You Ask, I Answer: Driving Engagement with Content?

Erika asks, “What drives a reader to engage with a piece of content?”

Engagement is all about one word: emotion. Something in the content has to trigger our emotions. Consider the content that engages you – and how algorithms learn from that engagement. If you want engagement, you have to decide what emotion you want to provoke, and then build content around that emotion.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Eric asks, What drives a reader to engage with a piece of content? Well, I guess, a bunch of things to unpack here first, what do you define as engagement? Is it somebody sharing it? Is somebody commenting on it? Is it somebody returning to it over and over again, First, you need to figure out what that looks like when it comes to the content where it lives natively, and where it goes.

So for example, social networks is going someone’s email.

There are a number of straightforward easy use tools, you can put on your website that will allow you to not only enable sharing, you know, those little sharing widgets and buttons, but then also put some tracking on it as well, to track the different types of engagements you can get out of people.

So keep that in mind.

Engagement, though, getting somebody to do something is all about one word.

And that word is emotion.

Something in your content has to trigger an emotion provoking emotional reaction in somebody to get them to do anything, convert, engage, share, the content has to get somebody to feel something strongly enough, that they’re willing to do something about it.

So give some thought already, to what content engages you, right? When you’re on LinkedIn, or Twitter or YouTube or Facebook? What What do you do on those networks, and then pay some attention to what gets you engaged.

There are any number of algorithms out there on these different networks, Facebook, most prominently who are optimizing for engagement, and they are optimizing for engagement based on emotion, consider the topics that are shown to you in your newsfeed.

Right, and how they make you feel.

So I, semi jokingly say when I’m putting together the news for my daily newsletter, about the pandemic, that I’m going to take my daily bath of, you know, rage and sorrow, because that’s very often the content that presents itself content that makes people angry and afraid.

Now, you may not want those emotions to be associated with your brand.

Certainly, we have seen plenty of examples where those types of engagements, leave a emotional aftertaste to your brand, right.

So if your brand is really good at making people angry, that’s not necessarily a good thing, you’ll get that engagement.

But you may not get the business that’s supposed to follow from it.

So that’s another key point.

But it is fairly obvious when you look at the state of discourse, when you look at the state of what people share and how they share it and how they react to it.

That the emotions that certainly get the engagement you’re looking for most easily are those that are negative.

So a big part then, is you have to decide what emotions your brand stands for and wants to provoke in somebody.

And then how do you build content around that emotion, what content creates that emotion in you? This is not something you can automate easily, you can certainly do the analytics on that emotion and the complexities of it.

But at the end of the day, you’re gonna have to do a lot of qualitative work a lot of qualitative research, asking people to send you examples.

Let’s say, your chosen emotion is security, right? This is content that makes you feel secure.

So not only does it have an element of happiness to it, but it has a complete absence of fear.

Or it has fear that is presented initially and then remediated.

You need to ask people can you send me content that does that for you and send it to a representative group of people that represents the kinds of customers you want? And commission essentially a research study and ask people send me content that makes you feel secure, it makes you feel more secure, it makes you feel better about your safety or your security or whatever the emotion is you’re going after and then you have to read all of it, consume it, look for similarities that help you identify, okay, these are the kinds of things structures certain types of Language, certain types of sentences, imagery, certain types of adjectives and adverbs, certain topics and the way they’re presented and build yourself a Codex of this is the type of content that is associated with a feeling of security, so that you can mimic some of that and incorporate some of that into the content you’re building.

Now, that is a fairly lengthy process, but it’s an important one that if you want to provoke that emotion in people, that’s what you need to do just the same as if you were trying to provoke I don’t know, what wrath or lust or sloth or any of the cardinal sins or any of the the cardinal virtues, what what kinds of content invoke honor or piety or any of these, these more complex emotions, remember that you don’t have to stick to a base emotion not to, you know, pick anger or happiness or sadness, you can.

There are pallets of emotion, that are composed of the base emotions in varying proportions.

And that that is something that you can do some level of quantification on, it’s not exact, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the natural language processing tools available on the market to do that kind of analysis, but at least it can point you directionally, like, Hey, I’m gonna write this piece on, on supposed to make people feel happy.

And you run it through one of these scoring tools and says, hmm, looks like you’ve written mostly about anger, like whoops.

So that is, what you can do.

To get people to engage with your content is right with the target emotion mind after you’ve done your market research, and then use various natural language processing tools to let you know if you’re on the right track or not.

And then, of course, you measure it right? Does content that you put together with this new emotional focus? does it perform better or worse than your existing Condon? You’re doing, you know, essentially like a clinical trial, almost your you’re going to be AB testing emotional content versus non emotional content to see how it performs.

So really good question.

Emotions are tricky, because everybody’s an individual, and everybody’s emotions are different.

And there are common grounds, but there are also just as many exceptions to the rule.

So it’s one of the reasons why it is really important to get a representative sample when you’re doing your market research.

So that is not people exactly like you.

Unless all of your customers are exactly like you.

If that’s the case, then that would be the sample you’d want to take.

If you have follow up questions on this topic, leave them in the comments box below.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter, I’ll talk to you soon.

Take care.

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