“Engage” is the new “it” word when it comes to describing effective online marketing and social media marketing. Brian Solis, social media guru, has a new book called Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web. Scott Stratton (the unmarketing guru) has book is titled UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. And I’ve attended endless teleseminars on social media where every other word is Engage, Engage, Engage!
Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to living and working in the new world order of Web 2.0. But what does that word really mean? What does it mean to engage your ideal fans and clients, or have a website and social media presence that is truly engaging?
You see, the Internet is no longer just a place to get information. It’s now a worldwide quilting circle, networking party, poker game, dating service and garage sale. Your clients and fans are online to interact, participate and contribute… NOT be an invisible, passive receiver of information. They want the chance to be seen and heard as well.
So, in order for your website to do its job, it needs to not only captivate the interest of your potential fans and brilliantly communicate your message, it needs to invite and inspire those fans to DO something, to become a part of the conversation, to respond to what you are saying or offering in a concrete, physical way.
How are you going to do that? Well, here are some suggestions:
1. “Are You Talking To Me?”
When I studied Somatic Psychotherapy years and years ago, my teachers who would tell me, “Meet your clients where they are.” In other words, don’t try to pull your client’s state of mind over to where you are; instead, lean in to meet him where he is. Be with him where he is.
This applies to your website (and all your marketing) as well. Meet your client or fan where they are by talking to them in their own language. This means your website copy needs to mimic the self-talk running through your client’s mind all day long. Your words need to be the same words your client uses when talking to his or her family and friends. What you say needs to not only be instantly understandable to your ideal fan, it needs to resonate with their very being — their heart, mind and soul.
Just because you may use certain words, phrases and concepts all day long doesn’t mean your client does. I have a client who is a lawyer, and when he wants to, he can pour on the legalese! But his ideal clients are musicians. They don’t talk like that! Luckily, this lawyer is also a musician, so he’s also really good at talking like a normal human being.
Don’t make your fans struggle to understand YOU, because even if they’re willing to make the effort, you won’t have engaged or inspired them. You’ll only have made them tired and a tad frustrated.
2. “Oh, Yes, That’s for ME!”
If you want to engage your fan’s interest, talk about them. Talk about their challenges, needs, desires, dreams. Let them know that you “get” them, that you understand what’s bugging them… or delighting them!
We talked about this a few weeks ago , but it bears repeating. The best way to engage your audience is to speak directly to their burning needs and desires so they know, immediately, that they are in the right place! You need to communicate both your understanding of those needs and wants, and your ability to meet those needs and wants… in words your audience can understand instantly.
3. Invite Them to DO Something!
How do you know if your website is really doing its job?
When you invite your audience to do something… and they do it!
The trick is to make that call to action so deliciously irresistible, or fun, or urgent or important to your fans’ well-being, that there’s no way they would ever dream of not participating! This is yet another reason why you need to know who your ideal fan or client is, so you can engage them in something you know will turn them on.
When you’ve gotten your potential fan to take some kind of action on your website, other than passively read it, you’re engaging, baby!
Now, the most common call to action is also the most important, and we’ve seen it a million times: when a website offers you something for free if you “sign-up” or opt-in. The reason we’ve seen this a million times is because it works. People want cool, free stuff! Especially if that stuff is valuable or exclusive in some way.
Think about it. If you went to a website that:
- spoke directly to your needs and wants,
- seemed to understand exactly what you’re up against day in and day out,
- presented you with a solution or advantage that made sense to you,
- offered to give you that solution or advantage immediately via a download for free…
…would you take the time to sign up for that Something? Sure you would!
4. Think Outside the Norm
Hey, you’re a creative genius. So, let the creative juices flow when it comes to inventing ways to engage your website visitor.
In this regard, technology is your friend.
Have you ever been to a website where you scroll images and they morph into something else? Then, when you click on them, something pops up or some other kind of visual or audio surprise takes place? (Take a look at the Magic Hat Brewery website.) When done well, this kind of visual play can be engaging and impressive. But when done poorly, it can just be annoying and highly distracting.
Nevertheless, it shows that there are fun, playful ways to engage your visitor other than asking them to opt-in. If you’re a visual artist, is there a way you can make it possible for your website visitors to play and interact with one of your images? If you’re a writer, why not have a “piece in progress” that invites your visitors to add the next line and participate in the co-creation of this piece?
Some musicians are getting more and more savvy about engaging their fans by allowing them to participate in the creative process. They post unfinished song clips or lyrics and ask their fans to critique them or even rewrite them! Multi-instrumentalist Mark Marshall created a membership website called “Four for 4” that allowed members to participate in every aspect of the creation process of his four album project. Kal & Rob did something similar.
What ideas do you have for making your own website more engaging and interactive? Share them here by commenting on this blog post. Or if you have questions, post your questions here as well. (Did you get that? I just asked you to participate. I’m hoping you will!).