Wouldn't it be great if every single thing you wrote ended up with tons of replies, likes and people taking action?
I write daily. I then put links to these posts on Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes even LinkedIn. And that gets these posts visibility. Plus there's the traffic Google sends my way. But we're talking about traffic. Not engagement. I get some likes on Twitter and Facebook. I get some RTs on Twitter. And I even get some replies from my emails. But we're talking in the singles or low double digits. When we talk content that drives engagement, I'm hitting singles (a baseball metaphor).
But I have two friends hitting home runs regularly.
Now, let me be super clear. I'm not complaining. One of the benefits of writing daily is that I don't need to hit home runs. Being consistent does a whole lot for me.
But if you're publishing less, then you might want to know what my friends are doing and how they're so successful.
Also, and I say this because we've never talked about it, I'm not sure they know why they're so successful. They know they're consistent. They know they work hard. And I bet both think that's what does it. But I think there's another lesson we can learn from them.
It's all about consistent content creation
I've told you before – it all comes down to consistent and constant content creation. And both my friends are regulars at producing content.
One of them writes posts on their blog (while also working on online courses and new books). The other posts on social media (Facebook and Instagram) regularly.
When you are building a brand you need to be consistent. And when other platforms (Google, Facebook or Instagram) control whether you'll be seen – consistency is everything.
Especially when you know the most important thing you need to do is gather and manage attention.
Both of my friends understand this.
I'm not there yet…
Like I said, I'm hitting singles. So mostly, I'm not doing it right. And I get that. You see, when I write, I'm driven by topics. I know I'm going to sit down and write for an audience of entrepreneurs who mostly work with and around WordPress, and so I pick across several topics that I write about, and I dig into one area and write.
Sure, once every week or two I put myself into the post. Yesterday I told you I wrote about a topic because my daughter asked me to write something for her.
But most of the time, the only way you get “me” in my post is by way of my reflections or frameworks. In other words, you get my opinions, but you don't get me in my posts.
As a result, the reactions people have when they read a post of mine is either, “Yes, I agree with that,” or “No, I don't agree with him,” or “Cool, so that's how you do it.”
As you can see, when we're talking about content that drives engagement, I'm still in the shallow side of the pool. But that's ok. I keep pressing on.
[Tweet “But when the world is as divisive as it is, what people crave most is the authenticity that only comes when you're vulnerable.”]
Two of my friends are amazing at this kind of content
There's a chance you've never heard of Joy Bowen or Carey Nieuwhof. Hilariously, I met one because of the other. But that's not the point. I've known them both for a decade and am consistently amazed by how awesome they are.
What really gets me is the kind of writing they do. And there's no question it drives the engagement I've been telling you about.
When they publish something – either on social media or their sites – people engage. Immediately. And in droves. And most importantly, they take action.
But as I've looked over what they do, on a regular basis, it's not their call to action.
I could write you a 10 ways to write great CTAs and it wouldn't do anything.
Because the engagement they get doesn't come from a single line, call to action, or a request to take action.
It comes from the type of content they create. Specifically, the multiple kinds of content they create, and how they put themselves in it.
It's a very personal (and likely scary thing to do – because it requires a level of vulnerability).
But when the world is as divisive as it is, what people crave most is the authenticity that only comes when you're vulnerable.
And these two friends do it so consistently, that there's no doubt it leads to the kind of engagement we wall yearn for.
Five Kinds of Content that Drives Engagement
If you ask Google what kind of content we should all be publishing, you'll quickly learn that “how to” content is king. But if you watch what Joy and Carey do, you'll see something else.
Here are five kinds of content that drives engagement – that they both create regularly.
Personal Life Stories
Trust is everything. And what better way to help someone trust you? Tell them more about yourself. Both Joy and Carey have spent years letting people into their lives.
Carey went thru massive burn out and then figured out how to navigate his way back, and wrote a book about it. Today he helps leaders stay clear of that, while helping them lead better and smarter. But you don't have to buy his book to learn his personal story, because he weaves it into tons of his posts.
I'm down 200lbs from my heaviest weight by getting more sleep, eating smaller portions and drinking a fancy shake each morning. The last three years of shake drinking is all because of Joy.
The personal stories I read from Joy on Facebook convinced me I was ready to make a change a few years ago and I called up my friend, knowing she'd be a friend first and a health & fitness consultant second. (I was right!)
I'm not saying every single post needs to be a personal story. But the more you put yourself into your posts, the closer people feel to you. And people like connecting and taking advice (and action) from people they like, feel close to, and trust.
Personal Values & Beliefs
It would almost be enough to end with that first kind of post, because most of us don't create it. Enough homework for now. But I have four more kinds of content that they create that I think you need to as well.
Here's what I know – Joy believes you should work out even when you're at a hotel, or even a resort. That's a crazy belief. But I know it because she has articulated it clearly. And the videos on Instagram prove it.
Carey believes that the Green Egg grill is the best grill on the market. I know because he's shown it on social, and even bought one for me (did I mention he's super generous?). He also believes that a well manicured lawn is a sign of something (maybe intelligence, but then I'm in trouble).
I'm being a bit silly. Because they have personal values and beliefs that are far more important than these. But I know them because they write about them.
And if you take a stand – Big Green Egg over something else, working out at a resort, or not – then people are either going to flock towards you or away.
They don't mind taking a stand. It helps them galvanize an audience.
How often are you stating what you believe? What you stand for?
Works in Progress
When it comes to content that drives engagement, maybe no content does better than posts about the work before it's complete.
When you see Carey on the road (less in the last year) interviewing people, you know he's doing the homework required before he writes a book. He's doing the work. And when you finally read the book, you know it's the result of the work he did.
When Joy posts videos of her workouts, she's not telling you that you have to do the same. She's showing you the work in progress. She's showing you that it's not magic. When you do the work, you can be sure you'll end up with results.
Both of them value the process. But more importantly, they publish the work in progress. They show you what they're doing and that inspires and helps us.
Surveys from the Field
Carey has a phenomenal podcast. But what's amazing about his interviews is that he's often asking people questions about where they are now and where they've been, for people who aren't there yet.
In other words, he's giving us a view of what's coming up. And that survey from the field because a guiding light that shows us what's up ahead.
I don't know if you ever played video games. But a long time ago I remember my brother playing a video game where the map was black. The only way you saw the map was as you explored it. When you moved into a new area, parts of the map started to appear.
When I listen to the podcast, or read the spotlights that Joy creates as she's talking about the coaches that work under her, I see the space that was previously hidden from me.
I see what they're seeing and learn what they're learning.
Snapshots of Lifestyle
There's one other kind of content that drives engagement that we need to talk about. And it's likely the one that you're least likely to want to create. But it's powerful, especially if you've embraced creating all these other bits of content.
It's the posts that are the results.
When Joy goes dress shopping and publishes posts about the outfits she's trying, we cheer. They look fabulous. She's ahead of me on the journey, but her success suggests I'll get there too.
When Carey is out riding his bike for a million mile ride (ok, maybe it's a bit shorter) or when he's out on the boat, or on a large stage speaking to a huge crowd, it's not bragging. It is joy. He's enjoying himself (as he should). And that inspires us.
I'm not suggesting every post be the “I have an amazing life” post, but if we never write about the results, why would anyone want to do the work?
Defining Success as Engagement
The more I've been thinking about this (and after weeks of reviewing their content), the more I'm convinced that content that doesn't drive engagement will never be the mark of success. In that world, we're publishing just to say we published.
Instead, the way we define success has to be by the engagement we see as a result. And that means learning to create content that drives engagement. Like Carey and Joy do.
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