When small businesses begin to use social media for marketing, they are often disappointed by the response they get. Some of this is due to their approach to really engage their audience through asking questions.
If asking questions is so critical to audience engagement, why aren’t we spending more time and energy on discovering and framing them? It’s probably due to the fact that as a small business we focus on having the “right answer” for our audience, rather than discovering the “right question”; and don’t always understand that discovering the right question is the path to engaging our online community in dialogue and discovery.
It’s actually quite easy to recognize an engaging question when we find one on a social media platform. These are the questions that invite and challenge us to reflect at a deeper level and often stir up emotions that we feel we must share.
Asking a question as simple as, “What do you think?” or “What can we do that could help?” or “What could make a difference?” can have a startling impact on response rate; and lead to creating new knowledge and insight from the community in your social media network.
The important impact with social media is that an engaging question has the capacity to “travel”, that is to spread beyond where it began into larger online networks of conversation throughout a social media community. Questions that travel well are often the key to large-scale exposure, awareness, insight and action.
Here’s how to frame questions you might ask your online audience as you begin to explore the art of asking engaging questions:
- What outcome do you want this question to achieve? What sort of conversation, meanings and feelings do you imagine this question will evoke?
- Is the question relevant to the interests of your online community?
- Is this a real question – a question to which you really don’t know the answer?
- Is this question different enough to evoke a new response?
- What assumptions, values or beliefs are underlying the way this question is worded?
- Is this question likely to generate imagination, engagement, creative action and new opportunities?
- Does this question leave room for new questions to be raised as the initial question is explored?
As conversations unfold, important values that people really care about will start to come up – values like personal growth, mutual respect, community contribution and sharing with others. These responses provide you with valuable insight into your audience’s thinking, allowing you to evolve your questions and improve your future engagement.
So, I’d love to hear what engaging questions have you had the most response to in your social media community?
About the author: Teresa Bassham is the Coach & Boss Lady of Zenworkz Authentic Marketing, and is passionate about educating small business professionals to create their authentic marketing message and attract their ideal customers. She runs local workshops in Northern NSW and coach customers online and by phone – if you would like to attend the next scheduled workshop or request distance coaching online – please contact us.
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