There are countless different types of content, covering different topics in different styles and with varying degrees of depth. The underlying purposes behind content – to inform, inspire, or even incite a specific emotional response in the target audience – are as diverse as the range of content itself. Regardless of purpose, for content to be effective, it needs to create engagement, so here are a few things we should consider in order to draw attention to our content.
Knowing our audience
Just like catching different types of fish requires knowledge of lures, knowing who we’re trying to attract with our content is important. If we’re trying to draw in a broad audience, keeping things simple and easier to understand makes the most sense. If we’re writing a blog about supercars and our target audience is mainly dedicated enthusiasts, including technical details and going into depth on features and performance might be the best way to keep people interested.
Creating a challenge or contest for our audience
People are competitive by nature. Encouraging that is a great way to engage our audience. If we have a photography website, we might allow visitors to enter their photos into a contest and have our viewing audience select the winner. Even if we can’t afford to fund some sort of flashy prize, people will take pride in winning and getting recognition on our website. If our website has email subscribers, we could also hold monthly drawings where we pick a winner at random from our subscriber base. This encourages people to stay connected, giving our content increased exposure to those mostly likely to be engaged with it.
Adding a visual aid to increase interest
It’s no secret that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. We should consider the rise of the currently diseased Vine, a service where users used to upload 6-second video clips. 6 seconds! That might seem like an impossibly short amount of time to capture someone’s attention without resorting to a video involving a cat and a ceiling fan, but visual aids like charts or graphs – to display statistics for example – enable our audience to absorb information and connect with our material more quickly than reading it in paragraph form.
Reporting on trends to keep our audience updated
According to statista.com, by the end of 2016, there will be 2.1 billion smartphone users worldwide. These users are plugged in to a vast amount of information, and news is able to circulate lightning fast around the globe. Reporting or commentary based on current events, from local to international in scale depending on who we want to connect with, is a great wait to keep our audience up-to-date and build a base of regular viewers or visitors. People also connect with each other by discussing news and trends, giving them an additional reason to be engaged with fresh content.
Giving our audience something to look forward to
Just like fresh content in number 4 keeps people coming back, giving our audience a teaser of what is to come engages them with content that hasn’t even been created or released and leaves them with something to look forward to. This can take many different forms. If our blog features polls, opening a poll on Monday and including that we are tallying and publishing the findings on Friday makes people more likely to come back in order to find out the results. While they’re visiting, we have an extra opportunity to engage them with additional content. It’s worth noting that polls are more beneficial if they are somehow connected to the rest of our content. For instance, if we have a blog about running, we’re better off basing our poll on something that our target audience cares about, like the best types of running shoes, than on arbitrary things like who they think will win an election or make it to the next round of a reality TV show. That way the people who return for the results are people who are more likely to be engaged by the latest content we’ve created.
In summation, content is extremely broad and encompasses all the examples we’ve discussed and many, many more. Certain themes remain consistent, however, across a wide range of material. Ultimately, engaging our audience using some of the above techniques will increase the effectiveness of our content, whatever its purpose.