Just as “content” and “user experience” were before it, the big buzzword these days is “engagement.” Awesome copy and whiz-bang websites are all fine and good, but if consumers aren’t using them – absorbing that content, immersing themselves in those sites – then what’s the point?
You need engagement to ensure consumers are getting and acting on the messages you’re targeting to them. Because engagement leads to action, action leads to conversion and conversion leads to more visitors and revenue, which is the “nuts and bolts” of measurable results. That’s the point.
So now that we’ve covered the WHY, what about the HOW?
When it came time to write this blog post, I came across a Content Marketing Institute post entitled, “5 Engagement-Driven Elements You Should Add To Every Blog Post.” A blog post about writing good blog posts? Brilliant!
So inspired by writer Neil Patel and adapted by me, here are four simple, but critical, elements every blog post should have to maximize engagement with its audience. (I ditched his number 5 – say something controversial – because who needs that added stress?)
FOUR KEY ELEMENTS EVERY BLOG POST SHOULD HAVE:
1. AN OBVIOUS POINT
When settling down to write a new post, ask yourself this question: What is the ONE key takeaway I want readers to learn from this content? If you approach your post with one focused goal in mind, it’s far more likely you’ll achieve it. For an email, your “point” should be your subject line. For a blog post, it’s your headline or first few lines of copy.
Consider this analogy. If I throw 10 balls at you, you’ll become so overwhelmed trying to snag them all that you may not catch any of them. But if I throw one ball at you, you can focus on just that one and will almost certainly catch it. Same thing with content – or any marketing message, ad, website, etc. One strong call to action is much more effective than multiple options that distract your audience. Have a point, and get to it quickly.
2. A CLEAR STRUCTURE
Every message must have a clear structure to be easily understood. Today’s consumers have such short attention spans that you have to make life easy for them. If they don’t “get” what you’re trying to say quickly – and see an easy, logical payoff – they’re not going to get past the first few lines. And your structure needs to be both logical and visually pleasing.
Organize your information, story or message in a coherent structure. Avoid a series of random thoughts strung together by following a simple outline with a clear beginning (your point), middle (the payoff) and end (your conclusion). Then make sure you present those parts in a format that’s easy to digest, through the use of headlines, subheads, bold text, bullets and numbered lists readers can quickly scan for context.
3. AN INTERESTING QUESTION
Ask, and they will answer. This isn’t necessary for every post, but posing a question is usually a sure-fire way to rev up response (and thus, engagement) to your message.
End a social post about an amazing restaurant by asking fans to share their favorite restaurants, chefs or dishes in your area. Frame a blog post about romantic getaways by asking folks to chime in on the top inns or spas in your destination. This jump-starts conversations (and sharing) by posing a thought to ponder and giving readers a chance to be heard. Which they love.
Think of the blogs and social posts you respond to. You probably did so because there was a clear question or action conveyed – making it easy to act. That’s what you should do for your own readers.
4. A SOLID CONCLUSION
Just like a book, movie or song needs a strong ending, so does a blog post. If your message fizzles out at the end with no real takeaway, readers won’t feel compelled to act on it. But end with a strong call to action or clear conclusion and your message will be remembered.
Your conclusion should quickly reinforce all key points, leaving them with the one clear takeaway you introduced back at the beginning of your post.
So next time you sit down to pound out a post, make sure it’s one that will engage your audience.
- Determine your key point and make it right away.
- Organize supporting thoughts in a coherent, visually pleasing format.
- Pose a question that provokes a response.
- Wrap up with a short-and-sweet conclusion with clear takeaways.
What are your best tips for writing effective blogs and social posts? (See what I just did there?)