For engaged users, be consistent, be unique and be mobile

Chris Jones of Google speaking at Dublin Tech Summit. Image: the photo project.

If you want engaged users who regularly visit your website – and who doesn’t? – the key is to tell a compelling story, be unique, be consistent, and above all else be mobile first.

That was the message from Chris Jones, global audience development specialist with Google, who gave a talk entitled ‘Improving Engagement in Today’s Social World’ at Dublin Tech Summit.

“This is the age of mobile. Everything is mobile centric,” Jones said. “We are mobile junkies. No matter if you’re a publisher, a content creator, an ecommerce or B2B company, one of the first steps on the path to purchase is on a mobile phone.”

According to Jones there are three things to remember when you’re building a website – make it fast, make it easy for users to navigate, and make it consistent.

Make it fast

“Making it fast is imperative,” he said. “Users expect speed in a mobile first world, you need to be giving users what they want when they want it. We have a need, a desire for information now, at our fingertips. After three to five seconds you start losing people, by five to 10 seconds they’re gone. You could have the best product, the best information, the best content in the world, they don’t care.”

As a Googler, Jones is keen to promote Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages tool for speedy mobile pages.

“With AMP you can make articles and content fast, anyone can use it. any developer, big or small, SaaS or not SaaS. You can just swipe to the next article or next piece of content, it’s that quick.”

The tech giant also offers a tool to test the speed of your site on different devices, along with a detailed report on how to make it load faster. The tool can also be used to test individual pages.

Make it easy to navigate

The next step is to make your site as user-friendly as possible. Navigation should be simple to understand and touch-friendly. Fonts should be correctly resized for each screen. Also – a point a lot of companies miss – a website should offer a seamless user experience across mobile and desktop.

Make it consistent

“You need to be consistent across all the screens you can,” Jones explained. “A lot of us start on mobile but when I get to an office or desktop I want to continue the same user experience, I want to continue exactly where I left off. Give them the option to continue at a later stage, give them the option to jump back on it on desktop.”

Engaging content

Unique content is the last piece of the engagement puzzle, though as Jones points out, unique doesn’t have to mean that no one else is writing about it. The key is to offer a unique perspective on your subject.

“Your content should elevate, be full of emotion, should tell a story,” he said. “How do you engage your users? The first thing is to build unique content. I don’t mean every piece has to be completely new. It can also be a story that has been told before, but it’s your point of view on a story. The key value is what makes your content different from site B.

“Think about the news sites you go to. You go to these sites, you’re probably getting a lot of the same stories but you’re going to these sites for their point of view on it. This helps you understand the uniqueness they have.”

Visualising content is another way to set yourself apart from the crowd. If everyone else is writing about a subject, creating a video or infographic will help people grasp the message more easily, particularly on mobile.

Bear in mind, too, that people tend to share content that falls into one of four different categories:

  1. Emotion: “When we care, we share,” Jones explained. “I want people to feel that emotion.”
  2. Social proof: “Social proof is what makes us look cool, smart, savvy or sexy. We want to show our social group that this is an interesting stat.”
  3. Practical value: “If your content is useful, people will spread the word.”
  4. Stories: “A story is the undercurrent, it’s the base DNA of any viral piece of content that goes out there. If that story is unique enough, touching enough, we will share that information.”

Get social

Finally, you need to get off your site and engage with your users on social media. Jones advised that being in the right place – or on the right platform – is crucial, as well as having a consistent posting schedule.

“Users are on every social media platform but users are there for different reasons, so you need to make sure when you’re on a platform that your users are there as well,” he explained. “You also need to ensure that you’re engaging with them in the right way.

“Posting on a regular schedule, consistency is key. If you got up every Sunday and went and bought a paper, and one Sunday the paper wasn’t there, that would kind of annoy you. It’s the same thing with social media, if you post at 8am every day and one day you just don’t, people will come to expect that content, that piece of information, at 8am. Always post on a regular schedule.”

If you want to drive traffic to your website, the meta description, and the summary you provide on social networks, should be carefully thought out. These summaries, which Jones refers to as “catchy snippets”, should also contain a clear call to action.

“I don’t mean clickbait,” he said. “Catchy snippets basically give just enough information, they tantalise you to go, I’m interested in learning more about this. Just give them enough to tell them, this is what the story is about.

“A clear call to action is the most important thing,” he added. “I’m a busy man, if you don’t tell me what you want to do, I probably won’t do it. If you want me to share a piece of content tell me to share, if you want me to click to read more, tell me. You need to be very direct about it.”

Finally, make sure you’re on the right networks to connect with your readers or customers. You can waste a lot of time trying to nurture leads if you’re on the wrong network.

“Know where your users are,” Jones said. “If you have a female demographic, users go to Pinterest, especially for furniture and clothes. If you have a younger B2C crowd, Snapchat and Facebook are obvious examples. More and more people are going to niche platforms and groups, so find out where your users are and if you’re not there, be there, tell them you’re there.”