connecting with your audience

What do I think? I think you should be more specific.

Most of you probably know that engagement is the key to social media success, but engagement is not, I repeat NOT following up a blog post, or social media post by asking your audience, “what do you think?” What do I think about what? The weather, my lunch, the colour of my shirt? Asking your audience what they think is one of the broadest questions you could possibly ask.

Be Specific

If you want to avoid silence, ask a specific question that directly relates to whatever it is you are posting. For example, if you posted a third party link regarding Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation, ask your audience what is one way the new CASL law will affect their marketing efforts or ask what one thing they hope CASL will do for marketers? By asking questions that directly relates to specific content, you better your chances of getting comments and creating genuine conversation.

Be Network Appropriate

Obviously, you can’t post an introductory paragraph before asking a question on Twitter, but you can on Facebook! If you are looking to engage on Twitter, try asking a question relating to a timely event, perhaps something everyone knows about. For example, if you are nearing a national holiday, such as Canada Day, ask your audience what their favourite Canada Day activity is. You could also tell them (in brief) what you’re doing to celebrate. On Facebook and Google+ you could include a link to Canada Day activities, ask what events they have attended in the past and also suggest activities no one may have thought of before – or ask your audience for suggestions. 

Be Prepared to Answer

When you do ask a question on social media that generates answers, reply! A lot of people on Twitter get frustrated when someone poses a question and they answer within seconds of the post publishing and their answers are followed up with… nothing. This tells your audience that your questions are not genuine and that your posts are scheduled. A good question will get an answer, so be prepared to answer in a timely fashion with more questions or information to keep the conversation going.

The key to engaging with your audience is to demonstrate that the questions you are asking serve a purpose. Why are you asking a question? What do you want to know? By asking a direct question regarding a specific subject you are telling your audience that you genuinely care about what they have to say and want to hear from them. If your question is too open-ended, you won’t get many responses because people won’t know how to answer. The more specific your questions are, the more answers you will receive.

What is one type of question you always answer? What’s the worst question you have ever seen asked on social media?


Are you giving your audience value?


There are several phrases I use over and over again because they are key to online success. Today I’m focusing on one of them  - give value to your audience.

We’ve talked about the importance of understanding your brand and how important it is to be thoughtful in what you post, but there is something else you need to keep in mind. If you go too far off course from your brand, values, and promises, you will bore or irritate your audience into un-following you.

How do you figure out if you’re sharing content people who follow you value? Let’s break it down:

Who is your audience?

Can you describe your audience? Every audience is different and you need to take the time to really figure out who your audience is. Understanding who makes up that audience, what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like from you is critical in creating the kind of content that can help you build relationships that turn that audience into customers.

Once you’ve figured that out, creating and sharing content that can connect with your audience becomes a lot easier.

What do they value?

Not every audience is looking for the same kind of information. Make sure that everything you share has some kind of connection back to who you are and who your audience is. 

Think about why they followed you in the first place. What would people expect the content to look like coming from your brand? Make sure your content doesn’t go too far off from that.

Things that people value tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. You’re teaching them something,
  2. You’re entertaining them, or
  3. You’re giving them tools and knowledge. 

What don’t they want?

Nobody likes to follow a brand that is only trying to sell to them. That’s valuable to the brand, not to the audience. Make sure that you’re giving your audience something they want or can use so that when you do post some sales posts - and you definitely should - they think so highly of you they’re far more inclined to make the buy.

People don’t want information that has nothing to do with them or that they can’t relate to.

Let’s look at some examples

  • If your main audience is young women about to get married, interesting articles about retirement don’t make sense. 
  • If your main audience is men who want to home-brew their own beer, then funny cartoons about being a new mom don’t make sense.
  • If you promised tips and tricks to help them do something better, just sharing things you’re selling isn’t going to convince them of anything other than that you’re pushy and too sales-y.
  • If you sell hammers, make sure that you talk about the hammers, and the things you can do with the hammers. 

Spend some time thinking about your content and what you’re giving to your audience that they would value. Then share some examples (good and bad) of what you’ve seen or done that relates to giving an audience value.

Audience: talking to a specific group helps focus your message

I’ve talked about audience before and the importance of understanding how speaking to your specific audience in a way that they can connect with is crucial. Today I want to talk about segmenting your audience, and not being afraid to really, specifically, target a certain group.

Your target audience is never “everyone”

Time and time again when I ask people who their audience is the answer is extremely broad. Women. Anyone with money to invest. Anyone with a car.

You can’t really connect with an audience that broad. You need to segment your audience and then figure out how to talk to them individually.


Toyota is a great example of a company that could say their audience is anyone who wants to buy a car. Although that may be true, different segments of an audience want different things based on price, safety, style, engine, etc.

This is one of my favourite targeted ads ever. It’s for the Toyota Sienna and talks directly to my peers and I. We are in our 30s, we have young kids, and we never wanted to be the “minivan parents”. This ad clearly talks to parents because they are the most likely to need this vehicle (my 60+ neighbours have one; they clearly didn’t buy it for the same reasons I did).

Here’s another Toyota ad talking to a different audience, this time without talking about a specific vehicle. This ad would not work for anyone who doesn’t use their mobile for asking for opinions when out shopping. *I* frequently text photos of clothing I’m trying on when shopping to my friends to get their opinions. I can go shopping with my friends without finding a time we’re all available. My dad doesn’t even have a cell phone.

But I’m not a huge corporation

Who is your most ideal client? Start there, focus on them specifically.  Connecting with one group really well could pay off far more than trying to reach everyone but not really connecting with anyone.

I once had a financial planner who specifically wanted women as her clients. Women who needed to understand how to save and plan financially independently of her spouse.  Her messaging was all to that effect and she primarily went to women’s networking groups.  Would she take anyone who wanted to invest with her?  Of course.  But meanwhile she was out connecting with women on a personal level, gaining their trust, and declaring a niche in her business.

If you’re a realtor maybe you want to focus on clients who are looking to downsize now that they’ve become empty nesters. You can provide specific information on how to declutter, how to decide what to keep and what to get rid of or helping people decide what size home is right for just two people.

Some businesses have a more obvious perfect audience segment and some need to work harder to choose one. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and declare a niche audience. Instead of limiting the potential of your clientele, you’re creating so many opportunities to really reach the clients you most want.

Leave a comment and tell me who your ideal client is. Do you target them specifically?

Are you a part of your content?

Social media is about conversations. Hopefully, multiple people will take part in these conversations but even if they don’t, it should still sound like a conversation.

Formal vs Conversational

While formal writing can be seen as a more respectful way of writing, I also think it’s a dryer and duller way of writing.  The only formal texts that *I* read are ones that I have to read. A text written to tell a story, to share your thoughts and insights, to make a person feel like they can hear you talking to them draws people in. The stories, the small personal details, and the personality you infuse into all you write makes people feel like they’re getting to know you.  The more they feel they know you, the more likely they are to start entering into the conversations, and the more likely they are to come back.

People want to feel connected to you

Many of the successful social media accounts for big brands tell you who is manning the accounts. Why? Because they know we know there is someone behind the words, and though every communication doesn’t need to be attributed, when it seems more like a personal detail or a response to a question, we want to know who is talking to us.  We want faces and we want names. 

Where should you start?

For many, giving up the really formal way of writing is hard.  Practice. Can you write a bio without it sounding like something you would have written to apply for a job? Can you tell me something about your business so that it sounds like we’re meeting at an event instead of on your web site?  Play around with texts, read what other people are writing and practice.

Connect with your readers by being you

For our regular readers, can you tell the difference between a post written by Karen as oppossed to me? Have you started to learn how we talk and communicate with our audience differently?

Do you have a hard time giving up old “formal” habits? What about your writing do you feel connects with your readers?