Customers are increasingly facing a tyranny of choice when it comes to content, bombarded from all sides by a sea of noise – from websites, to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to name but a few. There are roughly 1.2 million apps available to download from iTunes, Facebook users are uploading over 350 million new photos every day and there are four million songs on Spotify that have not even been listened to.
Not only this, but the amount of devices that people are accessing content from is rapidly expanding. Individuals routinely source content through a mix of PCs, smartphones and tablets.
From multi-national corporations – with scores of local websites across the globe – to home grown start-ups – with an array of social media accounts to manage – maintaining a variety of digital outlets is now the lifeblood of modern business. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are so keen to jump on the digital bandwagon and not be left behind, that many go for the approach of ‘he who shouts loudest is most likely to be heard’ – churning out more and more content in a bid to be noticed.
It is not just competitors that businesses need to stand out from, smart phones and tablets have enabled everyone to become content creators, adding yet more collateral to an already immensely crowded marketplace. Increasingly, consumers are buying in to the authenticity of these new content creators and YouTube stars, regardless of whether there is any substance behind the noise.
While all this choice is on the one hand undoubtedly a good thing, it does make standing out from the crowd and actually forming a connection with people increasingly difficult. Given that there are literally seconds in which to catch someone’s attention, how can businesses ensure that their content not only gets noticed but actually makes people react and then take action? I believe the three steps outlined below hold the key.
1. It’s all about engagement
Perhaps because there is just so much choice available digitally, individuals and businesses alike tend to stick to the same old content, using the same websites and apps they are used to, as if on auto-pilot. This passive consumption leads to little engagement. In order to encourage people to change these deeply entrenched habits, content needs to really engage and have meaning.
What is important here is to avoid confusing meaning with volume. The old adage ‘quality not quantity’ still very much rings true. Taking a scattergun approach to pushing out reams and reams of content is neither helpful nor a good use of time. This broadcast method of shouting at the world and expecting them to take notice is both outdated and expensive.
To truly add meaning, and cut through the noise there are four key questions I recommend asking about all content:
- Is it significant to your audience?
- Does it have purpose?
- Will it add value?
- Will it encourage people to take action?
Only when the answer to the above is a resounding ‘yes’ can there be any hope of actively engaging with audiences.
2. Choose your weapon widely
We live in an age where there are many, many channels that can be utilised to get content and messages out to audiences. Do not be fooled into thinking there is a magic one-size fits all approach though. What is absolutely crucial is to remember that people should be at the very core of all marketing initiatives. It is very easy to become so blinded by all the fantastic, readily available technology that the people you are trying to reach using this technology are no longer the focus. Technology will always change, so the key is to find ways to use it to bring your content to life.
Really get to know your audience and how they digest information and then use this knowledge to your advantage. Everyone is different, so give them different content in different ways! After all, if everything is the same, nothing stands out.
The content is out there, instead of adding to it, use it – but use it in new and imaginative ways. Don’t necessarily look to recreate something that already has a role in peoples’ lives if you can use what already exists. One great way to do this is to position yourself as facilitating conversations rather than controlling them.
3. Move over content, it’s all about the context
It is fairly well accepted now (and indeed expected) that smart devices are clever enough to deliver relevant content for a user – the next step will be for these devices to provide the appropriate content in the right context.
This will mean creating a personalised eco-system around an individual, regardless of location, using a network of devices that will determine their roles dependent on location, time of day and relationship with other devices, allowing devices to ‘talk’ to each other to perform complimentary but distinct services.
Ensuring your content gets noticed and, perhaps more importantly, acted on, is no mean feat. However, by really knowing your audience and the channels they use, as well as being clever and creative in your approach, it is most definitely something that is within your reach.
By James Deeley, Creative Strategy Director at Amaze.
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