The following post is an entry by one of our spectacular finalists in our Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest. Finalists showcase their ideas, and whoever gets the most traction (i.e. comments and social shares) within five days of publication will be crowned the winner! And commenters can win prizes too, so check out the rules and enjoy the post!
Consider a photograph of a person caught in a shark’s mouth in open waters.
Gruesome, yes, but where does your eye go?
Not to the churning water, not even to the shark’s fearsome teeth.
No, most people would fix on the face of the trapped person. Our empathetic nerves would trigger, we’d sense some of the pain, some of the fear, some of the horror. We do that because we are human, and our humanness first reaches out to other humans.
Consider a more benign picture, say one of those great Bierstadt western panorama paintings, which often depict towering cliff-sides falling to a deep river valley, one filled with gigantic trees, with a tiny rider on horseback on the valley floor. Where does your eye rest? Indeed the vast cliffs get attention, as does the rushing river, but the eye-and the heart-go to the rider. What is he doing in that vast space? How does he feel? You wonder this because you project your own self, your own vulnerable sense of place in an open world into the place of that rider.
You do it because you are human-you share the boldness and the foreboding.
Those feelings are threaded inextricably through our nature, from endless iteration from hunter-and-gatherer times, where cooperation proved to be key to move the individual, family and the group forward. And what does this have to do with engagement? Just this: there are a thousand and one SEO tricks, a hundred headline hacks, and ebook giveaways by the gangham. But before all that, before all the strategies and the schemes is a basic: being more human with your audience is more engaging than a bushel of WordPress plug-ins.
Pray tell, how does one be more human with their audience? No rules, but just a few thoughts: