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3 Meaningful Ways to Connect with Your Online Community

We had 30 minutes to kill before the next bus to Chatsworth, so we started making our way to a coffee shop around the corner.

Before going in, I noticed a man in a big green coat and checkered Sherlock Holmes hat talking to my boyfriend.

He had just arrived from Baslow, a town over, and stopped to chat with my boyfriend, Alex, about his camera and photography.

After checking his watch and waving for us to follow him across the street, he said he’d love to treat us to coffee before meeting his friend.

He led us through a nearby hotel lobby, telling everyone hello along the way (he even knew their names), and offered us to take a seat while he added coal to the fire.

My boyfriend and I were smiling as we sat down, both thinking, “He is so nice! This never happens in London!”

Our new friend, John, had made the perfect first (and lasting) impression, and here’s how your blogs, newsletters and social media posts can too.

John Trevarick

Photo of John Trevarick by Alex Chirita

1. Be friendly and warm

If you plan to catch your reader’s attention as they flip through lots of other attention-seeking content, as is the case on social media, your message should be inviting and personable.

Like John, who introduced himself with a smile and a handshake, be friendly in your approach.

  • Use a conversational tone
  • Lay out your text in bite-size pieces
  • Introduce your message with a strong headline or relevant greeting
  • Upload a photo, video or GIF that matches the nature of your message
  • Make sure readers can easily access your content if it is on another platform

2. Be engaging

You want to find something in common with your audience so they feel like they are a part of the conversation. If your readers aren’t interested in the topic or can’t relate to it, then they will skip right over it.

John immediately asked us what we do in London, come to find that all three of us—he a singer, Alex a photographer and I a content creator—can relate to the difficulties of trying to make a career out of a passion or art form.

Yes, John had a long, successful career and had been through a lot more ups and downs, but he genuinely cared about our professional goals and how we planned to reach them.

He created an enjoyable, two-way conversation that was relevant to our lives—the second key to making a meaningful connection with your online community.

  • Narrow in on what your audience cares about
  • Think about your content’s purpose—does it solve a problem, entertain or act as an announcement?—and stick to it
  • Write a punchy headline that draws in your readers (and doesn’t mislead them)
  • Be passionate and genuine in the delivery of your message
  • Ask a relevant question and invite readers to leave comments or feedback

3. Be giving

It’s important to always give your audience more than whatever you are asking for.

In exchange for your reader’s time and attention, your content should provide something of value: a solution, piece of advice, helpful information, service or special offer.

John not only told us entertaining stories that are now fond memories (he met Tony Bennett once and sang him his favorite Tony Bennett song!), but he also insisted on paying for our coffee and looking him up the next time we visit Derbyshire.

He turned a spare 30 minutes into a new friendship.

How can your content do the same?

  • Offer a free e-book with authoritative advice or tips
  • Host a video chat where you answer your viewers’ questions
  • Give special offers on your products or services
  • Put on a contest and reward the winner with a prize (big or small)
  • Produce an entertaining podcast or post a cool behind-the-scenes video. Get creative!

There are countless ways to connect with your online community, but creating content that is friendly, engaging and giving will make those connections meaningful and relevant.

Thanks, John, for showing us how it’s done.

P.s. Here’s a short video of our weekend in Derbyshire.

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