Every single day, over 4 million posts are created in blogs online. When such a great amount of content is generated, it may be difficult for your posts to actually generate engagement with visitors. This is why understanding what makes particular content engaging is fundamental to businesses looking to develop continuous interactions with users and strengthen their online presence.

One of the key aspects of developing this kind of relationship with users is reverse-engineering your content. What this means is to analyze the ways in which competition generates engagements, study which aspects of their strategies apply to your business, and use this knowledge to cater to your audience in new and innovative ways. We can divide this process in three steps.

Step #1: Find content that’s already doing well

One of the first mistakes sometimes made in content generation is scaling back quality in favor of quantity. It is wrongly assumed that if you’re generating enough content daily, that at least some of it will receive visitors that can sustain your campaign in the long run. This mistake can lead you to spend a lot of time and resources generating material that will barely receive any attention. Thus, by identifying what makes content engaging, you may be able to use your resources more efficiently by crafting high-quality content and increase interest in your business.

If you want to figure out which content in your particular vertical is receiving engagement online, then one of the best ways to figure that out is by looking at what people are already sharing. For example, online content aggregators are continuously curating, promoting and sharing articles about every single topic imaginable. If you want to find out what is currently popular about any topic in particular, content aggregators and forums can give you an advantage to quickly access, categorize and understand which formats or concepts in particular are receiving more attention, and more importantly, you may be able to understand why they are receiving such attention.

This strategy can also help you identify which new trends are currently being ignored by your competition, recognize potential future clients that may be outside of your initial sphere of interests, and improve the way in which users interact with your content. You may realize that infographics and photographs create more engagement than text, that lists receive more visits than video, etc. Every industry is different, and the way you conduct your online business should adapt to generate the most interesting possible format to capture and retain your visitor’s attention.

Step #2: Improve on what you learned

Now that you’ve already identified which content and formats generate the greatest amounts of engagement in your area of interest, you’re ready to improve on this with your own spin. Everything can be improved upon, including posts that have been successful before, and this is where our expertise and knowledge of your field will give you a clear advantage.

One way of doing this is looking for information on a given topic that is slightly out of date, and improving it with any links, studies or new research that could turn old content into new engagements for your business. Another technique you could use is to aggregate and summarize several bits of information found in different places into one definite guide that includes all relevant material. If you manage to deliver more information in one place than your competitors, then you’ll have an advantage.

Another way of improving upon old content is to use innovative design to deliver information. A good enough design can make your content instantly appear more engaging and attractive to potential users.

The last strategy you can use is the writing itself. If you manage to write your content in a way that people enjoy reading, then your information is more likely to be shared. The language you use should portray both your expertise in your subject and your willingness to engage with your users at their level of knowledge. Retaining their attention will only happen if they are both getting something out of your posts and enjoying what they’re reading at the same time.

Step #3: Promote directly to interested users

When you are creating your content, it’s a good idea to think outside the box about which users could find your content interesting. If you realize that your post contains allusions or mentions of subjects outside of your main business, then sharing your content to those interested in this new subject could diversify and increase your audience. Looking for possible new subjects that might be tangentially related to your business is one of the best strategies to expand your audience.

This next strategy that you is a sure-fire way to increase your engagement: find those users who are already sharing material about your subjects and cater directly to them. Since you already know that the material you’re generating is better than the stuff they’ve shared before, then those users are more than likely to engage and share what you’re posting. Be direct and specific about why you’re contacting them. Your communications should include which material they’ve shared before and why yours is more complete, better researched, or better designed.

If you mention any experts or professionals as reference in your material, then it’s a good idea to let them know. A quick email or tweet perhaps informing them that their subject of study is being used and shared through your site is an excellent way of generating fruitful relations with possible future collaborators. Since they’re probably very involved in your particular area of interest, there’s a high chance that they might be sharing your other content too. Having an expert voice onboard will give your material both credibility and authority.

Finally, if you’re aware of any particular forums or sites dedicated to curating topics about your area, then engaging directly with them might be just as good as social media campaigns. Niche forums may have tons of dedicated users who are already looking for what you have to offer. If you manage to make them aware of your presence as a good reference, then you already have a captive audience that will probably engage with your site for years.