by Paula Newton and Maria Fonseca
The internet has grown and bloomed. Everywhere, all around the world, content marketers have been adding massive amounts of content to the internet in an attempt to draw people to their businesses. As Greg Satell (2014) of Digital Tonto points out up until the time before the internet there was a limited number of people out there that were able to publish content. Now pretty much anyone can do it and is doing it. The internet has changed a lot over the last years. It is now a “lean forward and participate” medium. All of us participate in it, in an active way. We both create and quickly look for information, and in a snap of a second we decide whether it is interesting or not. But who reads what we write ? If you run a social business or sharing economy enterprise you might be scratching your head right now, pondering why is it that no one is reading what you write.
There are various strategies that can help you create good readable content that still engages others into actually read the content you created.
1. Be clear about your purpose
First and foremost, as a social business or a sharing economy enterprise, you have to be clear about what is your purpose and the reason why you are producing content. Why do you want to tell stories to others ? What kind of facts are the ones you want to share ? Be aware that your field is relatively recent, so it is important to figure out ways to promote your product/ideas to new publics, that might not quite understand them at first. Communication is key.
2. Lead new conversations with your content
In his article about content marketing in general, Satell writes about how important it is that rather than content marketers, simply joining the conversation that is already going on about a subject matter, it is more important to lead new conversations. This is what really stands out and gets noticed. People want to learn something new, and they want value from content marketers. They want to be made to sit up and take notice. This means, according to Satell, having something to say that is of value to people. If you are working in the field of social business or a sharing economy enterprise, your product/company is offering a purpose that goes beyond profit. What new conversations around your product can you lead, that sustain and contribute to your purpose ?
3. Balance creativity with communication
A trap that content marketers all too commonly fall into according to Satell, is putting creativity before clarity. That’s because many marketers want to be seen as and think of themselves as fine, creative and original types. To be creative is always good but never forget that your content’s main purpose is to communicate with others. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What is it that they know about your subject ? Good strategies that you can implement is to use the inverted pyramid style. This means stating your conclusion first, then supporting it with the sentences that follow. This helps readers to quickly get it and move from point to point, and decide where they’d like to dive in deeper. Another strategy could be acting as a copycat: identify between three to five products that have a similar mission. Study them and see what they are doing. How can you adapt their model to your social business enterprise ? A third possibility is to create infographics. You can use new platforms such as Visme, or create your own infographics with the hep of various tools.
4. Grab and hold the attention by being consistent
Another problem that content marketers face is how to hold the attention that you first grabbed. How can your content get the attention in the first place but also make your reader hold onto it ? The answer is to find a proven structure that works. A good strategy might be for example Marvel´s storytelling strategies. Michael Schein studied Marvel´s storytelling format and discovered that: “The key to coming up with great content is creating a system for producing it, and then sticking to that system every time.” Consistency is expected from the readers and if they understand the format, it will easier for them to follow the story.
5. Publishing is Key
Remember: The web is a linking medium. If content used to be King, we are living now in a new type of web world highly shaped by social media and semantic search. And guess what: semantic means “meaning.” The key here is to learn how to publish your content and actively participate in the right forums for you. In the following guide done by Robbie RIchards, the author explains how to promote your content by using various strategies and new tools that allow you to use content curation. One of these is snip.ly. Check it out!
6. Build relationships by engaging with the content of others
Beaware though that social media, is just a way to become more social. As David Armano says: “Media itself is not social. But people are social.” A “social business” needs to engage in meaningful relationships with others. Virtually all of us produce web content nowadays, so it is very important to engage with the content of others, particularly the ones in your field. When researching for your next piece, ask questions, email people that share similar ideas to yours, engage in conversations with influencers. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to do that.
7. Don’t create “content” create dreams and stories
A great story told by Satell in his post makes us go back to our college days, when studying journalism or film. As young students our heads were back then filled with dreams, but those dreams were not the ones of being one day producing meaningless content to get “more traffic”. People do not walk out of the cinema saying “Great content!” because “content” is just a receptacle of something. To succeed in writing meaningful content, one needs to venture herself to become a storyteller. This means not just being gimmicky but really understanding what works well with publishing and what does not, and focusing on being consistent with that and with your purpose. Dare to be bold by becoming the storyteller of your social business.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.