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The 8 Underused Components of Compelling Content That Readers Love

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Creating Compelling Content for Social Media

Creating a social media post might seem simple, but there are many factors to keep in mind while you craft content for the various platforms. For one, your audiences differ across all social platforms, so when you are writing the copy for a post, you have to make sure you’re writing for the right people.

Content creation, as defined by HubSpot, is “the process of generating topic ideas that appeal to your buyer persona, creating written or visual content around those ideas, and making that information accessible to your audience as a blog, video, or other formats”. Although content creation can take on many forms, it wasn’t always that way when it came to posting on social media.

Over the last few years, creating content for social media platforms has changed due to the updates and redesigns of the platforms themselves. For example, Facebook used to be primarily text updates and statuses of what you were currently doing. Now, Facebook is used for events, video content, live video streams, fundraisers, and birthday reminders, just to name a few. To stay fresh and relevant, the platforms change and adapt with the times, which means your content also needs to stay relevant.

Why is creating content important?

Content creation is important because it allows you to provide free and useful information to your audience, attracting potential customers and prospects to your website, and retain existing customers. In fact, content marketing brings 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less (HubSpot). With that being said, content creation is very important, but taking it one step further, creating compelling content is even more important. Quality over quantity.

However, to start creating compelling content, you need to have a plan and strategy in place to support it. A content strategy includes everything from brand and tone, to how you will promote and release your content.

With that being said, you first need to define your goals. What is the purpose behind your content? What do you want to achieve? Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. In other words, you should be crafting SMART goals that align with your overall marketing and business objectives. Once your goals are defined with a purpose, you now craft a customer persona based on your target audience and who you are trying to reach. Developing your persona also helps you identify the messaging and tone for your content, because, after all, you are talking directly to them! Ultimately, when developing the persona, you should be aware of their obstacles, pain points, challenges, and fears. Similarly, you should understand their best possible outcome, their dream solution. Create content that hits these pain points and expresses how you can help them solve their issues. This is how you can make your content resonate with your audience

However, there is more to it than just creating content for your persona. When it comes to creating the right content, you need to make sure you deliver the content to your audience at the right time to help them through the buyer’s journey. Each of your prospects follows a path to a solution — that path involves awareness, consideration, and decision stages. But each of your prospects is in a different part of that journey, so it’s important to use your content to appeal to each stage.

There are various content formats for each stage which can include videos, webinars, books, blogs, images, etc. But, as I mentioned before, you need to make sure you create content that will resonate with your audience during their buyer’s journey. So, what exactly does that look like? Here is a breakdown of some of the content you can create to help your customers through the journey.

The awareness stage is about getting in front of your audience so they know you exist. They are currently experiencing a problem or challenge. The appropriate content for the awareness stage would include blogs, ebooks, infographics, and social media posts.

The consideration stage is the point when the customer knows they have a challenge or problem and they are actively looking for a solution. At this point, it is very critical to hit those pain points with your content and share how you can help them. Do this with podcasts and webinars to show your expertise.

With that background knowledge, you might be thinking, how do I know what to base the content pieces on? How do I start creating? Content creation starts with an idea or a topic, and you can get these ideas and topics through conducting keyword research, brainstorming with your team, or following along with current industry trends. Knowing what your audience searches for in search engines will be able to provide you with the direction you can take your content. Creating your buyer persona likely gave you some ideas about what topics to write about and what questions your audience might have, which is a great start.

SEO research — a.k.a. keyword research — will show you the search volume of a specific keyword phrase and whether or not it’s worth the investment of creating a piece of content around it. A good way to go about keyword research is to write down some questions that your persona might have based on their obstacles and goals. Then, perform some keyword research around those queries to see if enough people are searching for them. Some tools you can use to do this, are SEMRush, MOZ Keyword Explorer or Google Keyword Planner. Once you determine the keywords you want to base your content on, you can start planning content ideas.

Now that you have created your content based on your customer persona profile and customer journey, backed up with keyword research and various content formats, it’s time to promote your compelling content.

Posting your content on social media is a great way to reach your audience organically. A key to growing organically is to provide value to your audience. There’s a general rule of thumb you should follow that states 70% of your content should be an original value-add content, such as blogs. 20% should be curated content, such as sharing a trend article from an external source. And 10% should be content that sells your products or services. Following this guideline will help you build an audience that doesn’t feel like they are just being sold to, but given free value, which in turn will help you win clients or sell your products or services.

The 8 Underused Components of Compelling Content That Readers Love

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1. Set the stage with your headline

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How BuzzFeed creates a curiosity gap: Buzzfeed is a site similar to Upworthy. Its whole business is based on curating content created by other people that didn’t get much attention when first posted and then applying the curiosity gap principle to the headline.

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This is interesting to them because they want to see if they recognize all the struggles. While they probably could guess many of them, their curiosity would spur them to find out what the rest of them are.

Notice that the word “struggles” was chosen instead of “things”. “Struggles” is more specific (to make sure the gap isn’t too large), and as a bonus, it even taps into the self-deprecating nature of most resident Brits.

Although people are interested in the topic of Planned Parenthood, most only know about the abortion controversies. However, the author knows that Planned Parenthood also provides other valuable, non-controversial, services that help future mothers.

Using that short phrase has the same effect as saying “unexpected” or “surprising.” Now a reader can’t assume that they probably know what the article is about. They have to start reading it if they want to find out.

When you write a headline with a curiosity gap, you’re making a promise to potential readers. If you don’t deliver by truly teaching your readers what you promised (those services had better be non-controversial), they will feel tricked.

2. One dimensional is boring

So, onto the problem at hand. At least for the time being, your content is solely consumed. Unless you’re holding webinars or social media chats, content is produced by you and then read, watched, or listened to by readers.

Formatting is the simplest place to start. Write short paragraphs and sentences that are easy to digest. Use different font sizes, bold, and italicize to emphasize important parts of your article for scanners.

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Going back to our analogy, interactive content is like a professor asking students questions. If it’s an important question that can encourage discussion, it’s a good thing. But if the professor is asking mundane questions, or questions every minute, it will get boring quickly.

3. Immersion is a solid state – don’t break it

However, the part that most bloggers get lazy at is editing. One of the most important jobs of an editor is to make sure that all parts of the article flow smoothly into one another. They should all logically connect to each other.

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Notice that I didn’t just call this section Write good intros and subheadlines. Any skimmer will just say “duh” and keep scrolling. But when you suck a reader in, you get them to read your text—that makes a few good points—in full.

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4. It’s not an article, it’s a story

Always remember that you are telling some sort of a story to your reader. I don’t mean like a fiction novel, but you are illustrating how what you’re writing about fits into your reader’s life, making your reader the “hero” of the story.

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5. If you don’t back it up, your reader will click the “back” button

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Thou shalt incite commotion

Nothing gets a conversation started better than polarizing your audience. Cats vs. dogs, Apple vs. Android, Yankees vs. Red Sox, you name it. You don’t have to pick a taboo or politically divisive subject and you don’t even have to pick a side – just plant the seed and stay on the sidelines while people engage on their own. Travel site First Choice asked Pinterest and Twitter users which country was the most beautiful in the world. Red Bull used Facebook as a battleground for Xbox vs. PlayStation. What better way to get people to share content than provoking them to passionately argue their side?

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Resources:

https://www.keystoneclick.com/resource-library/blog/creating-compelling-content-social-media
https://www.quicksprout.com/the-underused-components-of-compelling-content-that-readers-love/
https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/09/create-compelling-content-2/
https://www.square2marketing.com/blog/the-6-essential-characteristics-of-compelling-content