Don't be a robot - how to create engaging content that has a purpose
By Ian Robson
If there’s one thing I can’t stand in content publishing today, it’s robotic writers driven by robotic editors beholden to robotic publishers and senior managers.
However, add a dash of good ol’ fashioned analogue thinking to your audience data sets and you could create a powerful, uniquely informed and potentially unbeatable engagement strategy - it should never be analogue vs digital audience stats when an informed blend is best!
Instilling your content marketing strategy with journalistic skills in storytelling is one thing; but using long-standing knowledge and experience to help you follow your gut in what to cover, when, how and how much is an approach that some brands just fail to understand the benefits of.
Empirically data-led versus gut
If you just go with your gut today, you will fail – unless you’re very, very lucky.
In truth, nobody really has the opportunity to go with just their gut today because in some way, you will have inevitably gained insight and/or been pointed in the right direction by empirical data.
But on that notion, can you deliver a successful content publishing strategy on empirical data alone?
The principal value in content publishing is connecting with an audience. How you monetise that connection is obviously important; but of paramount importance is how strong your connection with an audience is in the first place.
We often hear these thoughts conveyed by the leaders and innovators of the retail industry, with Jeff Bezos one of the best examples for continuing to grow an Amazon customer base on the principle that every single customer is important and that each and every one of their views must be attended to. This principle should play a strategic role in content publishing too.
Different parts of the content publishing, media and marketing industries convey varying degrees of importance against metrics used to measure the strength of audience connections.
High volume traffic, engagement, data known and acquired, and average revenue per customer are but a few obvious ones; and these can all be diced and sliced to create further perspectives.
But can any of these perspectives create a measurement for customer happiness – or satisfaction, if you want to be glib. And why is happiness (or satisfaction if you must) so important to me?
Want more traffic? Post more stories! Want more customer data? Survey them frequently and/or entrap them with cookies and the like! Want more ARPU? Add more opportunities for them to spend money around their content!
My comments are not meant to convey an insular opinion regards what actions can be taken, just simply that very often actions taken are skewed by an overwhelming desire to satisfy some audience connection metrics over others and all too often at the expense of happiness (or satisfaction, potentially).
None of the above set of actions in isolation will create happiness, but all of them will work more effectively if happiness is present, or should that be satisfaction?
I did not forget engagement
Arguably engagement metrics are the most powerful tools we have today; but again we tend to obsess about the length of time someone spends reading an article, watching a video and exploring sites, or opening many more pages, rather than measuring true happiness - or satisfaction if you really want to press me on the tone of this point.
My counter to standard engagement metrics is that it's fairly easy to skew the length of time someone spends reading an article, watching a video, or exploring sites and opening many more pages through navigational tricks and other smoke and mirrors.
Again, such actions taken can be skewed via an overwhelming desire to hit targets set against measurable engagement metrics - at the expense of happiness. "What, again?"
Happiness is motivational, infectious, influential, uncontrollable and memorable - all in one! Satisfaction is functional - "I know what I need, and that need has been satisfied!"
You cannot measure happiness, so that's why we attempt to measure satisfaction. But what you can do is keep happiness as your filter for viewing real success in connecting with your audience.
We have to stop obsessing over those measurable metrics at the expense of happiness otherwise we'll end up in a business full of fickle, dispassionate and cynically minded people with the most tenuous reasons to connect to us at all.
That Media Thing provides highly skilled content marketing services to suit any budget. Why not drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how our digital publishing heritage can transform your customer engagement.