Do you know the right questions to ask your audience?

It’s not as easy as you might think. Boost engagement on social media with these questions.

You want to create social media buzz about your brand or event. What’s the best way to kick-start conversations? Which button can you press for automatic interaction?

See what I did? I asked a question. People want to tell you what they think, and they want you to call them out for it. They won’t interact if you only use Twitter to tell them how awesome the ice sculpture was at last year’s holiday party.

Finding the right question is not always easy. Here are some tips for crafting questions that are more likely to get engagement:

1. Make it relevant

This seems straightforward and simple, but it can be tricky. Find issues and topics that your audience is talking about, and let them guide your questions. Hosting an annual gathering? Ask questions about last year’s event and this year’s expectations. Hosting a local event? Ask about specific happenings occurring in your community.

By making questions meaningful to your audience, you’re more likely to get a response. Read your question twice before you hit send and make sure that someone in your network will be compelled to answer. If not, rework it.

2. Make it current

Within the realm of good taste, it’s worth asking about industry trends. Tech companies ask about Apple products after iPhone announcements. Men’s clothing companies ask about college football. Know your audience and stay on top of the current happenings.

But be smart. Stay away from anything that people could view as controversial—politics, sex or religion to name a few. Use common sense. If it’s not something you would ask a stranger at a dinner party, don’t ask your community.

3. Make it creative

Cater to your audience’s unique interests. Etsy asked Facebook followers which cookbooks live on their shelves, and more than 70 people responded. Whole Foods received nearly 1,500 comments for asking which food films their fans love. It’s OK to ask something a little offbeat or unexpected.

4. Make it useful

During one of my first weeks at Eventbrite, I struggled to come up with valuable content for our community. I talked about it with Mitch, our partnerships manager.

“I have no idea who they are or what they’re looking for,” I said.

“Just ask them,” he said.

#Duh. I posted a question on Twitter asking if people were event organizers or attendees, and why they followed us. I received a solid number of responses, which I’ve kept in mind when delivering content.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn about your community; people are happy to tell you about themselves, and it will only help you in the future. (Thanks to all of you who responded back then!)

5. Make it trackable

Track what questions you ask and when you ask them. Track the responses. Track everything you can. This helps for planning purposes, and provides easy reference if you ever need to look up results or history.

How many questions did you ask your audience in June 2011? Did you increase those interactions in September 2011? Check your spreadsheet. Boom. It’s all right there.

Also, this is huge for testing purposes. Asking a lot of questions is trial and error. By looking at what you’re asking and how your audience received it, you’ll be able to better cater your content to your audience.

6. Make it a conversation

Remember to respond when you can. It’s not full engagement if you let the answers sit there.

And, of someone’s answer is worth a retweet, retweet it. This will further highlight the conversation you’re having while crediting the people who are interacting with you.

Do you have any tips for driving conversation through social media?

Tighe Flatley is the blog editor and community manager for Eventbrite. A version of this article originally ran on the Eventbrite blog.

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