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3 Simple ways You can get your Blog Engagement Rockin

A Guest Contribution by Shaun McCarthy from Twitter, or visit Training Outcomes

When was the last time you learned something new? It could have been anything, from customising your blog template or setting up your social media to fixing your leaky tap. I want you to think about how you were taught. Did you just sit down and read a manual?

I’m guessing you didn’t. I bet you did a whole combination of things in order to perfect your new skill. It might have included reading, but it probably also included watching how someone else does it, listening as they explained it to you and almost definitely trying it yourself.

Why is this important to you as a blogger and content creator? Because in order to get your audience to do what you want them to do, you first need them to fully comprehend your message.

In this post I’m going to show you three basic ways that people learn and what you can do to ensure your blog content gets them excited.

Three key learning types

Did you know that more than half of the population (around 65%) are visual learners? What that means is they need to be able to see a concept in order to process, remember and use it.

Everyone has a preferred way to consume information, a learning style. Visual learners want to see how to do something. Auditory learners like to hear an explanation and talk things through. Kinaesthetic people need to get their hands dirty and feel how something is done.

If you understand the way your audience likes to learn, then communicating with them becomes a whole lot easier.

1. Visual learners

Visual learners prefer to watch demonstration and will often get more out of video, rather than written instructions. Aside from the sheer entertainment value, this is one of the main reasons why YouTube works so well.

Video works well because it is very engaging, but you can also use simple visual alternatives such as diagrams and images that help to communicate, or better demonstrate the outcome you are trying to achieve. Photos, cartoons, tables and charts all work well as reinforcement tools for visual learners.

The good news is that you can create videos yourself using a decent camera with movie mode, or even with an iPhone if you are starting out. Practice makes perfect, but it is likely that your audience will value any effort you make to show them what you are talking about.

Well renowned blogger, Ramsay the Blog Tyrant, has used video to great effect in his article about Google authorship. Not only did he write a really detailed ‘how to’ and inject plenty of his own thoughts, he also included a video to show his audience exactly how it can be done using screen capture software.

Videos aren’t the only visual learning tools available. Infographics visually communicate ideas and sometimes, quite complex data. They are so popular because they resonate so well with visual learners.

2. Auditory learners

Hearing and speaking are closely related so you’ll often find auditory learners combining the two when they are introduced to new concepts. Maybe you have even found yourself repeating something out aloud in order to remember it.

Auditory learners remember complex information through song or rhyme; in fact we all do it from an early age – who doesn’t know the alphabet song?

A good way to engage people that like to learn by listening is through podcasts. Podcasts are a really popular way to deliver online interviews and once you are up and running, podcasts are pretty easy to offer to your audience. Check out Pat Flynn’s great resource about setting up podcasts for a great step by step (funnily enough it actually contains a lot of video).

Video can also be a good way to engage auditory learners. It can really help develop a stronger connection when your audience can see the person behind the voice. Someone that does this extremely well is Derek Halpern from Social Triggers. Derek has stacks of energy and gets right to the point, leaving you with a clear and actionable takeaway message every time.

As surprising as it might sound, you can also engage auditory learners through text by getting them to repeat something (like a desired action) aloud to themselves. Try suggesting to your reader that they read a word or sentence using a well-known voice (like a celebrity), or tell them how it should sound (sexy, angry, crazy). You will be amazed how well this works at getting someone to recall a certain piece of information.

3. Kinaesthetic learners

While kinaesthetic learners make up the smallest group, many of us use this type of learning at some point. This is the process of performing the intended action, which is naturally more suited to physical activities.

Although this can pose some challenges in an online setting, there are ways to incorporate this learning style into your blog. Try to be very descriptive about the way in which something should feel to the learner and ask them to action it out themselves.

You can also try setting specific homework related to your desired action. On your blog you could do this by:

  • For a photography blog, you could ask your reader to take a specific photo in a particular way and have them post a link to it in the comments;
  • For a personal development blog you could challenging readers to interact with a specific number of new people in a given amount of time, then ask them to report back;
  • For a marketing/writing blog you could offer subscribers a reward in the form of a link from your site, for a specific piece of content they create.

Aside from helping people put their learning into practice, another benefit in doing this is that it often promotes community interaction. Your audience will not only share and learn from you, but also with each other, which is really cool to see happen.

Adding the additional reward element through recognition makes it all the more enticing.

Combining learning styles

Research has show that combining different learning styles is the most effective way to engage learners, independent of the way they best learn.

The key is making your blog a hot house of interaction is to understand that most people use a mixture of learning styles. Some have one dominant style, and use small amounts of the other styles, while other people will use different styles in different situations.

What this all boils down to is that the best way to create a hot house of reader engagement on blog, is to incorporate all three learning styles whenever practical. Look for ways to inject this into your online content and experiment with different communication media like audio and video, I guarantee it will result in better engagement and greater success with your target audience.

Do you usually create one style of content over another? How could you tailor your content to better suit each of these learning styles?

Shaun McCarthy helps people create fantastic learning experiences that anyone can relate to. He also likes to make wild claims about guaranteed success using a training based approach. Feel free to take this up with him on Twitter, or visit Training Outcomes to see how a simple approach to online training can help you get more from your online business.

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Comments

  1. Good post!

    I tend to be a visual learner for step by step issues, like how to install……

    If I want to look at a news story, I would rather read that. Seems like a lot of news sites use video to report the news which is of little interest to me. I would rather read the news article than listen to someone tell me about it.

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks Stephen,

      Understanding your own learning style can really help you find ways to get the most from different information sources and it sounds like you’ve got it nailed.

    • I’m the same; I prefer to read information, rather than consume video or audio content but I do feel that it’s vital to include images with the text.
      I’ll never forget an article that I read a few years ago, about a new species of fish that had just been discovered. The article described the fish in great detail but there was no picture, not even an artist’s impression, so I had no idea whether the image in my head bore any resemblance to the real thing.
      Imagining what something looks like is great if you’re reading a novel, not so great when you’re reading an article about a scientific discovery.

  2. sandi says:

    Really interesting reading.
    I agree that the best way is combining learning style-

  3. Combining works quite well Shaun. I sway toward creating videos to train my team, as the interface helps me lay out our system in a simple, step by step fashion with a screen share.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  4. Delia says:

    Thanks for the tips! I found that answering to comments creates better engagement and people come to the blog again and again particularly if they posted questions that got answered.

    Haven’t tried video and audio yet, but sounds like a great idea. Particularly video for how to tutorials works great, I learn a lot from those posts and I imagine other people too :)

    • Eric says:

      Delia,

      I agree there. I’ve done some how-to videos on YouTube and just found one of them is on the first page now for me and the second for others.

      Everyone learns differently so it’s good to mix in a variety when possible and give readers a chance to learn in their best way.

      That’s what I’m starting on my site now with articles and audio (to play while on the page and to download).

    • You are spot on about interaction in the comments Delia. It can also provide great opportunities for your audience to interact with each other which promotes further ‘social learning’.

      There can be a bit of a technology lag when you get started with video and audio (believe me I know), but they are really useful when done well.

      Good luck!

  5. Enjoyed your article. I’m familiar with the learning styles, in fact I’ve written about them on my own blog – but this was a good reminder. The one area I’m least comfortable with is auditory. I keep thinking I should incorporate something like a podcast, but since I’m not an auditory learning myself I don’t even listen to them. Still, I accept this as tunnel vision, so I’m shoving that further up the task list – time to challenge my comfort level. Thanks!

  6. Gorata says:

    Great article! It good to know the different learning types so that we know how to reach a vast audience! :)

  7. Thanks for this post!

    It reminded me that I should finally start working on that Start Here page where I could create some sort of visual guide with links to all content I have published on the blog!

  8. Rohit Sharma says:

    Hi Shaun,

    Thanks for sharing the insights about – How we learn things!

    I guess I am a combination of three!

    My take away from this write up is – More we indulge ourselves into anything and this is how more we learn…

  9. siddharth says:

    Thanks for the tips! It good to know the different learning types

  10. Tammy says:

    I tend to keep to my style of learning…. which means I’m neglecting the other 2 styles! Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Eric says:

    I find it’s fun to download a blog post in audio format and listen later on. You can come back and leave a great comment or write something amazing and link back to their post (better than a comment, imo) after becoming inspired from listening to them.

    Also, it creates enthusiasm as you can tell when people talk with excitement much more than you can hear it in their writing voice.

    Video is great too as how-to’s work well and just putting yourself out there and showing who you are can show people you’re real and want to help rather than always writing more and more content.

    It’s really up to who your audience is but a mix up every now and then (without leaving them hanging completely) is good to keep things interesting.

    Do you find audio/video works well in the blogging niche or do articles still do a pretty fine job?

    • Hey Eric,

      I think that there is a place for everything, but video in particular can be very beneficial in a number of different ways. I agree 100% about being able to feel how energised someone is through audio too. Derek Halpern is a great example of this, the guy is so fired up you can’t help but take notice of him.

  12. Zell says:

    Hey Shaun,

    I definitely prefer visuals over audios when I learn things, especially from blogs. However, I’m sort of a kinaesthetic learner in a sense because I can’t seem to remember anything unless I make the effort to perform the action!

    As a newcomer in the blogosphere, this posts really opened up horizons and allow me to understand why videos and podcasts work. It is because people have different learning preferences and to top it off, videos may work extremely well since they combine both audio and visuals!

  13. Dan Erickson says:

    As a college instructor I incorporate all three styles into my teaching. As a writer I put emphasis on imagery. Most of us do use a combination of styles.

  14. Luana Marks says:

    Thanks for the tips! I found that answering to comments creates better engagement and people come to the blog again and again particularly if they posted questions that got answered.

  15. Ciera says:

    Breaking down the type of learners is genius. It is so true that you need to cater to all of those individuals. I need to start diversifying the blog with videos, instead of just text. You gave me a lot to think about. Thanks!

  16. I definitely use all 3 of these when I learn. Especially if it’s learning how to do a specific thing I like the step-by-step tutorial type which can either be in print or video. I try to cater to all 3 learning types on my blog. I use a lot of pictures if I’m trying to teach something new. Thanks for the reminder!

  17. michael says:

    Your site is very useful and now I learn more for my blog. Thank you.

  18. Thanks for sharing the good article…really combining learning style is the best way…

  19. J.D. Meier says:

    Beautiful insights.

    I like the way you’ve lit up each preference with examples of how to use it.

    Tony Robbins taught me early on to be aware of audio, visual, and kinaesthetic preferences. Later on, I learned about the abstract, concrete, random, and sequential learning styles, which helped me better understand what people want at another level.

    I’ve also found metaphors to be a useful and fast way to bridge knowledge gaps. It’s like switching on a light bulb.

    At the end of the day, the most effective tool I’ve used is scenarios. By identifying core scenarios, common scenarios, and advanced scenarios, it makes it chunk up information, in an incremental way.

  20. I have always thought that blog readers are visual learners. Now I know that more people agree with me on this.

    Nice article…

  21. Sibo says:

    Two main ways I use to learn new things are reading and listening.

    Reading: mainly blogs and eBooks
    Listening: podcast and audio books

    I love learning and I almost learn new stuffs and apply it into my life every day.

    Thank you for the great post!

  22. Roger says:

    I’ve never really thought about it really. I suppose I’ve primarily appealed to just visual learners. Perhaps that is because that is what I rely on mostly when learning?

  23. Whitney says:

    It’s super important to cater to each of the learning styles of your blog’s audience, if and whenever possible. For the simple fact that your blog readers are your family, and they’re the whole reason you blog in the first place. So it pays to give them something they can easily digest, which in turn makes them come back for more. It’s all about community with blogging.

  24. Nice incorporation of the aspect of learning styles into the blog engagement element.

  25. Arif Gangji says:

    Any stats on how many people listen to podcasts vs. read a blog post? It’s so much harder to share a podcast that I wondered.