How to Engage Your Audience Online in 2021

Nicolas Algoedt

Aug 4, 2021

How to Engage Your Audience Online in 2021 Featured Image
Nicolas Algoedt

Aug 4, 2021

Online presence has become a must for any entrepreneur. Without it, you are almost invisible. To boost your visibility and spread your message, you need to engage your audience. Doing it in an online setting can be difficult, but now impossible.

First, let’s think: what makes you want to leave a comment on a post? Why do you want to go back to a certain website or brand? So, you have to think strategically and emotionally. 

People are creatures of emotions and tapping into them will certainly make them want to respond. Likewise, when you engage your audience’s emotions, they will reciprocate.

But how do you do it? How do you create content that makes your audience’s heart tick? Well, let’s see some tips below.

Table of Contents
  1. Find the right people

  2. Tell a compelling story

  3. Share your values

  4. Engage your audience with questions

  5. Build a sense of trust and community

  6. Follow the trends

  7. Conclusion

1. Find the right people

Make sure you are speaking to the right people. There is no point talking about veganism with a meat-lover. In the real world, they might politely listen to you, but online they will just scroll to the next post. So why bother?

Targeting people who share the same values as you is crucial. They will listen to what you have to say. They will want to tell you their stories. So let’s think about them for a moment. Who are they? What do they like? You can go into as many details as you want. E.g. Do they go to a gym? What do they do on a Sunday afternoon?

Once you have found them, you just need to use the right channels of communication. Marketing on Instagram, Facebook, or other social media is simple if you use targeted ads. Just make sure to narrow down your audience as much as you can.

The same goes if you want to sell something. Google feed specification is a great way to attract just the right people to your shop. 

So when trying to engage your audience, think beyond how old they are, their sex, where they live. Think about their likes and dislikes, what groups they are part of, what other brands or people might they follow on social media.

2. Tell a compelling story

One of the common mistakes when trying to engage your audience is giving advice. The idea behind any business is that they have a problem you can solve. And if you simply state that, they will not feel the need to engage with you. They might even feel patronized.

Instead, try telling a story. Public speaking tips will come in handy. For a good speech, you need to know your audience, your stage, keep it on point and entertaining, leaving room for questions. Except your stage is now your website and your social media accounts.

Remember the post by Costa that went viral when they paid respects to their deceased customer? They put a sign saying his favorite seat was reserved for an hour during which the staff attended the funeral. This is such a simple, yet impactful story. It is a story of an ordinary man to which people can relate.

Try sharing stories like this. And remember, you are not only telling a story with your words, but also with the visual content you post. So be creative with it. There are many tutorials on video marketing ideas and making nice photos. Just find out what works for you and your audience.

3. Share your values

Good digital marketing strategy and branding have one thing in common: they convey values. People usually connect over shared ideas and values, so you are more likely to get a higher engagement rate from your audience.

Let’s think for a moment: what are the values you want to be associated with your brand? Is it eco-friendly and healthy? Or prestigious and luxury? You can think of any number of values you like. But you have to communicate each of them differently.

Chances are you will have a different audience for each value. There may be some cross-overs, but don’t count on it. People often think that the same person must hold two similar values. This may or may not be true.

Here is an example: some people want healthy things in their lives, but they simply do not care about ecology. There are, of course, those who cherish both. But to get all of them to engage with you, think of a strategy that conveys both values separately.

4. Engage your audience with questions

People love feeling respected and heard. Asking your audience questions shows you value their opinion. But take it a step further: listen to what they have to say. Whether you reward their engagement or simply reply, make them feel heard. Try to establish a rapport with them.

Here is a great example of how a brand engaged their audience: when they wanted to expand their products, they asked their customers what they wanted to see next. They got a ton of replies and decided to move forward with the most popular answers.

What did they achieve by doing this? They showed they cared more about customers than sales. They significantly shortened market research time and cut off potential losses. Best of all: they didn’t have to put the product on a trial period. They already knew it would sell well.

This is the type of engagement you want to achieve. Customers who feel heard will come back and even bring new people to you. And it is fairly easy to do so. Instagram quiz stickers are a simple and fun way to engage the audience you already have. You can also send queries to your subscribers in a newsletter.

5. Build a sense of trust and community

Successful brands and people have built communities around them. Naturally, they want their audience to have space to interact. But more importantly, they will provide added value for members who join.

If you want to do the same, first you need to give incentives to people to join. So think of your ideas and values, think of your ideal audience and ask yourself: Why would they want to be a part of my community?

Maybe you can offer little insights into your business. Or give valuable tips and tricks. You may want to think even bigger and support a certain cause. If the cause aligns with your values, chances are your audience will want to support it too. People love being part of a success story.

But building a community goes beyond this. Creating a sense of trust is what matters. Engage with them and respectfully share your opinions. Authenticity is what audiences want to see and they recognize it. And that is the key to building trust.

6. Follow the trends

Instagram reels have been the rage for a while now, especially with the algorithm pushing them. So if you want a higher engagement rate, this is the way to go. And Instagram itself is a good example of adopting trends, but tailoring them to their needs. 

When TikTok was threatening to become the No. 1 platform, they adopted the new trend. Instagram invented Stories, but that was back when Snapchat was popular. Now they also have IGTV, a concept similar to YouTube.

Instagram stays on top of their game by following trends, but they also add their uniqueness. And this is a strategy you should adopt. 

Apple used the unboxing phenomenon to create fancy packaging for their phones. Again, a trend was there, they just made it work for them.

That being said, don’t lose your authenticity to trends. Remember the values you promote and what your brand is all about. Adopt new strategies that come along, but not at any cost. See how they can work for you, not how you can work for them.

Conclusion

Finding the right people to talk to and establishing trust are key to engaging your audience online. People want to be a part of something bigger. By creating content that satisfies these needs, you will get them to talk to you.

When your audience speaks, try to listen. Ask them questions. They want to feel heard and respected. They want to hear moving stories about everyday things. And they will want to share their stories with you, too.

Following trends is great, but don’t get carried away. Try new things as they come, but make them work for you. Experiment, play around, see what you like and what your audience likes.

But most importantly, stay true to your beliefs and ideals. If you build your brand on authenticity, your audience will recognize it and respect you for it. You’ll have no problem sharing your values with them and attracting like-minded people.


Nicolas is VP of Marketing EMEA at Insider. Passionate about new technologies and e-commerce, Nicolas has held various position at leading e-commerce and tech companies including Groupon, Microsoft and Bwin.