Every digital marketer knows the power of compelling content in today’s fast moving world, but what is good content and how do you make it captivating enough to create audience engagement?
Compelling content is as difficult to define as it is to create, despite excellent examples of engaging brand content in the form of videos and infographics, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, memes and e-books.
But with the sheer weight of content added to the internet each minute, let alone each day, how do you make sure your voice is heard above the chatter? And how can you develop techniques that will help to increase your interaction and brand identity?
Creating brilliant content doesn’t just start with a great idea that you think others will love. It starts with a great idea, backed by audience research, that will appeal to your customers either on an emotional level or because it’s something they really need.
There are five basic human needs, and right at the top is self-actualisation.
The power of human potential is key to creating compelling content that has the ability to get in touch with those all-important basic human needs, and there’s nothing 21st century in that: human interest stories have always ruled the roost since before the internet was a glint in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye.
In short, by creating emotionally engaging content you can elevate your brand’s awesomeness.
We have put together 10 hacks to help attract your audience and keep them engaged.
1. Take a trip down memory lane
When I was a teenager, one of my favourite weekend pastimes was to lie in bed late at night with my sisters and reminisce about times gone by, and laugh at all the silly things we used to get up to over cups of tea and crumbly biscuits.
We all love to reminisce and relive fond memories – it’s human nature! So use that to your advantage when engaging with your audience. Find priceless gems of forgotten culture that could relate to your brand, and create content that evokes nostalgia.
2. Appeal to the ego within
In general people enjoy being involved, getting attention, and talking about themselves. This has always been the case but in today’s image-driven culture, and the invention of the selfie, it is increasingly evident.
Appeal to people’s love of themselves by creating content that is personalised as far as possible to your target audience. Use their names, their faces – anything that aims the content at them.
Coca-Cola increased sales by 2 per cent in the summer of 2014, simply by popping people’s first names onto cans and bottles as part of its ‘Share-a-Coke’ campaign. It was so successful they brought back the campaign in Summer 2015 and even allowed people to personalise and purchase their own bottle through the website.
This campaign has recently been mirrored by Nutella. Although these campaigns were on a national scale, the core insight can be applied in your strategy, from featuring user-generated content on your website, to placing your email subscribers’ names in your subject lines.
3. Daddy or chips
I don’t know about you, but here at To The End we love a good debate, and we think nothing gets a conversation started better than getting your audience involved in giving their opinions.
Cats v dogs, Apple v Android, Man united v Man city, Daddy v chips! You don’t have to pick a taboo or political subject and you don’t even have to pick a side, just plant the seed and stay on the sidelines while people engage on their own.
A great example of this was the nostalgic advert from the early noughties, so popular that the game of deciding between two things has been named in the urban dictionary as ‘daddy or chips’.
4. Get real
Get real with your target market, by humanising your content. People buy from people and, just like people, brands need to be human.
You don’t have to look too far to realise this works in all walks of life; how many people do you know who would rather deal with a human being than an automated call centre system?
You can capitalise on the human side of your brand by being human in your content. And remember, just like humans, brands are not perfect. They make mistakes and they can laugh at themselves. The more serious the brand, the more effective the self-deprecation can be.
5. Pass the tissues
Everyone secretly loves a good sob story, and it has never been more evident in the world of content marketing! Ads laced with sentiment can make the difference between a thought and a reaction, and can evoke an emotional response that resonates with your audience, making you stand out.
Take last years John Lewis advert – what does a stuffed penguin that is longing for a mate actually have to do with John Lewis? Very little! Yet the story of Monty the Penguin was shared 202,953 times in its first 24 hours online, 14,500 people have mentioned on social media that the advert made them cry, while more than 3,500 people claim they now want a pet penguin!
The same approach can be taken to empower your audience to engage. Emotions are the main reason people make decisions, so by stimulating your audience’s emotions they will be more likely to act on their thoughts.
People love a good underdog story or a debunked myth that makes us see ourselves differently. Use this emotion to create powerful content that challenges the emotional responses of your audience.
6. Just keep swimming – the opposite way
You might be surprised how many people like to swim against the current when it comes to the majority vote. A controversial way to engage is by breaking the mould, and doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Doing so immediately inserts your content right where you want it – into relevancy.
7. Value your content
Creating content that can be used as a free resource does not mean churning out endless articles replete with shameless plugs and links to your product pages.
It means investing time in creating something of value to people. It can be as simple as one piece of useful, well-designed content, like a cooking cheat sheet or how-to-guide.
By using relevant content to become a trusted resource for valuable information, your content will enjoy increased longevity.
8. Play your best cards
Some of the best light bulb moments are potentially little gems that could already at your fingertips. It is easy to forget that most businesses possess some of the most valuable, interesting, and rare information available.
From airlines owning data on the best time to buy plane tickets to insurance companies knowing the safest times to drive, there is bound to be a piece of useful data your brand owns that it can use to create genuinely unique content.
9. Pin your lug holes back
This key principle is often overlooked, but can be a valuable source of information when creating compelling content: listen to your customers.
They are interested in your brand, and if you listen they are asking questions about your brand everywhere, via your customer service team, internal website searches and social media platforms.
Identify trends in the questions they are asking and feed them the content before they even realize they are asking for it. The content might not go viral, but your customers will appreciate it and that’s a big high five!
10. Roll up your sleeves
Don’t underestimate the hard work involved in content marketing, but if you work hard for your content, your content will work hard for you.
If you are thinking of creating a new online resource, research what’s already out there, and create something better! Whatever you choose to do, make sure your voice can be heard above all the other chatter.
There are no shortcuts in content marketing. Awesome content requires effort and time, but it’s completely worth it. If you’re not including content marketing as part of your marketing strategy, it is well worth considering. Content marketing provides an emotional engagement you will struggle to achieve through traditional marketing alone.
So there you have it, just a few tips from us at To The End to help you to create content that compels people to consume it. This is not an exhaustive list but our hacks all have one thing in common: they all start with a great insight to help us get inside of the mind of our audience. Start building that emotional bond and elevate your awesomeness!