to interact with a contact on these channels can be very effective.

LinkedIn has become my favorite social media platform and it is now responsible for 64% of all social media visits. It's no longer a network for users just looking for a job, but it's almost a complete media platform where users can publish their own pieces and share content that pertains to their network. Now, "the two biggest reasons professionals access content on LinkedIn is to 'keep up with industry news' and 'discover new ideas within the industry,' at 78% and 73% respectively." People, like your users or prospects, are using LinkedIn as a content source and are waiting for you to engage with the content they share or post.

Another example of engagement can be found with an automated email I received from WordStream the other day about connecting with their CEO, Larry Kim. Although I knew it was automated, it didn't take away how engaging it was. Of course, I want to connect with Larry Kim on LinkedIn! 51% of LinkedIn users have 0-500 connections and many are looking to expand their connections. Connecting with your users on LinkedIn is a simple method to stay engaged with them. You'll then be able to see what content they post to then interact from there. Take it a step further by asking influencers, like your CEO, in your company to connect with your users or prospects. Your users or prospects will feel delighted that the executives in your company care who they are to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Twitter is an easy outlet to engage in conversations and provides a quick way for you to get to know who is in your audience on a surface level. One way to engage with your audience on Twitter is to create a Twitter list with some of your top users or customers, use this list to follow what they are tweeting about and to potentially answer questions they have.

My (@sabelharris) Followers' Interests

To level up your approach, be proactive and check your Twitter analytics to see what your audience is interested. You'll see these interests under the "Followers" tab. Some more insight can be gained through Twitter Analytics, you'll be able to see what your audience's top interests are. Based on that, you now have ideas on what content you can share with those top users. Let's say they tweet out saying they need an article on growing your network you then can go to a source that speaks to that topic to deliver them a relevant article.

I use Facebook for personal purposes and of course sharing awesome Contactually content, but I think I would be taken aback if a company or someone from sales added me on Facebook. I can't say for certain that others would feel the same way I do; yet, I did find a study by Pew Research that outlines how people use Facebook and they find that people have more personal reasons to use the platform too.

However, interacting on your company's page is the best place on Facebook to engage with your contacts. If you see that there is a user that you interacted with on a call or you were the rep to sell them your service, it would show that you still want to engage with them as a person. Just because the deal is done or the one interaction has passed doesn't mean all interactions must die.

Instagram is one of the newer rising social media platforms, but it is the fastest growing out of the list with over 300 million users. It is a visual discovery platform, where photos and videos take center stage. However, it represents a huge opportunity for companies to interact with their audience base. According to a study done by Forrester, Instagram leads the pack with the highest social engagement.

Their "study found that top brands' Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%." Which means that these brands generated 58% more engagement per follower vs. Facebook and 120 times more engagement than Twitter. Establishing or using your company's own Instagram account can reach your audience in a more visual way. Since brands also function like individuals on Instagram, you can interact with your contacts photos, encourage them to tag you (if relevant), or search for hashtags that would relate to your company to then like those pictures.

2. Email

Although, this channel appears in many posts on this blog, it's the tried and true form of communication for almost anything.

80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting and 44% of salespeople give up after 1 follow-up. This is the perfect chance for you fill that gap to engage with your contacts to consistently interact with them. Don't overdo it as it may come across as annoying; however, people are genuinely busier these days and following up more than once can ensure the proper engagement.

You can schedule a Program in Contactually that will automate the process for you and/or we'll tell you when you need to follow up with a certain contact based on the timeline you set for your segments or your contact buckets. For one-off emails, using Boomerang to schedule out emails to be sent in the future, if you remember in the moment and have the time, can still offer the personal touch your contacts wish for.

3. Blogs They Read

Millions of pieces of content are published and shared every day. At even faster rate, people are consuming these pieces and expecting more. The printed publishing industry has been on the slow decline for over the past couple decades. People are no longer reading their preferred newspaper delivered to their door each morning, instead they are consuming multiple sites and publications daily. They have more access to content than they ever did before. The American Press Institute found that Americans get their news from 4-8 sources every week.

Think about your industry peers' blogs or influencers in your space, you now have the chance to curate content from those channels to share on your social media platforms. Or did you see a relevant article that falls within your expertise? Feel free to comment to express your views on the piece and additional insight you may have.

I would avoid posting sales pitches on other blogs your audience might read, but there will probably be similar people, who aren't in your audience already, who might be curious into who you are because you took the time to comment.

You can't expect your audience is always going to come to you for their needs. Now, it's your job to proactively be in the places they are using every day and you have the opportunity to engage with them effectively on those channels.