Six tricks how your users engage with your content more than ever before

Every user is a good user. But aren’t engaged users better? So how do you get your users to not only click on your content but comment, share, love it?

We asked in our community of digital journalists and got these six awesome recipes for creating an audience that really cares about what you post on social media.

This article is part of the weekly challenge in our Slack Community “Digital Journalism Rocks”. We started a Slack team for all those who love digital journalism and love to share their knowledge. Interested in joining us? It’s free. And it rocks. Follow the conversation on Twitter: #djrocks.

Emotion, emotion, emotion

by Martin Hoffmann from Resi App

In my opinion the biggest driver of engagement is emotion. If you are able to identify the topics your audience is really passionate about you will almost automatically have a discussion. Saying that it helps to be part of the discussion from time to time as the one who started it. This is something a lot of media company’s don’t do — and I have always asked myself: why?

Show things only you can show your readers

by Katrin Scheib from the Moscow Times

Since we have many international readers, we’ve found that showing them things only we can show them works really well. One of my favorite examples is this post from a while back, because it is both a behind the scenes look at the conditions we work in, and a perfect showcase of Russian bureaucracy. Anyone who has spent some time here will instantly recognize the Russian love for official stamps (round ones! rectangular ones! even, occasionally, a triangular one…), and for the others, it’s something new and unusual they wouldn’t normally get to see. (And of course, bureaucracy also is a highly emotional topic, which ties in with Martin Hoffmanns statement above).

Share strong opinions

by Benny Denes from Spiegel TV

It depends on what you intend: Many shares and likes? Positive Reactions? This can be reached — like in real life — with a sense of humour and if you don’t take yourself too seriously. A good instrument for triggering discussions are quotations, a short and strong opinion from the article, the video, the link your regard to. And finally: If the intended engagement is a click, it’s good to create a „I-MUST-SEE-THIS“ attraction. Because it’s all about curiosity. So simple yet so hard. One thing I do is to check my own news feed before posting something on Facebook. Some of the other posts are your challengers.

Define small and clear questions

by Moritz Guth from Edenspiekermann

From my experience, a strong — if not the strongest — driver for high and valuable user engagement is defining small and clear questions and tasks. The more users know what you expect and what they get out of it, the more likely they are to participate.

Get your audience in an auditorium

by Kevin Dale from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona

The Denver Post hosts Photo Night Live several times per year where the multiple-Pulitzer-winning staff tells the story behind the image. Each time they pack a 200-seat auditorium and sell photos in the lobby. It’s a great community engagement effort that took off immediately.

Try to understand your audience

by Philipp Gabriel from Fuchs und Bieber

The answer to a high engagement rate is: high quality content, written in the language of your audience. Get in touch with your audience, look at what they are doing and try to understand it. It is a social network so get in contact with the audience of your channel. I think that is the mystery of high engagement.

But be aware of some common mistakes:

When starting social media channels, you want to grow and engagement is not a big deal. But if you are part of a social media team, in a newspaper or in a regular company, you will get in touch with engagement rates really fast. Of course it is nice to have a high engagement, but it’s not all — not every action of your followers has the same quality.

Let’s take a look at Facebooks possibilities when it comes to engagement:

  1. Like: Yes, I know you can not only like posts now but react to them with other emotions but don’t focus on this, they’re just other sorts of likes. Don’t care too much about likes. They will come nevertheless. How long do you need to click on the “Like”-Button? Two seconds if you are really slow.
  2. Comment: If someone writes a comment, you really have an engagement, the person writes something and you can read his or her opinion about what you have posted. In the newsfeeds of his or her friends it will be visible, so you get more from it.
  3. Share: The share is king of engagement. A person who shares something wants to show his or her friends your content.

But there is a dark side of engagement:

Comment with linked names: When you force the users to mark one of his or her friends in the comments you get a high engagement — but an engagement you don’t need, you doesn’t get anything out of it.

Clickbaiting: A clickbait forces an emotion. When the user clicks on the link he gets most times a useless information, besides those rare cases in which the content is really funny. You get your engagement but a lot of frustration from your users on top.

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Lina Timm

Lina Timm

Digital Enthusiast. Journalism and Startups. Program Manager @MediaLabBayern. Founder of