Content. It’s everywhere, like troll dolls in 1992 or Hotmail addresses in 2001. And, just like everything else, whenever there’s an oversupply or an abundance of something you’ll tend to find the magnificent, the good, the average and the absolute shit.
Here’s five tips to creating more of the former and less of the latter. By Fiona Killackey.
1. Know your purpose
Find your why. You must know what you’re trying to achieve or do with your content or story. What impact do you want it to have on the person consuming it? The Daily Mail reportedly pumps out 1200 articles and 650 videos per day. That may well work for them, but you don’t want to just add to the noise. Are you creating a content series with a lifespan of 24 months or more, that your audience will be part of for years, or are you sharing a fast and furious story that just needs to live for today? Once you know WHY you’re creating content, you can understand what the audience takes from it, decide on the best playgrounds for distribution and ultimately judge whether or not it met your objectives.
2. Good grammar is sexy
A really simple tip, but I’m still shocked at how many people work in “content” without a basic understanding of grammar. Check out things like Stop Grammar Time, start listening to the Grammar Girl podcast or even just buy a copy of The Elements of Style – the bible for anyone working with words. Respect your audience.
3. Be human
It’s a universal rule but it’s so often forgotten. I love data too – you have to working at Amazon – but data is worth nothing without a human analysis. Too often we forget we’re talking to real people and this is where the best storytelling comes in. We relate to our friends and family through stories and yet we forget that trait when conversing about our brand or business. That means there’s no such thing as info@ or noreply@ email addresses. It means 404 pages have the same tone or style as the rest of your brand (if they even have to exist in the first place #whosmaintainingthesite). It also means there’s a real person at the end of your customer service line and you treat each and every online or email interaction with customers/clients/partners with the same dignity and respect – and when suitable, casual tone – as you would “IRL”.
You may well have a list of content campaigns you need to create, but ensure that within that content plan are the needs of your audience and you discover these by listening to them. Listen to what’s happening in the world, listen to the complaints that come in from your customer service team, listen to what the people in your brand/company are excited about, listen to what’s already out there and the reactions to it using tools like Buzzsumo, Google Alerts and Follweronk. Twitter uses their Twitter Event Planner to see what’s worked in the past 12 months and what hasn’t. We have one mouth, two ears. Listen twice as much as you talk.
5. Help, Not Hype
This is a great line from Jay Baer in his book Youtility and one I’ll forever preach. Always ensure you are helping the audience – whether that’s finding a new place to eat, making an informed purchase decision, comparing two of your products or planning their next family break. It needs to be all about them, not about you. Anything else is just ego.
Fiona Killackey has worked with content since 2001 in roles including copywriter, magazine editor, ghostwriter, journalist, book editor, lead site merchandiser, marketing specialist, brand content manager, head of marketing and brand consultant.
Fiona is part of The Future of Creative Content panel and workshops, 1-5pm, Saturday August 27th 2016.