Making content is easy(ish), getting anyone to consume it is the hard (nay, impossible) part. Wondering why? Just take a quick look at this chart from SmartInsights and HubSpot, which lays out how much content is published on the most popular platforms in a matter of 60 seconds:
Well, in their first “Status Update” of the year, The Social Lights, a social media analytics company I have written about before, tackled this very issue. As they term it: “Problem: How can you generate deeper, more meaningful engagement?”
While their research is geared towards “brands” (by my count the word appears about 1.3x a page), we’re all brands, so let’s take a few notes for ourselves, content creators. After all, Ralph Lauren was once simply a dude named Ralph Lifshitz who made clothes.
Cut Down On The Amount Of Passive Content You Share-
Don’t let your viewers be like this guy. [Photo Courtesy Javier Canada]
- Referencing Facebook’s recent algorithm change shifting away from branded content towards posts from “friends, family, and groups,” TSL argues that instead of panicking, this should refocus content creators, forcing them to streamline their production. This includes, for example, posting content “your audience wants to see” not “what you want to show them.”
- While this seems obvious, it can often be forgotten in an age in which a throw-it-all-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks mentality is pervasive (see the bloated lengths of Drakes’ and Migos’ recent output, for example). Rather than sharing everything you want to share, share what others want to see. It will ultimately be consumer’s interaction with any one piece of content that lends traction to your work, not simply the quantity of content you supply.
- Another way to do this is through live content which, because of its quick shelf life, can engage a consumer’s sense of FOMO (see HQTrivia for more on that). This could mean broadcasting your work process, hosting a live talk show, or even simply opening up a live group chat alongside pre-recorded recorded content. As long as there is something for the viewer to do–whether that means making sure they arrive in time to catch the broadcast or simply giving them the opportunity to to chime in–you’re on the right track.
Improve Feed Algorithms and Discoverability To Connect Users To Relevant Content-
Lead the way. [Photograph Courtesy Austin Ban]
- No one likes being stuck at the airport. Having recently arrived in a foreign destination, one immediately searches for the comfort of a driver or tour guide who knows exactly where you want to go and will take you there, no questions asked. The same should go for your website.
- The key here is giving people the content that they want, not just what you happen to be displaying. A good example provided by TSL is “Recommended Posts” on Instagram, the “Explore Feed” on Facebook, and “Happening Now” on Twitter. What these brands were able to do was to find out what specific interests their clientele had (for Facebook this is a motivation to “explore” their digital community, while for Twitter it’s a desire to keep up to date with the “now”) and offer them that experience in an easy-to-use manner.
- As an example, let’s say we are a social media influencer setting up a website for fans and partnerships alike. It would be helpful to have separate tabs for : a.) those who want to keep up to date on my current status, b.) those who want to see certain locations I have visited and c.) those who want to advertise with me. By labelling these clearly, I allow the user to get what they want, and fast.
Give Consumers a Stronger Voice-
OK maybe not that strong. [Photograph Courtesy Gabriel Matula]
- So you’ve got an active, captive audience watching your every (live) move and commenting alongside. Where do you from here? The answer–and this may be uncomfortable for content creators working in the classic “artist as singular genius” mode–is to give viewers an active voice, allowing them to make decisions on the future of your brand.
- Instagram, for example, recently unveiled “polls,” which allows users to post binary questions alongside their Stories. I myself was recently the subject of a poll and found out that (unsurprisingly) my opinions are wildly unpopular. If I was a wily marketer, I would instantly change my views to fall more in line with the general public, while giving them credit for educating me on my intellectual weakness.
- Utilizing polls or similar features allows a creator not only to take the pulse of their audience, but to show their audience the impact they’re having on one’s work. Marxist alienation questions aside, that’s a pretty cool experience for the user, and one they’re likely to continue to engage with as they view their own contributions come to fruition.
Now go get noticed.
Feature Image Courtesy Seth Reese