When it comes to innovative content, we’re usually trying to come up with compelling things to say that will bring us attention and enhanced credibility, maybe much like we would if we were writing a serialized book. But this is definitely not a book.
In fact, online content in general and blogging in particular are very non-bookish indeed, thanks to the real-time interactivity the medium allows. Instead of a static monologue, blogs are a two-way multimedia interactive environment.
Let’s take a look at four ways you can spark interaction with your audience that increases engagement and makes you a more innovative content producer.
1. Encourage Comments
Encouraging blog comments is the most obvious way to interact with your readers, and there’s more to it than simply asking readers to leave a comment. Luckily, we covered that very topic recently with One Simple Way to Generate More Comments on Your Blog. It seems James knew what he was talking about, since the post scored over 100 comments.
But beyond the ways in which you can end your post to encourage comments, what you say in substance will make a big difference, too. When you take the time to be strategic about your subject matter, you’ll be naturally asking big questions and tackling tough topics, both of which tend to lead to robust reader discussion.
2. Turn Questions into Content
One of the easiest ways to create compelling content is to simply invite readers to ask questions, and then answer the questions in public. This is the entire basis of the iconic status of folks like Dear Abbey and Ann Landers, and the technique can be applied to just about any subject matter.
Why does this work so well? Because the format forces you to focus on what your readers are most interested in—themselves and their own challenges. Here are a few ways people are using this strategy online:
- Advice Column: Maki just recently launched Ask Dosh Dosh, and he gives a lot of great reasons why adding an advice column to your blog can benefit both you and your readers.
- Audio Advice: The radio call-in format is decades old, but easier that ever thanks to free services like Blog Talk Radio that allow anyone to interact with their audience with audio.
- Video Advice: Check out how Ask Dan & Jennifer takes the same basic approach, but instead they use video and a casual setting to bring the advice column into the age of You Tube.
3. Reader Activities
For some blogs, getting readers to perform tasks, assignments and peer reviews can add a lot of value. If you’re taking an educational approach to blogging (you are, right?), then why not add in elements usually found in paid training programs?
For example, Darren Rowse of Problogger does Group Writing Projects and Community Blog Consulting. I’ll be doing an ongoing series on magazine headline remix challenges, and I occasionally even rewrite headlines for readers as a group learning experience.
You don’t need to have an audience of bloggers for this to work. Just think about which individual activities and group collaborations can help your readers “get” what you’re talking about at a deeper level.
4. Multimedia Engagement
Starting now and into the future, you’ll see more and more content being supplemented with multimedia that can be interacted with in ways that increase engagement. This is some of the stuff we’re showing people how to create in Teaching Sells for paid content environments, but I expect to see it trickle into the blogosphere as competition increases.
For example, say you want to differentiate between the standard model for selling information products using the “funnel” approach compared to the “access” model of membership sites. First, you’d want to make sure that people understand what the funnel approach is all about, so you provide a bit of interactive multimedia content (with audio) that prompts readers to “lean forward” and interact with the data however they want to.
Go ahead, click that last link above (it won’t bite, but there is audio). You’d be shocked at how easy it is to create this kind of content, and the tools are getting cheaper and more powerful all the time.
What Did I Miss?
These four ways to increase interaction levels are the most obvious, but I’m betting there are others out there. Feel free to share any methods you’ve seen or ideas that you have in the comment section.