When it comes to companies using social media, brand engagement and customer feedback are two of the most common, and important, campaign focuses. However studies by the American Marketing Association have shown that most marketing teams say they don’t have the staff to appropriately manage all of their social media activity and still perform all of their department’s other responsibilities. This leads what could be an extremely successful campaign to finish half-baked because the appropriate amount of time couldn’t be invested in its execution. Lucky for you there is one incredibly simple, but regularly overlooked, messaging tactic that can significantly improve both social engagement and follower feedback at the same time!
So what is this seemingly magical social marketing tool? It’s asking strategic questions.
The word “strategic” is the key however, and this is where what can and should be a fairly easy part of your campaign needs just a little focus and attention to be effective. Because if the questions you ask don’t integrate with your overall strategy, and you’re just spewing out random sentences to your followers that end with a question mark, your results will be (deservedly) poor because you didn’t take a little time to make sure you’re using the right questions to increase engagement and generate feedback.
So, how do you ask “strategic” questions? There are two main things to consider:
- Use questions to open “knowledge gaps.” In their influential book More Bonuses, authors Home Page outline how making people aware that they are missing important information that could improve their lives causes psychological pain. They quote a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, George Lowenstein, who says curiosity happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge:“These gaps cause pain. When we want to know something but don’t, it’s like having an itch that we need to scratch. To take away the pain, we need to fill the knowledge gap.”
The key implication here is that we need to open these gaps in order to close them later. Everyone has heard of the “eureka!” moment, when new knowledge or understanding falls into place for us. Well, these moments are even more powerful when they have a “Huh?” moment before them, and asking strategic questions is a great way to provide this setup.So how does this help you increase your engagement with your following? You need to ask your questions in a way that makes your audience aware that they don’t have important information that could improve their lives, and also positions you as the resource for them to get this information to fill their knowledge gap.
For example, a company that sells nutrition supplements could ask the question, “Do you struggle with hitting plateaus when you try to lose weight? (The answer for everyone, of course, is “Yes,” so the knowledge gap is opened) Good news! We just found a brand-new study that shows combining these two common supplements can reduce stalls in your progress losing weight. Can you guess what they are? (Not telling them what the supplements are at first and asking them to tell you instead makes them even more aware of their lack of knowledge, because they can’t answer you.) Leave a comment and we’ll post a link to the answer soon!”
This accomplishes three things. First you’ve opened a knowledge gap so your followers are feeling the psychological pain that comes from knowing they lack information that can help them achieve their goals. This will make them curious and increase clicks when you post the link to your site with the answer. Second, because they’re now invested in finding out the answer to your question in order alleviate the pain of consciously not knowing something, your followers will be more likely to leave a comment when you ask. Third, by not posting the link right away you give people the time to comment, instead of just clicking through and skipping the step of leaving a comment to get right to the information they want. If you don’t care about getting comments then you can just post the link right away. Either way, all three of these things increase engagement with your brand.
- Ask your fans about their experiences. After you’ve opened the knowledge gap and followed up with a post or article on your blog that provides the answer, at the end ask your audience for their experience in that post. To continue with the supplement example above, you could ask the audience “Have you had success combining these two supplements to expedite your weight loss? Let us know!” And if you’ve decided to wait to post the link to the post with the answer in order to give people time to comment, make sure you also post a link to answer in the comments of the initial post with the questions so that everyone who has responded to you sees it.Now that you’ve brought your followers on this journey from opening a knowledge gap, building suspense, and then providing them with closure, they are significantly invested in their relationship with you at that moment. Asking them for feedback at this point is effective because they feel like they owe you. You’ve provided them with this valuable information, and they want to show their gratitude. They won’t realize that you subtly manipulated them into feeling that they needed what you were promoting by how you strategically phrased your question, they’ll just be glad they’ve finally found closure to their knowledge gap.At this point they’ll be much more inclined to provide you feedback than if you just ask for it cold. Sure you can still get feedback by asking for it up front, however usually you’ll only get the people who have something to complain about this way, where if you wait until the end of the knowledge gap cycle you’ll be more likely to get all kinds of feedback.