We're living in the midst of a content explosion in social media. Can we survive? Yes, but it will require new skills. As cofounder and CEO of social media platform EveryoneSocial, I see organizations and employee advocates sharing a great deal of content. Some of it is even good. But for maximum success, here are my top 10 tips on how to cut through the marketing clutter in the content you share and learn, instead, to communicate and share like a human being.
1. Write the way you actually talk. First off, in a tip from Melanie Davis of Convince and Convert, practice writing the content you want to share in the way you would actually speak.
For example, consider this piece of information: "Beyond the basic benefit, both individual and spouse buy-up options are available Please note an election of voluntary life coverage for a spouse can equal up to half your individual life buy-up, although depending on the desired level of coverages, EOI may be required."
Huh??? Clear as mud.
Try this instead, Melanie says: "The company is going to buy some life insurance for you. If you want, you can buy extra. Whatever extra life insurance you buy for yourself, you can also buy up to half that amount for your spouse. Now, depending on how much additional insurance you'd like, one or both of you may need to answer some questions about your health to see if you qualify for it." Ah.
2. Let people respond naturally. Here's another tip from Melanie. Instead of the typical web contact form, think about providing something like this:
"We check our email with alarming and unhealthy frequency. Just fill out this form and we'll get back to you on the double."
Hey! My name's _______________ . I'd like to talk to Jellyvision about _____________, so please call me on _______________________ or email me at _________________________.
Oh yeah, and my favorite food is ______________________(in case you ever need to bribe me). Thanks!
Melanie's firm received 83% higher response than from their old traditional form. Surprise!
3. Avoid the Curse of Knowledge. This is a real thing. We know what we know and we tend to assume everybody else will as well. In an actual experiment, individuals who tapped out the rhythm to a familiar tune assumed 50% of people would "get it." Only 2.5% did. The moral of the story: Lose the jargon, if you want your readers to truly understand what you mean.
4. Don't pitch. Here's a tip from speaking expert Ryan Lee, for WhatTheSpeak.com. Ryan understands that if you're like most people, you hate being pitched to and you can smell a marketing pitch from at least 100 yards away.
But Ryan Lee "gets it." He tells his audience up front about how his speak will go. He tells the audience they'll have the opportunity to buy from him, if they choose, when he's done.
His audience loves his candor. Then he gives them quality content and good education, but he's still able to convert sales. The ticket is his honesty. He treats his audience the way he'd want to be treated as well.
5. Use good headlines. When you speak to a friend do you lead into your topic with a boring headline? Of course not! You want to stir the pot and get your audience appropriately excited about what you're going to say. Be true to the promise of the content you're offering, of course. But in a headline, don't be afraid to tell it big!
7. Create a Two-Way Conversation. Remember when you share content that it's a dialogue you're looking for, not a one-way megaphone blast. Respond to comments (politely, if at all possible). If you can't honestly thank your reader for anything else, thank them for taking the time to read and respond. Your willingness to engage will go far.
8. Educate, don't hype. Have you heard the one about the carpet cleaner who created a million dollar career? Actually, this story's a true one: Marketer Joe Polish realized in his 20s that sending direct mail and email on topics like "How to extend the life of your carpet" and "How to choose a reliable cleaner" were much more successful than blaring specials and ads. Pretty soon his business outpaced all others and he became a million dollar enterprise.....by selling his marketing "secrets" to other businesses like his own. Educative marketing. It's a thing. You should try it.
9. Be authentic. Your audience can smell a phony from miles away. Don't create sneaky back links or promos that leave your audience feeling "tricked". Do what you say you'll do. Conduct every aspect of your marketing as if the world is watching from behind the scenes (because increasingly, they are). Be yourself (albeit your very best version of self) and you'll be far better poised to succeed.
10. Tell good stories (about the things people are actually wanting to hear). Would you tell your friends a boring story? No, you wouldn't. Well, at least not for long. Include details. Visual images. Power words. Like blog writer Henneke Duustermaat says "
Seduce your readers into begging for more." Don't put them to sleep.
Have you got the picture? Yes, good content marketing is both an art and a science, but if you can learn to think like a human instead of like a human marketing machine you'll be well ahead of the game.