Every month this year, I’ve decided to take on a new eating challenge. In January, I (mostly) gave up chocolate. In February, I gave up all microwave food. This past month, I gave up my beloved Pepsi. For April, I’m trying to eat raw, which is proving highly interesting and a bit scary.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m challenging myself in these ways. I want to get healthier. That’s one thing. But also, I think that we all take for granted how EASY it is to get food and stuff it into our mouths. I love enjoying flavors. I love cooking, in fact. But because there is so much easy food, I just kind of, well, eat. It works. It keeps me nourished. But is it the best way? I am not convinced 100% that it is.
I bring this up because I have noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in the blogosphere, and it is disconcerting from an engagement point of view. The trend is to title your blog so that people are a) immediately on the defensive and b) immediately working under the assumption that you are going to set them right. You’ve probably seen these headlines. You know, stuff like:
“I’m going to slap you silly if you keep doing this one thing”
“The best way to make me want to rip off your face”
“I am calling crap on you calling crap on me calling crap.”
Yes, these posts tend to do well, at least in terms of getting retweeted in the land of Twitter. But is this really the best way to communicate with people?
A few hard truths
I’m going to tell you a very big secret. Are you ready?
You don’t know everything. And in fact, you never will.
Here are some other hard truths that you might want to consider.
• Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for me
• Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean other people will dislike the same thing
• Just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean other folks will share your passion
I know, ouch, right? The thing is, we all know this stuff in our heads, and yet we continue to talk *at* people as if all of these inconvenient truths (thanks Al Gore) didn’t exist. It’s not pretty. Do you really want to approach someone who is new to you and/or your blog and say, “Hi, you are stupid. I am smart. Sit and learn”? Maybe you do. But it might not get you too far in the world of engagement.
The Engagement Style Blog
Here’s another little thing to think about as you see these controversial or subversive headlines float by in your Twitter stream. People might retweet that post just because they think the headline is abrasive enough to get THEM retweeted. They might not even read your post. For the purposes of engagement, this isn’t really the strongest path to take, right?
So how can you entice people to read your blog without making them want to beg you for forgiveness? Do you have to be ultra-conservative and kinda boring? Well, you *could* go that route, but here’s more what I’m thinking about. And you’re going to be shocked, so you might want to sit down.
Write your posts and your headlines as if you were talking to an actual person sitting right there in front of you.
Or better yet, write a post the way you would want someone else to talk to you.
That’s really the biggest step towards writing posts that help you engage with people. Talk to people. Converse. This is more challenging than it sounds. When else in life have you gotten a platform to tell people, nay, to impress upon people your way of thinking? But reel that megaphone in a bit. You might also want to reel in your crap-ometer, your BS-ometer, and your “the best way is”-ometer.
Try a new way of cooking
Do you find yourself using subversive or controversial headlines a lot to bring traffic to your blog? Do you find that you are taking on a preachy or teachy tonality in your posts? If so, maybe try to shake it up a little bit. Try some other ways of talking to people. What happens? Do your tweets and comments go up or down? Do your comments get longer or shorter? Maybe try it for one or two posts and see what happens. What you are doing is probably working, and it probably isn’t wrong. But it might not be right, either. At least not all the time.
What do you think?
This is post #21 in The Engagement Series. We’re 1/5 of the way through (officially) 🙂 Is this helping you? If not, let me know how I can do better!
Image by Rob Owen-Wahl. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lockstockb