To work optimally, audience development has to work both short term and long term. Short term audience engagement has more of an unexpected element to it. For example, you may post a video that goes viral, or your site may become particularly relevant to something that makes big headlines.
For short term audience engagement, you need to stay on top of trends (like hashtags and new social media channels) and bring in new visitors. With long term audience engagement, you concentrate on meeting the needs of your audience through better access, appealing site features like custom job boards, and a plan to keep your site fresh and relevant long term. Here are four audience development strategies that are designed to go the distance for your site.
1. Encourage Participation and Interaction
People have pronounced social media sites ”fads” for years now. While some social media sites have come and gone, the concept of social media itself is only getting stronger. That’s because people want their voices to be heard, and social media sites provide excellent ways to do that. Your website’s social media strategy should concentrate on making content easily shareable, and on interacting with content consumers through social media conversations, online forums, and comment threads on blog posts. When your audience members know they have an outlet for their thoughts, audience engagement goes up and the bonds of your online community strengthen. And audience engagement and a strong sense of community work to the benefit of your site over the long term.
2. Package Content ”To Go”
People consume content today the way they consume a lot of other things: on the go. Smartphone and tablet use shows no signs of abating any time soon, as device owners discover new and convenient uses for their mobile gear. By having a mobile and/or tablet app, or a mobile version of your site, you give people the content they want, whenever they want it. People like the idea of staying connected with their favorite sites no matter what time of day it is and no matter what type of device they’re using to reach content.
3. Incorporate Long Tail Keywords into Your Keyword Strategy
Long tail keywords are like a low-cost insurance policy for your content. These keywords are generally phrases that make highly searched keywords more specific, and while they may not be searched on frequently today, they could become very popular in the right online conditions. Ranking highly for long tail keywords helps ensure that over the long term, people will slowly but surely keep finding your site. While it isn’t as noticeable a boost to audience development as an overnight viral article or video, over months and years, all those visits that come from long tail keywords add up, ensuring that you grab readers consistently, even if you don’t grab them in large numbers at once.
4. Don’t Let Your Site Get Stale
Visitors rapidly become disappointed when they visit your site and see the same content up from last week or a week before. It doesn’t take long before they don’t bother visiting anymore. Your content must be of high quality, of course, but it needs to be refreshed regularly too. That’s one reason why a blog is such a good audience development tool. Blogs also help keep your site fresh when people regularly interact in blog comment threads. Other methods for keeping your site from going stale include making up an editorial calendar to ensure a strong pipeline of content, and turning to revenue development features like custom job boards, which are updated regularly and keep readers coming back.
Every website owner dreams of a major viral hit article or video that takes their site from obscurity to fame overnight, but you can’t focus all your audience development efforts on short term gain. Taking the long view helps ensure a steady stream of increasing traffic, more effective revenue development efforts, and that you’ll be ready if you ever do experience viral popularity overnight.
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