According to Chris Malone, the Chief Advisory Officer of The Relational Capital Group (2011), consumers are exposed to as many as 30,000 brand messages a day. (No, that number was not a typo.)
In this era of social media and content marketing, consumers are absorbing an unbelievable amount of brand information every day, so it's imperative for your business to not only capture audience attention but that you develop a relationship with these followers by engaging with them.
Yet, according to research from the American Marketing Association most marketing teams say they are overwhelmed and desperate for a simple hook to cut down on the time demands of their social media campaigns.
Fortunately, there an incredible easy strategy for marketing teams to implement does exist. This seemingly magical tool will not only significantly improve social engagement from your fans, but it can simultaneously be used to get follower feedback!
So what is this guaranteed tactic that you need to incorporate in your current social media strategy? It’s asking strategic questions.
Like any good suspense novel, social media posts should build suspense and then offer a valued solution. However, the solution must be beneficial to your consumer's lives. After providing your target market with valuable information, you can then position yourself to request valuable feedback in return.
Build Engagement By Building Curiosity
In the book Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath, the authors explain that you can create psychological pain by asking questions that open "knowledge gaps" to build suspense. It's in our nature to seek relief from curiosity, and, even more so, from suspense. To effectively build suspense it's important to make your audience aware of the fact that they do not have information that is of value to them and, thereby, peak their interest. Once you open that knowledge gap, you need to put yourself in the position as the resouce that's able to provide the necessary information to fill in the gap.
Let’s look at the following illustration:
Orangetheory Fitness offers its customers a weight loss exercise routine that is famed for eliminating plateaus. If consumers are visiting Orangetheory Fitness’ social media site, they are likely seeking weight loss help and to reduce weight loss plateaus. Thus, Orangetheory fitness might inquire: “Do you find yourself hitting a plateau in your struggle to lose weight?” (The answer for the majority of people following Orangetheory Fitness will be "Yes" which opens the knowledge gap.)
With this knowledge gap introduction, your audience will experience a psychological uneasiness that they want relieved.
We can push this even further. Continuing the example above, Orangetheory can continue the conversation with the following: “Orangetheory Fitness has come up with a new plateau-busting workout using moves that you're probably already familiar with. Can you guess wha they are?” (Not telling your audience what the exercise moves are and then asking them for an answer will makes your followers even more aware of the fact that they're lacking in knowledge.)
These strategic questions help to open a knowledge gap; due to the psychological pain that comes from your audience's lack of information, they'll be more apt to click on any links that you share that can help with answering the questions you've posed. (You can hold off on posting links immediately if you want to give people some time to comment. If you just care about click throughts, then you can post the link(s) right away).
Additionally, you'll find that because your audience invested their time in learning the answer to your question, they'll be more likely to respond to you when you ask. Either way, asking a strategic question will increase engagement with your brand.
Follow up: Gather Qualitative Information Through Engagement
Now that you have provided consumers with valuable information (filled in their knowledge gap) and relieved their psychological uneasiness (suspense), you can ask for something in return from your now grateful audience. This may take the form of an inquiry such as “How has Orangetheory helped you eliminate plateaus? We’d love to hear your transformation experiences!”
Because your audience has invested a lot into their relationship with you - from being made aware of their lack of knowledge, to continuing the suspense, to finally providing them with closure by way of providing them with valuable information - they'll be more willing to leave you feedback as opposed to asking for it cold.
Your followers won't realize that they've been subtly manipulated throughout this entire process - they'll just be grateful for finding closure to their knowledge gap which makes it a perfect time to ask for feedback. You're more likely to receive feedback through this cycle as opposed to asking for it cold.
While there's no doubt that you can get user feedback by just asking for it up front, you'll find that if you follow through with this knowledge gap cycle, by the end of it, you’re more likely to get all kinds of feedback, particularly positive feedback.
In our case, Orangetheory has set itself up to enjoy the possibility of positive brand testimonies as well as collect information about their unmet target market needs, all while increasing brand engagement.