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The Best Kind of Question to Ask to Increase Engagement

The Best Kind of Question to Ask to Increase Engagement

By Pat Flynn on

Have you ever watched a game show on television by yourself?

If you’re like most people, you probably have at some point in your life. They’re a lot of fun! And even though we hardly ever know who the contestants are on the show, it can hold our attention for quite a long time.

Now, another question for you…

While watching a game show by yourself, have you ever said an answer out loud?

If you’re like 99% of the population who watches game shows, it’s an absolute yes!

Some people even shout at the screen, like Pat Sajak or Alex Trebek will hear the answer through the tube and award a cash prize or something. Hah!

If we are all by ourselves, then why bother saying the answer to these questions in the first place?

We do this because we love to know that we know the right answer.

Think about a classroom full of young preschool kids. When a teacher asks a question that the children know the answer to, they go wild! Hands will try to extend higher than the others, and “OOO, OOO, I know, I know” becomes the chorus.

I coach my son’s soccer team, and it’s the exact same thing.

When kids get older, however, I’m guessing they lose a little bit of that excitement because they’re trained to think that being incorrect is bad, and they’re scared of being wrong and of what others might think of them.

But, even as adults, when we’re alone and we know an answer to something, we often say it out loud.

We love to know that we know the right answer. 

As a content creator—on your blog, your podcast, your video channel, on social media—you have an opportunity to tap into your audience’s desire to share that they know the right answer to something. Give them opportunities and they will take it. Your engagement is almost guaranteed to increase.

Another way to put it: instead of just asking questions, ask for the answer.

Sick Science!

One of my favorite podcasts is the Social Media Marketing Podcast hosted by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. Although I don’t regularly listen each week, I do binge listen from time to time to catch up on the latest and greatest in social media and marketing.

In this episode of the Social Media Marketing Podcast, Mike’s guest Steve Spangler, a super fun scientist and speaker with a massive following online, talked about a simple change he made with his YouTube videos that increased engagement in his comment section like mad.

When he started producing regular videos for his YouTube channel, he would conduct an experiment and then at the end of the video share exactly what happened. He wanted to teach science, so this made complete sense.

Unfortunately, the engagement was very low. People would watch the videos and then move on.

Then, he switched it up…

He still conducted fun experiments in the same way as he did before, but then instead of revealing exactly what happened, he’d finish with an image that says:

Share your conclusion on why you think this happens by leaving a comment below.

And then, the comments EXPLODED.

Not only was everyone chiming in with their answer, but debates were started, people brought out their old science books to prove themselves—it was amazing!

And again, it’s because when given the opportunity, people will share that they know (or have found) the right answer.

Here’s an example below:

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So, using this example from Steve, what kinds of questions can you ask to get your audience talking, thus increasing your overall brand authority.

Open ended questions are great, but sometimes questions with a clear cut answer that you don’t reveal yourself can be what people need to click reply and respond.

Another example, just for fun, I asked my Facebook audience this question:

Screenshot 2015-03-23 13.44.02

Of course, if I were in the health and fitness space this would make more sense and likely get even more engagement, but within 15 minutes, 40 comments already came through- and many of the replies consist of more than one word.

Screenshot 2015-03-23 13.46.35


So, real quick, think of a question that would be perfect for your audience to answer in this way. Share it in the comment section below. Again, it’s one with a clear answer, but even better if it’s a debated topic. For example, which is more important for your website: content or design?

Practice below, and feel free to add context if you wish. Then, try it out, give it some time, and let us know how it went!


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