The word “content” gets thrown around so much these days that it’s become slightly convoluted. Yes, businesses do need to produce content and distribute it to increase visibility and grow their brand, but throwing words against the wall won’t do you any good. At the end of the day, content creation is about telling a story. And with so many different brand stories saturating the market, the ones that will stand out are the ones that are authentic. Consumers can smell flimsy, inauthentic content from a mile away; if you stuff your blogs with keywords or come across like a used car salesman, you don’t stand a chance of surviving in today’s era of shortened attention spans and an increased desire for transparency. What your company should aim for when it comes to content creation is, at the end of the day, what we all crave: authenticity. It’s time to get real.
Stop being overly promotional
Show of hands: who likes listening to commercials? Didn’t think so. Our attention spans are shrinking by the day, and people can quickly identify if an “article” is really just a longform advertisement. People search for answers to their problems on the internet. They want to be informed, educated, and to walk away with a new insight or fresh perspective. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, frankly, my dear, they don’t give a damn about how great you are. You have to show them you’re great by providing something to them, no-strings attached. What can your content do for your reader? Don’t sell in your blogs: inform. Educate. Tell them a story. This is how you earn their trust—and yes, potentially their purchasing trust, later on.
Companies—and the people behind them—love to talk about their successes, but rarely do they address their shortcomings. But our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and failures are often our greatest opportunities for growth. When you’re writing content like personal essays or articles in the first person, don’t be afraid to talk about mistakes and missteps you’ve made. Articles about things you “wish you’d known,” areas in which you’ve grown, or obstacles you’ve had to overcome are incredibly helpful to other people—and they’re highly shareable. In today’s age of lifestyle bloggers and influencers, brands have to compete with those “oversharing” personalities, the most successful of which are usually people that keep it real, incorporate some levity into their content, and open up about their vulnerabilities in a humble way.
Remember who you’re talking to
Along the same vein as being overly promotional, I see a lot of people who create content without thinking of their audience. You may not be physically next to your audience, but you’re still talking to them. Consider the tone you take; don’t be condescending but don’t underestimate their intelligence, either. Truly take the time to picture your ideal reader or customer and think of how you can help them. What is their day-to-day life like? What kind of content can improve their life? What do they value? What are their biggest challenges? People want information that will solve problems, inform them, improve their lives, or open their minds. Tell your story in a way that will deliver the most benefit for them. An article about retirement funds aimed at baby boomers can and should be formatted and written differently than an article written about Snapchat trends aimed at Gen Z’ers.
Don’t be afraid to be the first or only
Digital marketing is a competitive world. As such, many companies feel desperate to churn out a lot of content in a short amount of time, often at the expense of that content’s quality or purpose. To do this, they tend to copy specific formats that they see other people using successfully. This isn’t wrong—you want to learn from successful companies and how they’ve established themselves. But you also shouldn’t be afraid to branch out once in a while and try something new. Don’t be afraid to create content that nobody has thought of yet, and present it in a style that’s uniquely you. If you do what’s authentic for your company, do it well, and do it consistently, you will establish yourself as a content leader in your field.