You’ve spent the time and money to build an audience. Now what? How do you engage them and build followers into a true online community that responds and comes back for more?
1. Rile ‘em up.
What makes your followers angry? Touches their fears? Ignites disgust? First, understand your subject matter inside and out. What are the trends? What does the opposition want? Then publish or share content that reflects your group’s point-of-view and provokes an immediate, emotional response.
2. Make ‘em laugh.
It’s harder to do, but it rounds out your personality. Stay away from sacred cows—you risk offending your supporters. But happiness is one of the seven emotions. If you can touch an emotional chord through the funny bone you’ll balance out the darker emotions.
3. Be personal.
Share something about yourself, your fearless leader or a member who told you an amazing tale. People rarely remember facts, but they remember stories. That doesn’t mean you should share boring stuff about daily life. (Please don’t!) But find a personal anecdote and wrap it around an objective.
4. Simple graphics.
In an increasingly visual world, online images are winning. Facebook’s algorithm EdgeRank prioritizes pictures and graphics. So, if you don’t have PhotoShop, then download PIXLR. It’s free and allows you to modify images. Add some text but keep it simple. Remember: you’re sharing values.
What do Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Thunderclap, and Sunnyskyz have in common? Curated sensationalism. A story that might not be given a second glance can be given new life with a headline that grabs the viewer by the throat. It’s nothing new. Ten years ago, it was the New York Post and the Enquirer. A hundred years ago it was called yellow journalism.
6. Work it offline.
At every conference where you have a booth, on the final slide of presentations, on direct mail, in advertisements, and on business cards, remind people of your online presence and ask them to join. Tell people about it in conversations. Talk to your grocer. (Well, okay, maybe not your grocer.) Within reasonable boundaries, be everywhere.
Multiply your power with like-minded organizations around a single issue and message. Create a Facebook page with its own branding that displays logos of allied groups. Advertise to build Likes. Then double-publish your posts—on your page and the new Alliance page. Share occasional posts of your allies and they’re bound to do the same.
8. Tweet with @mentions.
Once you’ve determined who the influencers are in your industry, local government, region or issue, get their attention by adding an @mention. If you’re not already using this powerful technique, just add a selected Twitter handle to your tweet. Don’t be obnoxious but persistence will pay off. Then respond or RT.
9. Rapid Response.
Call up influencers you’ve engaged or committed online followers and ask them to be a member of rapid response team to promote your organization or your take on breaking news. Have content ready for key moments, then be the first one out of the gate. If you can, give your team a heads up by email to tell them news is coming, then ask them to share and engage.
10. Don’t be sloppy.
Paste your text onto a Word doc and run a quick spellcheck if the program you’re using doesn’t have one built in. On social media, especially Twitter, it’s harder to do. Everyone makes mistakes on social media. Your best choice may be to admit your mistake quickly. But it’s no big deal. Only the whole world might be watching.
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