How Not to Lose Your Audience

Congratulations. You’ve created great content, whether it’s a website or a blog, and built an audience for it. Now, how do you continue to package the content so readers will consume it, engage with it, share it, and come back for more? At the core, the question is how do you get people to keep paying attention to your content?

15 Things that alienate an audience and how to avoid them

Here are fifteen things that can alienate your audience and how to fix them.

  1. Stay away. To keep your audience engaged and returning for more, you must show up on a regular basis. FIX: Have a set publishing schedule so readers who don’t want to get pushed your content know when to expect it.
  2. Be boring and repetitive. Prospective readers need a reason to spend their precious time on your content. If you give them the same information that’s available on many other sites, why should they read your content? FIX: Provide fresh content. Use an editorial calendar to schedule publishing and organize category coverage. Diversify your topic offering. Cover different topics related to your niche on different days. For additional help, here are  125 free blog topics and 99 free blog titles.
  3. Get behind your pulpit and preach. Even if your content or blog is an opinion platform, readers don’t like to be lectured to. So get off of your soapbox. FIX: Assume that your readers are your peers. Compose your content like you’re having a conversation with them.
  4. Veer from your content’s focus. While it’s important to provide an array of content for your audience, you can’t just write about whatever happens to pop into your mind or is a trending topic. FIX: Stick to your niche topic. It’s okay to write an occasional piece about an important news item but don’t make it a habit.
  5. Wait for inspiration. Many blogger believe that they should only write when the inspiration fairy visits. FIX: Show up at the computer screen on a regular basis to build your audience and keep them coming back for more. To help, here’s how to overcome blank post syndrome.
  6. Make promises you can’t keep. Every writer or blogger wants to make their readers happy and in their excitement may make commitments they can’t keep. The problem is that this can tarnish your image and cause readers to lose faith in your writing. FIX: Under promise and over deliver. In terms of your writing, check your facts and reference the original content’s source. Don’t pass someone else’ content off as your own.
  7. Be a shill for a business or idea. Readers want to be able to connect with you. If your website or blog is covered with ads that make it difficult to find your gems of information, they may leave without reading your content. FIX: Incorporate honesty and transparency, which are important elements of social media, into your content to build customer trust.
  8. Loose your human voice. As humans, we’ve been trained to listen to the human voice, especially when it tells stories with a beginning, middle and end. FIX: Strip your writing of the corporate-speak.  Your writing should sound like the way real humans talk.
  9. Ignore the eye candy. Make your content visually entertaining so readers have somewhere to focus. FIX: Use related images and other graphic devices to attract readers’ attention. Make your content accommodate other social media formats such as photographs, videos, audio, PDF, and PowerPoint presentations.
  10. Use blocks of endless text. If your content is big chunks of indigestible information, readers will move on to something that’s easier to consume. FIX: Make your content scanable. Use short paragraphs and bold highlighting to guide readers.
  11. Turn off all the lights. You must show that there’s someone home. Provide telltale signs that there’s life on your website or blog. FIX: In addition to publishing regularly, include your Twitter stream and answer reader comments.
  12. Impede reader engagement. If you’re like most writers and bloggers, you want some form of reader feedback. Bear in mind that only a small percentage of users are willing to engage at some level. FIX: Clear roadblocks to reader engagement. Make it easy to comment on a blog post or email the author. Test wording for calls-to-action.
  13. Make it difficult to register or buy. One of the goals of most writers, especially bloggers is to get readers to take some action towards purchase. FIX: Incorporate targeted text and links to drive prospects to purchase pages on your site. Test your purchase or registration site.
  14. Don’t share the love. Readers don’t like writers who are self-involved. FIX: Don’t only write about yourself. Publicly acknowledge the contributors and sources. Support members of your social media tribe’s efforts.
  15. Forget the fun. Everyone wants to read something new and exciting. It’s easier to learn from someone with fun energy than from someone who just drones endlessly. FIX: Incorporate stories into your content that listeners can identify with. They’ve been trained to follow them since they were small.

Want to keep your audience coming back for more? Then offer them the kind of interesting, varied content they need to engage their minds. Provide them with the tools to enable them to share the content and contribute to the conversation.

What other ways to not lose your audience would you add to this list? Please add your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here’s tip of my hat to Peggy Fitzpatrick for inspiring this post with her comment on Sunday’s BlogChat.

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Photo credit: Batmoo via Flickr

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