The best conversations include give and take. Whether a conversation is held between two teenage girls just getting to know each other on the first day of high school, or two veteran military buddies catching up on the weekend, conversations need to be about exchanging information.
A conversation’s quality can determine a relationship – for instance, return to the example of the girls getting to know each other. If one is uninterested and unresponsive, it’s likely they won’t be acquainted very long. However, if both give and take information and ask for information in return, they could potentially be best friends for life.
The key word here is ask. Questions are how we as a species learn more about one another. When we’re confronted with information we’d like to know more about, we ask questions. Why? What? Who? How? Where? When? This means an exchange of information is taking place – and that’s engagement in a nutshell.
In the business sense, engagement is something every marketer hopes for. When customers engage with a business, leads, traffic and sales all go up. What’s the best way to get customers engaged? Ask them questions.
A Business Game Show
Smart Passive Income writer Pat Flynn makes a really perfect point in his 2015 article on questions for engagement. He brings up how, when you watch a game show, you very likely answer the questions asked out loud – even if the game show host can’t hear you and you aren’t competing, you have a desire to answer the question and be right, thus rewarded.
The takeaway? People love to answer questions, because answering a question shows off their intelligence. People love to be right. Consumers are people. Therefore consumers love to be right.
You may ask what being correct has to do with engagement – it’s not like businesses will be asking their audience what time it is or what year the Berlin Wall came down. Put simply, engagement questions often don’t have a right answer, but this is actually even better for businesses. When there is not a strictly right answer, every answer becomes right in its own way. A person is much more willing to speak up and share if they believe there is no repercussion instead of sitting on their hands, afraid to say the wrong thing.
The Kinds of Questions to Ask
Different brand types have the privilege of asking different consumer audience different types of questions. For instance, check out any number of style or fashion related businesses on Instagram and you’ll find a myriad of engagement questions about what the consumer audience thinks of this fall trend or how they like to wear their scarves in the winter. These are very personal questions that relate to the brand itself. Remove the fashion aspect – how can your brand create a conversation with customers?
Questions don’t have to be about personal experience, either. Shake things up and ask for opinions, preferences or shows of hands. Look at the first subheading on this Kissmetrics blog for great examples of types of questions and how you can craft sentences surrounding their intended purpose.
Remember that questions aren’t always about sales and they don’t have to be serious. Engagement is about bonding with customers and potential clients, boosting visibility and giving a human quality to a business. Fun questions that start conversations do just that. Sales and leads will come later – how can you generate sales if no one is aware of your business and/or doesn’t identify with its brand?
Questions create conversations, and some first time business owners shy away from this personal connection. Don’t. Businesses that show their human side are businesses that succeed. Try it right now – get on social media and ask a question. You’ll be surprised by how many responses you’ll get.
Looking for more ideas? Check out this article on how you can get the most value out of your marketing content.