Most brands have informative content production down to a science. They hit “go” on the production pipeline and can produce dozens of helpful articles in a limited timeframe. While this type of content is important, it’s missing something crucial: the human experience. Consumers can go online anywhere and discover third person narratives from ambiguous authors (read: it’s not that unique or special). What they may not find elsewhere is an identifiable voice that they connect with on a personal, emotional level.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the CEO or a random writer needs to speak from a first-person perspective for every post. It does mean that brands need to tap into real world experiences more often instead of relying on statistics, lofty advice, and generic examples.
The bad news is that this type of content generation takes a concerted effort and time. The good news is that you already have the resources you need at your disposal: the people you know.
Diversifying the Content Production Process
As a content writer, I try to keep my own voice out of much of what I write. However, the added touch of an individual personality really goes a long way toward making a piece resonate with audience members. I would argue that it makes content more authentic and credible than, say, including every statistic and chart you can find and writing from the perspective of an omniscient narrator. I’m more interested in what you, as a professional, think about the topic at hand.
If your content needs a little spice this summer, try tapping into your human capital with these tips:
- Take advantage of user generation. User generated content is revving up. Instead of selling your product or service, invite consumers to do your marketing for you. Go beyond the few case studies you’ve carefully edited, and give selected consumers an opportunity to share their perspectives.
Recently, Adobe acquired Livefyre, a content curation company focused on user-generated material. The company believes that users will play an important role in helping brands develop credibility and trustworthiness. Consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they can access branded marketing materials and reviews/user-generated materials.
- Include your employees. Many, if not most, companies limit their content writing attributions to certain individuals. As a result, readers see a very narrow perspective. In small operations, this may not make much of a difference—but in larger companies, it damages believability. Your employees are on the ground every day interacting with consumers and clients and keeping the business afloat. They likely have some valuable insights to share.
According to a State of Small Business Report from 2016, few companies actually involve their employees in marketing material creation or management. Empower your employees to play a role in marketing. You may find that the move also improves morale and job satisfaction.
- Involve influencers. Audience influencers already have a loyal online following via blogs, video, or social media sites. They may be CEOs, professionals, writers, and others who stand out as recognized authorities in their field. Bill Gates tops the LinkedIn influencer list, and Richard Branson comes in second. Some influencers may not have the same high profile, but they’ll add value to your content strategy. Explore earning influencer-generated content to add a new voice to the mix and expand your reach.
- Crowdsource it. Instead of telling your audience what you know, ask readers what they know. Content that isn’t in the form of an article is en vogue right now. Add a survey, quiz, or interactive game to your website and see what happens. You’ll get to see several different perspectives with minimal work. All you have to do is wait for the results. Use the insights to drive additional campaigns. Readers pay attention to interactive content that invites them to test their health IQs or find out which type of house fits their personalities.
- Explore different formats. If you can’t find someone to add a different perspective one week, try changing up the format of your content. If you typically publish paragraph-driven pieces, turn them into bulleted lists. Use an infographic maker to boil down complex research into a visual aid.
- Let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to editorialize in a blog post or on social media. Tell a funny story about the workplace, and then move into a big picture issue, highlight employees who dedicate their time to charities, or vent about a problem plaguing the industry.
You don’t always need to have all the answers to relate to your audience. For a B2B company, voicing a concern that hasn’t been adequately addressed (such as fears about the next Google algorithm update or a product launch) may give your brand some sympathetic engagement.
- Have some fun. Some of the best content campaigns turn a boring topic into a parody or drama. As an attorney, for example, you could follow an impactful case in the media with newspaper-like headlines and short updates every day or two.
Recruiters might place old-fashioned “Wanted” posters online instead of traditional job posts. A retailer might introduce a new product line with a video of a product ambassador being interviewed on the “red carpet.” Tell a story or satirize another popular campaign. While some ideas are slightly out there, they add a certain joie de vivre to a typically mundane spiel.
- Keep it going. Someone may decline to write or speak for a piece of content this month but have an opening for next month. Add a few different pieces to every campaign to ramp up interest levels and maintain content as a key marketing focus.
In the world of marketing, content must include personally relevant messages. Focus on pieces that position your company as an authority and an accessible resource. Keep it friendly. Keep it simple. Keep it you.
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