The people who make it farthest in online content creation are usually those who listen to their audience. Listening to your audience will give you ideas for content, products, and services that people actually need and want, and are thus more likely to buy. Listening to your audience also tends to grow your audience exponentially, as it will give your audience a sense that they matter and that they’ve taken part in something, which makes them more likely to share your website.
Here’s a few ways to get started listening to your audience today:
First, make it easy for them to contact you. If someone has a thought, a question, or just wants to say thank you, but they can’t figure out how easily and quickly, then they’ll most likely give up. That’s something that you definitely don’t want to happen. Instead, have a “contact” page on your website, that has a form or lists your email address. Consider listing your phone number as well; many people won’t use it, but the fact that you’ve listed it adds to your credibility. Of course, don’t list your phone number if you won’t actually pick up when someone calls!
Use Twitter. Twitter is easier for many people to use than email, and it’s usually easier to find a Twitter account handle than an email address. If you have a Twitter account and actually use it, replying to questions and comments that you receive through it, it shows in a very public way that you care about what your readers have to say. Make sure to always reply courteously so that you’re creating a good image for yourself.
Use Facebook. The benefits of having a Facebook account are similar to those of using Twitter, but it’s probably a good idea to have both a Twitter account and a Facebook page for your website, as many people use one but don’t use the other.
Create surveys and regularly ask them questions. This is a great way to come up with product or content ideas. Make sure to ask specific questions and keep the number of questions short, as that will drastically increase the amount of people who respond to the survey. Show your audience that you’re listening to the responses by creating what they ask for or by mentioning the results of the survey. Regularly asking your audience to tell you what they want shows them that you value their time and attention.
Don’t turn off your blog comments. Many people are turning off their blog comments nowadays, but it’s still a controversial decision. However, if you want to foster discussion and community, and show your audience that you listen to them and care about their input, turning off blog comments probably isn’t the best way to go. There’s a certain amount of administration time that comes with having blog comments – getting rid of spam, for example – but it’s also one of the easiest ways for your audience members to get in touch with you.