How engagement changed my writing

photo credit: The Hamster Factor via photopin cc
photo credit: The Hamster Factor via photopin cc
“Engagement” is the new word for anyone who is in the field of communication. Wether it is Journalism, Marketing or Social Media, engagement is the new frontier, the new set of tricks you use to keep your audience loyal.

Engagement happens mainly through a social platform. It is about starting a conversation around an idea, rather than just communicating the idea. It is multidirectional communication.

The tone of this conversation is key and it can be a challenge when you are a journalist and you need to “shift” to this new way to communicate. It is not so easy to find the right tone, this is why the best bloggers are not always the best writers but those who find the way to hook their readers.

These are some things I am learning:

Talk “with” your audience

A small change, since we are talking about multidirectional communication. I don’t think on how to talk to the audience anymore, but on how to talk “with” my audience. This helps me step down the stage and sit among my friends for a nice chat with an open and relaxed tone of voice. I don’t only want to talk but I want to listen. A big difference and pretty difficult for journos.

Your reader is a partner

If you start this “conversation mode” from the beginning you probably won’t need to end with the typical “What is your opinion, did this happen to you?” at the end. That is a marketing trick rather than good writing style.

Some ways to create a sense of complicity with your reader:

• Make personal comments: “I don’t know if it happens to you but it is alway my case…”
• Round up an idea with a direct question (did you see how…? See those red things? You better be careful because…. ).

It happens to me very often that once I finish my post and I publish, I see the comment area right after my text and I realize that I have been writing for myself. Many websites add a bunch of modules and related links at the end of each post or article to take the reader to other places, and the comment area is left at the very end, killing engagement opportunities.

Don’t be full of yourself

Social media have a massive audience, but it is very volatile (this is why engagement is so important): “tell me something that I don´t know, but pretend I do know it”. Share an idea, don´t lecture your audience.

Visualize your readers

This is something I always did and I think it is useful for any writer, wether in social media or not: imagine the person who is reading you. I am pretty sure you already do it, but maybe you are not aware of it. When you are writing you are seeing “somebody” reading you. It is always somebody new, and you can see this person quite clearly, if this is happening to you as it happens to me. Your mind is giving your a strong message: making a portrait of who is reading you makes your message so much more effective. Defininig your reader as much as possible is actually one of the most important strategies for content marketing.

Lee esta entrada en Español en Periodista Hispano.

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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