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IMPORTANT! How to (create threads that) get engagement

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Andy Black

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Ever created a thread and been mad or disappointed there’s no views or engagement?

I’ve posted videos to watch them sink like a stone. I don’t get mad though, I just wonder why.

Below is my brain dump of what I’ve learned from creating threads to watch them sink without a trace, slowly get traction over the years, or take off (often unexpectedly). Kinda like releasing products to the market right?

I’m curious... what have you learned from posting threads in the forum?

What advice would you give to a new member?

Andy


1) Be curious, not furious.

Take the emotion out. Create it, publish it, observe what happens.
  • Will people click through?
  • Will they watch/listen to what you linked to?
  • What can you do to sell the click to open the thread?
  • What can you do to sell people on watching/listening? (Without misrepresenting the content and being too click-baity).
Why would a piece of content that you think is good not get viewed/traction?
  • Is it because you think it’s good but it’s not what the market wants?
  • Does the market need it but not want it?
  • Is the market aware they even have this problem you’re solving for them?

2) Are you asking for engagement?
  • Do you have CTAs?
  • Are you even asking people to click/view/listen (that would be the CTA!).
  • Are you asking people to come back and post their main takeaway or what they will do different going forward?

3) Want more engagement?

Want to start a conversation around the topic? Want more eyeballs?
  • Ask a question?
  • Make it simple to *start* answering. How about a binary question (with a yes/no or some other black/white reply)?
  • Don’t ask too many questions (less is more when it comes to CTAs).

4) Want more meaningful engagement?
  • Reply to the replies. Dig deeper. Find the why behind the responses.
  • Fan the flames, or create a safe environment for discussion? I prefer to be non-judgemental, but controversy can help keep conversations going. (Not my style though.)

5) Tag people?
  • Who would this help?
  • Who would this appeal to?
  • Who talks about this a lot already?
  • Who has credibility and authority on this subject?
  • Who has a (good) following on this subject that will see the thread if they comment on it?
  • For heavens sake, do this sparingly! Do it because it genuinely helps someone to tag them, or you think they have something worthwhile to add to the conversation. Give *them* a platform for *their* message.
  • Whatever you do, don’t tag people to be self-serving!

6) Change things up
  • If it’s worth it, bump the thread with additional info or thoughts.

7) Forum members don’t want to watch videos.
  • We’ve really got to sell people on watching videos... especially if it’s over 5 minutes long!
  • Go read some @Lex DeVille copywriting threads to learn how to sell the click.
  • Go read @Fox YouTube threads to see how he gets you to watch videos without any hard selling.
  • (See what I did there?)


What’s your tips?



(Post inspired by throw-away comment here.)
 

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Bertram

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Ever created a thread and been mad or disappointed there’s no views or engagement?

I’ve posted videos to watch them sink like a stone. I don’t get mad though, I just wonder why.

The only time I threw my hands in the air was when I found out which of my threads had the MOST views. It was, wait for it, “Adventures of an Instagram Newbie”. Are you kidding me?!?

Anyway... here’s my brain dump of learnings from creating threads to watch them sink without a trace, slowly get traction over the years, or take off (often unexpectedly). Kinda like releasing products to the market right?


I’ll maybe tidy this up later, or maybe I won't. I just thought I’d braindump it sooner rather than later in case it helps someone as is. What’s that you say? “Done is better than perfection?”

I’m curious... what have you learned from posting threads in the forum?

What advice would you give to a new member?

Andy


# Be curious, not furious.

Take the emotion out. Create it, publish it, observe what happens.
  • Will people click through?
  • Will they watch/listen to what you linked to?
  • What can you do to sell the click to open the thread
  • What can you do to sell people on watching/listening? (Without misrepresenting the content and being too click-baity).
Why would a piece of content that you think is good not get viewed/traction?
  • Is it because you think it’s good but it’s not what the market wants?
  • Does the market need it but not want it?
  • Is the market aware they even have this problem you’re solving for them?

# Are you asking for engagement? Do you have CTAs?
  • Am you even asking people to click/view/listen (that would be the CTA!).
  • Am you asking people to come back and post their main takeaway or what they will do different going forward?

# Want more engagement?

Want to start a conversation around the topic? Want more eyeballs?
  • Ask a question?
  • Make it simple to *start* answering. How about a binary question (with a yes/no or some other black/white reply)?
  • Don’t ask too many questions (less is more when it comes to CTAs).

# Want more meaningful engagement?
  • Reply to the replies. Dig deeper. Find the why behind the responses.
  • Fan the flames, or draw create a safe environment for discussion? I prefer to be non-judgemental, but controversy can help keep conversations going. (Not my style though.)

# Tag people?
  • Who would this help?
  • Who would this appeal to?
  • Who talks about this a lot already?
  • Who has credibility and authority on this subject?
  • Who has a (good) following on this subject that will see the thread if they comment on it?
  • For heavens sake, do this sparingly! Do it because it genuinely helps someone to tag them, or you think they have something worthwhile to add to the conversation. Give *them* a platform for *their* message. Whatever you do, don’t tag people to be self-serving!

# Change things up
  • If it’s worth it, bump the thread with additional info or thoughts.

# Forum members don’t want to watch videos.
  • We’ve really got to sell people on watching videos... especially if it’s over 5 minutes long!
  • Go read one some @Lex DeVille copywriting threads to learn how to sell the click.
  • Go read @Fox YouTube threads to see how he gets you to watch videos without any hard selling.
  • (See what I did there?)


What’s your tips?



(Post inspired by throw-away comment here.)
what is the value in posting a popular thread
 

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what is the value in posting a popular thread
Engaged and popular are two different things although sometimes they go together.

Engagement means people care and the content is helpful or valuable to them in some way.

As a reader, it means there is probably something worthwhile in that thread for you to learn.
Sometimes there is an amazing first post - sometimes it is the comments.
Sometimes the best lesson from a thread might actually be what NOT to be doing.

As a poster, it means you are hitting a cord and communicating well.
It is great to give back but it is also a useful skill to see when you can get people involved and get them responding. If you can "sell" a thread you can probably also sell in real life too.

That is why most top posters also do quite well outside the forum also - they know how to capture attention and get people involved.

I post here to help and get help but the best side benefit has been my writing and communicating skills. Being engaged and creating engagement on this forum can be like taking a writing and sales class.
 
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Andy Black

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what is the value in posting a popular thread
That it helps or entertains people, and attracts or retains forum members?

If you’re creating threads then it helps move you from team consumer to team producer.

Got a great message but don’t know how to communicate it clearly, format it so it’s easy to read, or get anyone to read it?

Able to help people but too shy to put yourself out there?

Guess what... you’re not going to be able to help or entertain that many people.

Business is just about helping/entertaining people, and getting paid to do so.

It’s also about building relationships, and this forum can be a great place to build relationships - if you’re active and can entertain or help people.
 

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That it helps or entertains people, and attracts or retains forum members?

If you’re creating threads then it helps move you from team consumer to team producer.

Got a great message but don’t know how to communicate it clearly, format it so it’s easy to read, or get anyone to read it?

Able to help people but too shy to put yourself out there?

Guess what... you’re not going to be able to help or entertain that many people.

Business is just about helping/entertaining people, and getting paid to do so.

It’s also about building relationships, and this forum can be a great place to build relationships - if you’re active and can entertain or help people.
This idea pushes my “ehhhh” button. I agree... ish?

1. Excellent online communication skills don’t necessarily translate into excellent other skills; discipline, commitment, grit, leadership to name a few.

2. Creating threads isn’t the only way to add value. By being a a thoughtful or funny commenter people help flesh ideas out and debate strategy.

3. Everyone should want to be more of a producer but if all your power is going to produce threads you might be distracting yourself from doing real work.

4. This is an awesome place to connect. Absolutely 100%

5. Some skills are extremely difficult to translate into the written word. I wish I could help everybody’s posture/pain on this forum but unless I start my own YouTube channel... huh.

Dammit Andy there you go again with the adding ideas to my brain! Gah! Smdh. Lol
 

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This is great advice for content in general. I think it's even more useful for people to abstract out the information for Articles, Videos or whatever content they create in general.

My dilemma with content usually is that I hate sensationalism. I generally don't like being clickbaity at all, and honestly prefer very bland and descriptive titles for videos and blog posts. But I do feel like being clickbaity works. At the same time it's slightly dishonest, and could potentially attract the types of viewers that you don't necessarily want.

I think the solution to this is to simply have a good reputation. For instance a video showed up titled "Jordan Schlansky Lectures Conan O'Brian About Coffee In Naples" and because I think Conan O'Brian is intelligent and hilarious, I clicked it. But had I not known from experience that he usually posts quality content, I wouldn't have clicked.


That is why most top posters also do quite well outside the forum also - they know how to capture attention and get people involved.
I find this to be true. I think it's also that since they're good at what they do, they give good advice.
 
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Andy Black

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This idea pushes my “ehhhh” button. I agree... ish?

1. Excellent online communication skills don’t necessarily translate into excellent other skills; discipline, commitment, grit, leadership to name a few.

2. Creating threads isn’t the only way to add value. By being a a thoughtful or funny commenter people help flesh ideas out and debate strategy.

3. Everyone should want to be more of a producer but if all your power is going to produce threads you might be distracting yourself from doing real work.

4. This is an awesome place to connect. Absolutely 100%

5. Some skills are extremely difficult to translate into the written word. I wish I could help everybody’s posture/pain on this forum but unless I start my own YouTube channel... huh.

Dammit Andy there you go again with the adding ideas to my brain! Gah! Smdh. Lol
I’m not saying everyone has to create threads all the time. That’s what Linkedin is like - lots of people “content marketing” and not much discussion going on.

I’d argue it’s more valuable to:
  • Add thoughtful debate.
  • Add supportive comments.
  • Nudge people in different directions.
  • Get people to ask better questions.
  • Get people to take action.
 

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I’m not saying everyone has to be creating threads all the time. That’s what Linkedin is like. Lots of people “content marketing” and not much discussion going on. Thoughtful debate, supportive comments, nudges in different direction, and getting people to question themselves or take action are arguably more useful.
I needed the reminder, because I'm building a few websites at the moment. Thanks for the tips.
 
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My dilemma with content usually is that I hate sensationalism. I generally don't like being clickbaity at all, and honestly prefer very bland and descriptive titles for videos and blog posts. But I do feel like being clickbaity works. At the same time it's slightly dishonest, and could potentially attract the types of viewers that you don't necessarily want.
I’m with you. I don’t like subject lines that misrepresent what’s in the thread.

I imagine what the subject line would look like on Google. I know from paid search that it’s not about getting as many people to the page as possible. It’s about getting the right people to the right page at the right time.

I learn a lot from the feedback to anything I post. I’m always surprised how different other people’s views are, and how poor my explanations are the first time round.

I welcome the feedback, confusion, and need for clarification. One of the biggest benefits of putting our thoughts out there is they get polished by interacting with others.

If we get the wrong folks to the page then we could end up changing the content to help completely different people with different problems. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a reason we prefer to get feedback about our business idea from our market rather than friends and family.

That’s my main reason I try to get people with the right “search intent” to any page I create.

Can you see the parallels of creating content to help people and creating products or services to help people?
 

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I welcome the feedback, confusion, and need for clarification. One of the biggest benefits of putting our thoughts out there is they get polished by interacting with others.
Yea I sometimes like debating with people as well. I find that the truth is often like a diamond surrounded by rough. It needs to be berated in order to chip away the junk, and whatever is left over is pure diamond.
 

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controversy can help keep conversations going.
And c'mon.. now you're just giving away my secrets ;)
 

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I also think it's a misguided target.

I was at a conference on recommendation systems (ACM RecSys) and still remember the quote from Netflix:

The metrics used [by Netflix] to optimize the recommendation system cannot distinguish between an enhanced quality of life and an addiction.
LinkedIn lamented the so-called puzzles. You may remember those clickbait posts, "99% could not solve this genius puzzle. Can you?" In fact, they said that they have a small group tasked with removing puzzles, that is, automatically detecting posts that try to generate more comments by asking a simple question. LinkedIn has concluded that while it drives up superficial engagement metrics, it hurts the platform in the long run.

Also, there is no value in posting a popular thread if it distracts people from working on their business. Every platform eventually dies or at least experiences a huge drop in quality, and so will this forum, if it hasn't already happened; dopamine-stimulating clickbaity threads will make it happen faster.
 
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I also think it's a misguided target.

I was at a conference on recommendation systems (ACM RecSys) and still remember the quote from Netflix:



LinkedIn lamented the so-called puzzles. You may remember those clickbait posts, "99% could not solve this genius puzzle. Can you?" In fact, they said that they have a small group tasked with removing puzzles, that is, automatically detecting posts that try to generate more comments by asking a simple question. LinkedIn has concluded that while it drives up superficial engagement metrics, it hurts the platform in the long run.

Also, there is no value in posting a popular thread if it distracts people from working on their business. Every platform eventually dies or at least experiences a huge drop in quality, and so will this forum, if it hasn't already happened; dopamine-stimulating clickbaity threads will make it happen faster.
What’s a misguided target?
 

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Also, there is no value in posting a popular thread if it distracts people from working on their business.
Disagree. I can't imagine going through life thinking like that ... "Well I can't do X, Y, or Z because I need to work on my business 100% of the time!" Like anything in life, everything can turn into a distraction -- including working on your business 24/7/365.

While this is an entrepreneur forum, foremost it is a community first ... a community that can help bridge the divide for folks who are pursuing a life of entrepreneurship, which as many of us know, can be very lonely. This forum is my workplace, my water cooler, my comrades in battle.

Some of my favorite threads on here have nothing to do with business. A distraction? Perhaps... but then again, I don't want to run a forum that is so narrowly focused on making money that it feels more like a hustling money-chase than a community.

When I invest my time into a network (some of who I met, some I haven't) I don't look at it as a distraction.
 

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Just a note to remember when creating threads...

Your thread title is EVERYTHING.

I routinely re-title 3 or 4 threads here per DAY.

Your title must be descriptive in order to draw in responses and eyeballs, and the right eyeballs!

A title like...

Need Advice...

Will not get you many views. Or the views you get won't be targeted to your query.

Need Advice about importing into China...
Need advice about my partner who refuses to work the same hours as me.
Need advice; my manufacturer just raised prices by 20%!


Which title will get you the most engagement? And better answers?
 
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Yea I sometimes like debating with people as well. I find that the truth is often like a diamond surrounded by rough. It needs to be berated in order to chip away the junk, and whatever is left over is pure diamond.
Interesting analogy. Are we chipping away to reveal the diamond, or could it be the diamond is formed under the pressure of argument?
 
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Your title must be descriptive in order to draw in responses and eyeballs, and the right eyeballs!
Exactly. It’s not about the most eyeballs possible, it’s about getting the right eyeballs.
 

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Interesting analogy. Are we chipping away to reveal the diamond, or could it be the diamond is what’s formed under the pressure of argument?
In my analogy the diamond is already formed, but the junk needs to be chipped away. Whatever is strong enough to survive the scrutiny is more likely to be fact.

It's actually how the scientific process works. Since humans have a hard time coming to truths themselves (due to biases, errors, oversights) one scientist puts out their hypothesis and invites tests and scrutiny from the community. Other scientists attempt to tear it to shreds, and if there are any problems with the idea, the original scientists has to go back and reformulate his or her argument. This process is done over and over until hopefully only a diamond (the truth) remains. The diamond, no matter how much pressure or scrutiny can't be destroyed (although some people deny the existence of it lol.)

It's a good analogy of how we should come to knowledge ourselves. We should always be open to opposing arguments, in my opinion.
 

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Every platform eventually dies or at least experiences a huge drop in quality, and so will this forum, if it hasn't already happened; dopamine-stimulating clickbaity threads will make it happen faster.
This.

I hate this idea of people optimizing their threads for engagement.

It's good for people like @AndrewNC, and the countless others that have an indirect monetary benefit in terms of selling a service/class/etc later on to the "eyeballs" that read the threads, but it's horrible for everyone else.

Over time this optimization is going to lead to real threads being filtered out for the ones that have a payout at the end of their funnel.

The individuals that stand to make money end of the day are the ones that will optimize for "Attention", "Engagement", etc. Meanwhile, those individuals on the forum that just want to share something they're doing that's interesting will be buried below the copywriters.

@MJ DeMarco - Is there enough money to hire someone once a week to retitle the good threads with no traction? Or maybe can we get a thread going that highlights all the posts with no traction, and people can go through practicing their copywriting to optimize those thread titles?
 

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we get a thread going that highlights all the posts with no traction
It exists, it's called "Unanswered" and is a part of everyone's main navigation.

25833

Is there enough money to hire someone once a week to retitle the good threads with no traction?
Not really. It's not the re-titling the threads that takes time, it's finding them. I re-title what needs be re-titled, problem is, I only read about 10% of the stuff posted, and I'm already here a lot.
 

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I’m not saying everyone has to create threads all the time. That’s what Linkedin is like - lots of people “content marketing” and not much discussion going on.

I’d argue it’s more valuable to:
  • Add thoughtful debate.
  • Add supportive comments.
  • Nudge people in different directions.
  • Get people to ask better questions.
  • Get people to take action.
This is what I tried here (my most thoughtful insight yet and not looking for anything phony).

Again, great post Andy.

Not a cheap plug, a sincere contribution (poor title?)

 

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This is what I tried here (my most thoughtful insight yet and not looking for anything phony).

Again, great post Andy.

Not a cheap plug, a sincere contribution (poor title?)

Well it's on the inside, so that's the first thing so it's going to get less views just based off that

i think the inside is best for when you want to post about private business stuff you don't want the rest of the forum seeing
 

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threads have to be emotional or controversial.

topics that are too rational can't grab the attention of the average IQ of the masses whether it be here or anywhere in society

for example : topics on dating and sex have a lot of replies while this is not the core of the fastlane philosophy .


this is why i don't create threads because i know that people don't really care about rational things

.


.
 

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There's a lot of clickbaity threads already in the forum.
Titles along similar lines like "I hate MJ, MJ destroyed my life...."
 
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Is there enough money to hire someone once a week to retitle the good threads with no traction?
I personally think it’s a valuable skill to title our own threads so they get enough of the *right* eyeballs (and a valuable lesson that “Advice needed” won’t get much advice).

I didn’t know MJ renamed so many threads. I might rename one every month, and those are only the ones that have a lot of traction already and I’m just adding a bit more clarity to the title.

When I’m writing ads I prefer the headline to be clear and relevant (maybe even boring) as opposed to click-baity. Excluding the wrong people is more important to me than getting more visitors. Once I’m sure we’re getting the right visitors I’ll then put more resources behind it (bid more on keywords and spend more time reviewing the landing page).

I think this forum is a good environment to learn how to create and deliver content that helps people, while getting constructive feedback if we stray to the dark side.
 

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There's a lot of clickbaity threads already in the forum.
Titles along similar lines like "I hate MJ, MJ destroyed my life...."
If you ask me that post crosses the line its a pure lie just to get people to view hes post and i think is kinda offensive.
 

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threads have to be emotional or controversial.
Exactly on point! We buy on emotion, not logic.

This is why logical politicians get 0-5% popularity max, and 5% when they spill something that can be picked up and turned against them ;)

I am overly logical and suffer in conversations with people, because they are driven by being scared mostly...

So what do you need to do to sell 'the truth'? Wrap it in emotions!

for example : topics on dating and sex have a lot of replies while this is not the core of the fastlane philosophy .
Well this is because reproduction is the most important aspect of our lives. Preservation of life. Either physical ( offspring) or mental (building something that will outlive you). So dating (and porn unfortunately) is huge. And 'how to get rich' too on the other side (look at this forum).
 

ChrisV

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this is why i don't create threads because i know that people don't really care about rational things
not sure if i agree

i would read your threads
 

MJ DeMarco

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this is why i don't create threads because i know that people don't really care about rational things
Actually, formerly banned user GMS17D, your problem isn't content, it's hijacking threads and steering them totally off topic or into a tangential realm.

Generally speaking and taking your posts face value, your posts are somewhat interesting, if not, enlightening.

Just not sure Nietzsche needs to be dropped in a thread talking about Intermittent Fasting or dating (hyperbole, but that's my point.)
 

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