HOW TO: Ask Questions that Get People Talking Online

Ask Questions

When it comes to creating engagement online, one technique to try is asking compelling questions of your fans and followers. Questions are great for a variety of content marketing and social media strategies and can help your content spread and get people to engage with you online. Using questions in your engagement strategy can range from the complex survey to the simple status update. For example, we recently asked our Facebook fans what social media site they use most on the weekends, generating an interesting discussion in the comments. You can also use tools like Facebook Questions or Twitpoll to ask questions online. Not sure where questions play a part in your content strategy? Questions can be helpful for:

  • Writing powerful content headlines
  • Creating polls and surveys
  • Generating social engagement
  • Closing blog posts
  • Participating on Q&A sites

Developing Engaging Questions
So, how can you make sure the questions you’re using will move the needle and generate engagement, likes, and shares? Here are a few tried-and-true strategies to develop strong questions – mix and match these different strategies to create an engaging mix of questions to keep your audience engaged:

Timely –People love talking about whatever’s top-of-mind in the news or pop culture. So, keep a pulse on what’s going on, and integrate timely topics into your questions. You can also find information on hot topics people are searching for under Google’s Hot Searches report or see what people near you geographically are tweeting about real-time about using Trendsmap.

Topical – For every business, there will be a set of themes or topics that relate to your business in general or that customers of that business type would be interested in. Identify these topics so you can generate questions of interest around those general concepts. For example, customers of a spa might be interested in beauty topics, but also health, fitness, fashion, entertainment, or stress relief. Identifying a variety of topics to ask questions about will help you keep your core audience in mind, making your engagement fresh and authentic.

Personal – Did you know that one of the top reasons people use social media is to share information about themselves online? People want to express their identities and are aware that what they say and share online shapes how other people see them. So, create questions and answers that enable people to share about themselves with the world. For example, a restaurant could ask people what their favorite dessert is or how they prefer their coffee. When people answer these types of questions, they’re not just sharing information, they’re expressing themselves online. When asking questions of this type, be careful not to venture into deeply personal or private territory.

Relevant – Want to know what your customers, fans, and followers think about specific issues that are highly relevant to your business? Social media can be a great resource for quick and easy research. So, consider asking questions every once in a while that can help you improve your business, like what products or services people love, when they use them, or what they recommend to their friends.

Positional – Asking questions that ask people to share their opinion online is an art, and it is certainly not for everyone. It can generate a healthy response and lots of engagement, but be ready, because it can also generate a firestorm you may or may not want to handle! If you want to tread into positional topics or questions, remember the old adage of steering clear of politics, sex, and religion at the dinner table to avoid bitter controversy. Instead, opt for questions that ask people to take a stance on a lighter matter, like which sports team will win the big game or if the iPhone or Android platform is superior.

Tips for Increasing Engagement

  • Keep it brief. Make questions short, sweet, and simple.
  • Provide simple answers. For polls and surveys, make sure the options you provide are clear and easy to understand.
  • Use a mix of question types. Don’t just stick with one question type. Instead, use a mix of strategies that appeal to different types of customers or fans.
  • Maximize exposure. When you create a poll or survey, share it across multiple sites to generate higher response rates.
  • Make it shareable. The best questions, polls, and surveys get lots of people talking. So, make sure your fans and followers can easily share your questions with their social graph.

Do you use questions as a strategy to generate engagement in your content marketing or social media strategy? What techniques do you use to create compelling questions that get people talking online?

Tiffany Monhollon

Tiffany Monhollon is an award-winning content, community, and social media marketing strategist who is passionate about helping businesses and professionals succeed online, currently serving as Director of Content Marketing at ReachLocal. She develops integrated strategies from the ground up, incorporating content, community, and social tactics to deliver online marketing, search optimization, social engagement, and reputation management results. She speaks and writes about online marketing and social media for sites like Entrepreneuer, MarketingProfs, Small Business Trends, Media Post, Social Media Today, Business 2 Community, and the ReachLocal Online Marketing blog.

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