Winning the Content Wars

We're battling against serious content clutter (source of image)

Every day, companies generate tonnes of content on social platforms like blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and more. Ranging from text, photos, videos, podcasts, to games and apps, the aim of these content marketing efforts are several fold:

1) Attract attention - the louder the better;

2) Generate interest and hopefully desire in their products and services;

3) Excite consumers enough to get them to talk about a product, service, or company and spread it to their networks; and

4) Achieve a tangible outcome - recruit members, e-newsletter sign-ups, participation, or sales (the ultimate holy grail).

On the other side of the digital fence, however, we consumers are fed a never ending stream of goodies from friends, family members, groups, clubs and companies. Our feeds are bursting with compelling stuff - photos of newborn babies, news on the latest global disaster, delectable pastries from a friend's heavenly high tea, a funny parody video, and so on.

How can companies hope to get noticed against such a never-ending onslaught? I mean, who wants to read about your 100% natural organic ingredients, 20 new features, or free software upgrade when they'd rather find out who Bob's newest girlfriend is, or how Amy's 21st birthday party went?

As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. In other words, don't try to fight against the most savvy content creators on social networks. Rather, embrace their methods and use them to your advantage.

For a start, use your heart instead of your head. Appeal to the emotional triggers of your targeted consumers. Instead of flashing a photo of your restaurant, or a video boasting about your new features, create a sentimental story that focuses on the lives of your customers. Show how your product is woven into their lives during their most significant moments.

This brings me to the second related point - that it is all about them, not you. Instead of talking about the technical superiority of your products or services, emphasise how they can help your customers to be better loved, more popular, or cleverer in the eyes of their most important stakeholders. WIIFM (What's In It For Me) is more relevant than ever in the age of the self-indulgent social web.

Next, examine the cultural contexts of your audiences. How should you craft your headlines to grab their attention while being honest? What are they most likely to be worried or concerned about in this present time? Match your words and visuals with what's relevant and real to your customers.

To create engaging content, consider the three "HU"s, namely:

1) Humour - Everybody needs a little fun in their lives, especially when they're peering into their smartphones during rush hour on a crowded train;

2) Humility - People are sick and tired of endless corporate boasts. Instead of saying that you're the number one all the time, demonstrate how hard you work to make things better for your customer;

3) Humanity - Nobody likes dealing with a cold, heartless and faceless organisation. To strike a chord with your audiences, show them your personal side. You'll be surprised how interested people can be in the lives of corporate chieftains.

Finally, consider hiring the best creative minds that money can buy, but make sure these guys understand how things work in social media. While big ideas may generate some traction, it is probably more important to build long-term relationships.

Remember that content marketing isn't just a 100 metre sprint, but a marathon.

Are there other ways for us to win the content wars?

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