Most content receives little to no engagement. In fact:
- Over 90% of blog posts receive zero traffic.
- Most social media managers say that a good average engagement rate is between 1% and 5%
- 90% of YouTube videos never reach 1,000 views.
Yet plenty of content creators consistently receive millions of views and high engagement.
We analyzed the key factors that separate highly engaging content from average content. In this post, we’ll provide specific tips to help you create engaging content, regardless of your platform.
We’ll also provide specific tips for optimizing your content for engagement on social media, blog, and video content.
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How To Create Engaging Content For Any Platform
Regardless of the platform you’re publishing on, there needs to be substance behind your content idea for it to perform well. So here’s the recipe for creating highly engaging content.
Tip #1: Research Your Target Audience’s Pain Points For Content Ideas
Content marketing is designed to attract your ideal audience by answering their questions and providing solutions to their problems.
While most content marketing strategies begin by discussing challenges their audience faces, the creators often run out of content ideas, and the content topics stray farther and farther from the core topic that’s interesting to their audience.
As a result, the content becomes less effective as their audience finds it less relevant and quits engaging.
Many content creators also tend to become bored with the topic and begin covering other parallel topics to satisfy their own desires as a creator. Unfortunately, your audience probably only consumes your content for a particular topic, so switching topics can kill audience engagement.
Instead, stay on topic and use your content as a medium to answer commonly asked questions from your audience.
To learn about what your audience is talking about and their pain points, you can:
- Use a social listening tool: Tools like Awario and Brand24 allow you to track keywords online. You can also set up alerts to instantly know about important conversations in your industry.
- Use an audience intelligence tool: You can use a tool like SparkToro to discover the media your audience consumes and where they hang out online. This information is very valuable as you can then join those conversations and communicate with them one on one. Even if you don’t use an audience intelligence tool to discover where your audience is congregating, be sure to
- Talk to your audience: Finally, get on the phone with your audience and talk to them about their pain points and problems. Talking to your audience one on one is often much more telling as you can get to the bottom of what they’re struggling with by asking follow up questions. If you can’t get on the phone with them, at least send a survey to your email list asking about their pain points.
Tip #2: Create Content That Goes Beyond Best Practice Advice
Another common mistake many people make when creating content is providing “best practice” advice.
The problem is that all of your competitors are also discussing the same best practice advice, and there’s a good chance your audience has already tried all of that advice and is still struggling to get results.
For example, the best practice advice for most link building strategies is to simply send personalized guest post pitches.
Yet that advice typically results in very low engagement rates. So even though it’s a commonly accepted “best practice” strategy, it’s still likely not the best advice for earning backlinks.
So as you’re creating content, address the problems with traditional best practice and then draw from personal stories, case studies, and real data to offer better solutions to the problem.
The essence of truly high-quality content isn’t about the formatting, grammar, or polish – it’s about the substance of the advice. If your advice consistently solves the audience’s problem more effectively than any of your competitors’ content, you’ll soon be viewed as a thought leader.
Tip #3: A/B Test Your Hook
Once you’ve got a great piece of content, you still need to catch the reader’s attention so that they actually pause and consume your content.
Without a good hook, the rest of your content’s substance won’t matter.
The good news is that you can always test different hooks. We have a separate post on crafting excellent hooks, though there are a few angles you can use to test your hooks:
As you’re crafting your hook, be sure to keep it short and get to the meat of your content idea quickly. If your opening is too long, you’ll lose your audience’s interest quickly.
To measure the effectiveness of your hook, here are some of the metrics you can track:
- Blog Posts: Click through rate and page on time
- Video content: Watch time
- Social media content: Engagement and likes
Tip #4: Use Conversational Tone And Visuals
Nobody likes reading or listening to textbook-style content, so keep the tone of your content conversational. In fact, if there’s any friction in understanding the information in your content, your audience will just leave your content.
This is why it’s helpful to use visuals, like infographics, graphs, and charts, as they can convey much more information with the least effort.
Another benefit of using conversational language is that it helps you develop a stronger relationship with your target audience faster. And the faster your audience trusts you, the faster you’ll be able to convert them into customers.
An excellent example of a blog that writes with a conversational tone is Backlinko. You can see in the screenshot below that the content in this post is written in first person, the sentences are very short and to the point, and they include plenty of graphics:
If you’re filming content, speak using conversational language. Even if you’re covering a professional topic, like law, health, or finance, you can still use straightforward, simple language.
Andrew Huberman’s podcast, Huberman Lab, is an excellent example of this. Even though his brand has a very professional tone, he still uses the most simplistic, conversational language possible.
Tip #5: Repeat And Iterate On What Works
Finally, once you find a particular type of content or content idea that resonates with your audience, double down on creating more content similar to it.
Many content creators find something that works and then try other new things to replicate the results. However, your top performing content is the recipe for success with your target audience, so create more content using that format and on that topic.
You can even republish the exact same content multiple times. Only a portion of your audience likely sees your content the first time you publish it, and even if they did see it the first time you published it, there’s a good chance that they forgot about it, so reposting it will likely help you achieve the same great results.
If you’re posting evergreen content, be sure to also update your top performing content as it begins to lose traction.
Now that we’ve established a framework for creating great content that engages your audience, here are a few tips specific to various content publishing platforms.
How To Create Engaging Social Media Content
Here are the top five tips for creating social media content that drives engagement and, more importantly, helps you build a loyal audience.
Tip #1: Post Consistently With The Same Format
Unlike some other content formats, it’s essential to post consistently on social media as most posts are only shown in your audience’s feed for hours.
Therefore, if you aren’t posting content consistently, your audience will forget who you are and quit engaging. To ensure you’re consistently posting content, create a content calendar using a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social and then assign different steps of the content creation process to various team members.
Or, if you’re doing all of it yourself, create milestone deadlines for yourself. For example, complete the written content by a certain date and then complete the graphics for the post on a specific date.
Tip #2: Repurpose Top Performing Content
Social media content requires you to post consistently because the lifespan of a post is only a few days. However, this also means you can repost the exact same content every few months.
So track your engagement analytics and identify the posts that generated the most engagement and then plan to repost three to five of those posts per month.
For example, if you’re planning content for April, look at the content that performed the best in January. Then, take January’s top four performing posts and schedule them to be published again during April.
Tip #3: Use The Platform’s Preferred Content Format
When social media platforms release a new feature, they tend to promote content using that feature. For example, LinkedIn favored showing carousels when it first released the feature. So creating more carousel content would help you achieve more reach.
Therefore, pay attention to new feature releases on each social media platform and then use those features in your content.
Tip #4: Engage With Your Audience
Social media is called “social” for a reason. It’s designed to be a two-way engagement platform, so be sure to respond to comments on your post to build legitimate relationships with your audience.
You can also join groups for your audience on that platform and participate in those discussions. For example, Examine.com earned its initial user base from Reddit because the founder consistently participated in conversations with their ideal audience.
Here’s a great example of how you can jump in and answer your audience’s questions.
Tip #5: Study Competitors’ and Influencers’ Top Performing Content
Finally, if a specific topic or type of content is working for your competitors, don’t try to reinvent the wheel – just use that as inspiration for your content strategy.
You can also look at the content that major influencers in your industry are discussing and use those topics as inspiration. Better yet, offer to do a content collaboration with them.
You can use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify the most popular influencers in your industry and even track their top performing content.
You can also study some of the best personal branding examples we’ve curated and analyzed in a separate blog post.
How To Create Engaging Blog Content
Bog content, and specifically SEO-driven blog content, has earned a reputation for being boring and shallow. However, you can still create content that’s both engaging and well-optimized for search engines by using the tips below.
Tip #1: Interview An Expert Or Use Real Experiences
Most companies just hire a freelance writer or use ChatGPT to create their content, yet neither freelancers or ChatGPT have experience solving the reader’s problems.
Instead of just asking a freelance writer to write generic advice in a blog article, have them interview an expert who can add anecdotal stories, experiences, and expert insights to the article.
For example, you’ll notice that this overview of a specific beach provides very generic information that isn’t actually that helpful or insightful for someone planning a trip:
In contrast, this post is clearly written by a traveler who has personally visited this beach, and it offers much more insightful information, such as:
- Why it’s a great place for families
- Insights from locals they talked to (why it’s mostly filled with tourists)
- The vibe of the beach (it’s more of a party place and not great if you want a quiet getaway)
- The music at the local cafes is really loud
Even though the grammar of the second example is less polished, it is much more engaging as it offers much more helpful information and is written in a conversational tone that is easy to read.
Unfortunately, real experts rarely have time to do keyword research, write the content, and optimize the content for SEO. So instead, just have your freelance writers interview experts and then distill those insights into well-optimized blog posts that are easy to read.
Tip #2: Invest In Copywriting Skills
There are plenty of copywriting tips to keep readers engaged, but the real essence of great copywriting is addressing the specific problems your audience is facing, explaining why their current method for solving the problem isn’t working, and then offering a more effective solution.
Many people believe you have to have outstanding storytelling skills or excellent sentence structure to keep a person’s attention, but the reality is that the most interesting thing to your reader is the solution to their problem.
So just providing a great solution will make your copy more compelling than about 90% of the content online.
However, you can use copywriting techniques to frame the solution in a more compelling format.
To do this, use the following framework:
When you introduce the pain points, echo the exact method users are currently using that is ineffective and explain why it’s ineffective. The more specific, the better, as this will help you build rapport and they’ll be much more convinced that your proposed solution is effective.
To further prove the credibility of your proposed solution, include examples or case studies. That makes your argument more convincing, and it also helps the reader better understand the solution.
Here’s an example of copywriting following this framework:
So as you’re creating your copy, use this framework. You can also ask the experts you interview to give you a more detailed explanation of the problems most people encounter with the typical “best practice” advice.
Tip #3: Include Visuals And Graphics
Another great way to keep readers engaged and deliver a better user experience is to add visuals and graphics.
Even as you scan this post, you can see that the graphic above highlighting the “pain point > solution > proof” framework makes the concept much easier to understand than if I just wrote the example using text.
Contrary to popular belief, the more graphics you include in your content, the more likely people are to actually pause and read it.
You can also use a free tool like Canva to create your graphics.
Tip #4: Use An Easy-To-Read Blog Structure
Similar to incorporating graphics, carefully laying out the structure of your content to make it easier to skim will also help increase engagement.
Some tips to make it easier to read include:
- Adding bullet points
- Bolding and italicizing important phrases
- Using short sentences and keeping paragraphs under 3-5 lines
- Using subheadings
- Adding a sticky table of contents
Tip #5: Turn On Blog Comments
Monitoring spam comments may be annoying, but people love interacting with the content creators they follow. So even though most blogs don’t offer comments today, consider turning the comments section back on.
In addition, your readers’ comments are excellent feedback on your content. You’ll also be able to better understand what content topics resonate with them, their pain points, and who your content attracts.
User generated content like blog comments are also excellent for SEO, as Google is prioritizing showing more humanistic content.
How To Create Engaging Video Content
Here are a few specific tips to make your video content more engaging.
Tip #1: Create More Attractive Thumbnails
Your thumbnail is the main variable people use to judge which video to click on. Unfortunately, if people don’t click on your thumbnail, it won’t matter how great the content in the video is as they’ll never see it.
So spend time testing your thumbnails to increase your click through rates.
You can use a tool like TubeBuddy to run A/B tests on your thumbnails.
Some best practice advice for creating great thumbnails includes:
- Use bright colors
- Include a person
- Ideally the person should have an emotive expression (wide eyes, surprised, etc.)
- Include a version of the title on the thumbnail
Here are some examples from Mr. Beast:
Tip #2: Verbally Ask For Engagement
If you want your video to drive more organic traffic, all algorithms like to see that it generates a lot of interaction, such as likes and comments.
So in your video, ask your audience to comment or like the video.
When you ask them to comment, give them a specific question. This can help increase engagement because most people won’t know what to say and therefore won’t comment at all.
Ideally, ask them for their opinion on a topic. People love sharing their ideas and thoughts, so this strategy performs very well.
Some examples of simple comment asks you can make include:
- “Comment below what tips you think I missed.”
- “Comment below with your suggestions.”
- “Comment below with your experience with X.”
Tip #3: Use Humor And Authenticity
A key reason videos perform so well is that people prefer interacting with other people who share their authentic experiences.
So use this to your advantage. Instead of trying to make the video perfectly professional, add your own personality into it when appropriate. If you aren’t a naturally funny person, you don’t need to force it, but let your authentic self shine through.
Sean Casey is a fitness influencer who is well known for his static tone of voice and down-to-earth advice. Instead of trying to be funny, he lets his natural personality shine through, and it actually makes the videos quite entertaining:
Even if you work in a very professional field, like legal or medicine, you can still be casual and professional.
The key is to be relatable.
Tip #4: Use Structure And Concise Tips
One of the biggest problems with audio-based content is that people just talk without any structure.
This can make it very difficult for people to follow your train of thought. So before creating video content, sit down and organize the video into a concise format, as you would with a blog post.
You can also tell the audience what you’re going to cover later in the video and add teasers throughout of topics and tips you’ll provide later to keep them watching and engaged.
If you’re using YouTube, use the chapters to allow your audience to skip through to the sections that are most relevant to them.
Tip #5: Continuously Change The Image View
People who watch videos are often visual learners, so make the content visually engaging by constantly shifting the camera view and zooming in and out.
This is a key reason why podcasts tend to have longer watch times on podcast platforms than video platforms, as there isn’t really anything to visually watch other than the person talking on video.
If your video is just you talking, consider adding overlay graphics, text-based tips/quotes, and other visual elements to keep users engaged.
Codie Sanchez’s channel is an excellent example of how you can transform static talking videos into visually engaging content:
Start Creating Visually Engaging Content Now
The tips in this post should be more than enough to help you get started creating visually engaging content, but if you want to take your content marketing skills to the next level, consider joining the Copyblogger Academy.
It’s run by the owners of Copyblogger and you’ll be able to brainstorm content ideas and receive feedback from both us and peers in the academy. You’ll also have access to courses on content marketing and copywriting, and exclusive content, like guest interviews.
Alternatively, if you’d rather have someone else create engaging content for you, consider reaching out to the Digital Commerce Partners. This is the team behind Copyblogger, and they can execute the entire content creation process for you.