Content Strategy: Answer audience questions publicly

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

One of the many techniques to come up with ideas for blog posts or website articles is to respond to audience questions publicly. Somebody asks a question, answer them directly, but then also share the answer with others on your website and other channels.

We know that different audience members prefer different channels of communication. Some want to call and talk to somebody, others email or send a message through a contact form on the website and some want to connect on Twitter. There are other channels that bring audience questions, too, of course. Sometimes audience questions are asked in person, offline, too.

Many questions come through what we might call “private channels.” People call with a question, if they get us on the phone we’ll answer it. Nobody else heard the answer, though, unless the caller repeats it to others – let’s hope accurately. We could be answering similar phone calls for a while. Same with one-on-one emails. Clearly, we want to offer great customer service and try to help the caller and email sender, but why don’t we also answer the questions that have come in publicly on our blog or website?

It’s an easy way to share relevant information that somebody has asked about and that others might be wondering about. Now, we probably can’t publish the name of the person who asked the question and many times it’s not relevant or necessary anyways. Where all can the answer be shared?

  • Blog about it – if there is enough substance to the answer.
  • Add the question to the FAQ page, if you have one. If there is a related question already, review it and see if updates are necessary.
  • If the question is already being answered somewhere on the website, check the language and words that are being used. Are the same words being used that the caller used? Would a person searching for the answer on a search engine find the answer? You might even do keyword research. Update language or elaborate if necessary.
  • Share the answer on social media.

Keep in mind that people probably are calling or emailing with some questions that are already being answered on your website. But for one reason or another they didn’t find them or didn’t look for them. In a true multi-channel strategy we suggest to answer the question in whatever medium it was asked. If somebody asked on Twitter, don’t make them call or email you – though sometimes, depending on regulations, for example, that might be necessary. In a perfect scenario, you would answer them on Twitter.

We would recommend avoiding any channel hopping for audience members. It might also be worthwhile to keep an eye on trends. Are the same – or similar questions – being asked over and over again? But they are also listed in the FAQs? Perhaps it’s time to highlight them on the homepage for a while to answer the question for a wider audience.

The main question to ask ourselves perhaps: How do we make sure to answer questions in a way that they are accessible for the most people interested in their answers?