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How to Create Content that Ignites Reader Conversation

In order to create content that ignites a two-way conversation, you first need to visualize your reader or viewer in front of you. Really picture that person in the room with you as you craft your content. What would you say to them in person? What would your mannerisms be? And what would they say back to you? Try to capture these conversational dynamics in your content.

These tactics increase your authenticity and connection to the audience because the message feels like a real conversation, not just a one-way statement.

Two companies that create two-way conversations well are Google and Etsy.  For those that don’t know Etsy, it’s an artist and crafters’ haven — a marketplace online. And for those that don’t know Google, you should just stop reading now.<wink>

Google’s lesson: Stir curiosity and ask for a response

Google’s high school accolade would be “Most Popular.” Not only does Google come up in multiple conversations a day, it creates its own conversations with users. For example, Google’s latest conversation-starter is “A Google a Day,” a daily puzzle game that sends users on a virtual scavenger hunt. Google advertises the game online and in traditional media outlets, like newspapers.

Google stirs curiosity by posing a random and peculiar question to the reader each day, and then sending them to a website to check their answer. There is no right way to find the answer, but there is only one right answer.

Therefore, users are challenged to be creative when solving the puzzle. They could ask a friend what she thinks (which is what I did when I first played), or they could Google it, which of course adds to the popularity and ranking of Google as the most used search engine (TechZoom, 2011).

This puzzle game ignites a curiosity spark in viewers and asks for a response. Once that viewer responds, they get an immediate answer back from Google — bringing the conversation full circle. And the following is what we all hope to see after we enter our answer: a big green “correct.”

Figure 1: “a Google a Day” answer on November 16, 2011 (


Etsy’s lesson: Keep it simple and relevant

We’re not all billion-dollar companies like Google, with the resources to create a website devoted to a customized game. But we all can use social networks. From Etsy, this simple two-way conversation lesson comes from its Facebook page. Periodically, Etsy posts a question in a picture format, as seen below.

Figure 2: Etsy’s Facebook page (November, 2011)

This simple piece of content is a prime example of an effective  two-way conversation-starter for the following reasons:

  1. Etsy is seen as a human brand because the photo is of an actual employee with a handwritten question. There is no graphic manipulation or animation to distract.
  2. The audience, primarily crafters and artists, can see Etsy’s commitment to its “practice what you preach” mentality in the handmade chalkboard and strap.
  3. The copy is relevant. Heading into the holiday season, people are thinking about what gifts to get for their loved ones and friends. People are apt to respond and read others’ comments because the question is already on their minds.

As evidenced by almost 300 comments and 70 “likes”, this simple and relevant Facebook question ignites a conversation.

The important lesson learned from these Google and Etsy examples is to appeal to human curiosity, making your content clever and personable, while asking for a reply back. Once you’ve ignited the two-way conversation, remember to keep your audience stoked.

What is a clever campaign your company has created to generate a conversation?