If you have been creating content for a while, you would know that it is not, by far, an easy task. Your ultimate goal, as a marketer, is not only to create content that converts, but also content that connects and inspires your audience to build stronger relationships with you.
Some pieces of content that you create will be amazing – they may get shared by a lot of people across all social media channels. And then there will some pieces of content that will be just as amazing, but will get lost in the sea of content across the entirety of the internet. It may not generate leads, it may not spark a conversation, it may not reach the people in ways that you intended.
Fact: 87% of content writers are still struggling to create content that engages their customers.
So how do you avoid that? How do you actively create content that encourages your audience to engage? How do you create content that connects and inspires?
What you say is important, but how you say it, is really what makes all the difference.
In this post, we have compiled 5 tips that we find useful when creating engaging content that inspires and converts.
Disclaimer: we’re not saying that adhering to the following will guarantee a viral post – just that these are a few tips you could use to create content of good quality.
1. Put Your Audience First
What makes good content on social media?
It is a well known fact when it comes to business, that if you are not meeting the needs and desires of your audience, you are definitely going to fail. This extends to content creation as well. This is a no-brainer.
When you know who your ideal, target audience is and what their general view of the world is like, you are one step closer to delivering to them the kind of content they would like to consume.
You can use third-party tools like Unbox Social to understand your audience better. When you understand what their perception of the world is like, you can craft your content in a way that is bound to resonate strongly with them – and in doing so, you will help your audience relate to you, connect with you.
Your word choice is what really matters here. There are many ways to get across a single fact – the words you choose to get it across determine your tone, your attitude, and voice.
When trying to appeal to an audience that is enthusiastic about yoga, for instance, you would want to use soft, but positive words such as ‘balance’, ‘healthier’, ‘invigorate’, ‘calming’. You would also want to use spiritual quotes.
You can cater to your audience’s beliefs and worldview by simply using words that you know will affect them deeply. For example, a simple word ‘green’ can provoke a lot of reactions from people with a positive environmental worldview.
Remember that your content will not have the same desired effect on everyone. You should not be aiming to please everyone in the first place, you should be aiming to engage only your target audience.
Your words should reflect your brand voice and personality. Your content should have keywords, terms and phrases that your audience can understand and relate to – which is why it is so important to know your audience well before you try to create content that connects with them.
2. Use Emotion To Inspire
With the screen in between you and your audience, there is a distance that you have to overcome in order to really connect with them. Overcoming that distance is not easy, but if there is one way to go about it efficiently, it is through emotion.
The power of human emotion cannot be neglected. It is the very thing that shapes our reactions to the world around us. Which is why the emotion you evoke with your content plays a significant role in what your audience feels towards your brand.
Since the ultimate goal of creating content is to inspire and evoke a feeling of desire in your audience, you need to appeal to their emotions.
Think about the last story that inspired you. The reason it is so deeply ingrained in your memory is likely due to the fact that you had a strong emotional reaction to it. It made you feel something – be it happiness, hope, anger or fear.
So how do you create content that evokes an emotional reaction to the information you are trying to present?
Create a sense of community
People enjoy knowing that there are others out there facing the same problems and even enjoying the same things that they are.
People want to get better in every aspect of their life. Frame your content in such a way that you offer them that self-improvement. Use titles such as “Mistakes to Avoid When …” or “10 Ways You Can Do … Better” or “Ultimate Guide to …”
Appeal to the fear
Fear is the greatest motivator. Present your content in a way that relates to the fear of missing out, the fear of not knowing, the fear of being cheated. These bring out a sense of curiosity in a reader. Present your content around titles like “Things You Don’t Know About …” or “10 Secrets About …”
Nostalgia can be great to pull people back from reality to remind them of a better time. It has also been reported to heighten creativity. Nostalgia brings with it the longing for reliving the same kind of past experiences and hence sparks creativity. It increases social-connectedness, which fosters self-esteem and eventually leads to a boost in motivation. So dig out vintage photographs, revisit heritage, flashback to simpler times, contrast the ‘then’ versus the ‘now’. A great example is McDonald’s Time After Time commercial, which induces nostalgia and inspires parents to connect with their children, and at the same time makes us nostalgic for the brand.
Anger can drive people to take action. The shared outrage around a situation can inspire people to share your content, to engage or to even take action on their own just to support the cause. Use words such as “terrible”, “appalling”, “outrageous”, “unjustified”, “scandal”, and more. Use time relevant, sensitive topics and invite people to talk about them.
Ask difficult questions
Deal with questions that maybe your audience is too afraid to ask themselves. Push their buttons to start making them think. This will not only pique their interest, but also itch for any solution that you may be ready to provide.
Use images, videos, music
Using images, videos and music, you can create a vibe and control the emotion that you want to elicit.
3. Invite Your Audience Into The Conversation
Let’s be real – your content mainly exists for you to promote your brand. But if your content only ever promotes your brand without providing any real value information, then no one is going to trust what you have say.
But your audience is not looking for just facts and numbers, either. They are looking for genuine advice from a genuine person, someone just like themselves.
Which means you need to write like you talk. Remember that content, while seeming like a one-sided communication, is anything but. If you expect your readers to engage with you, you need to invite them into the conversation.
Pour your heart into the conversation. Make it individual. Express your opinions. Make it true to your own set of beliefs.
This does not mean that you ignore your brand’s voice and tone guidelines or even lose sight of your end goal. You can do all of the above and still back it up with valid statistics and compelling arguments.
If you want people to engage, a simple CTA can do wonders. But simply getting people to like and comment makes little sense if they are not actually participating in the conversation. So how can you involve them?
Here are some social media content ideas and available tools that you can use to create engaging content:
Be it in your captions or at the end of your blog, ask your audience questions that matter. Frame your questions in a way that the answers provide you with valuable insights in your audience’s views.
Hold quizzes and contests
Contests and quizzes are a great way to interact and connect with your audience. Be it Instagram giveaways or contests, people are naturally attracted to the idea of winning free things. If you plan a perfect prize, you also ensure engagement from all the right people that involve your target audience and have a better chance at connecting with potential prospects.
Quizzes, on the other hand, are simply fun. There is a reason Buzzfeed quizzes are so popular – people love sharing the results and connecting with others through them. Of course, you can’t focus all your content in such entertaining quizzes, but you can try to induce your information into a quiz format without making it too boring.
Like quizzes and contests, polls are a great way to invite people to engage with your content. Polls are even more efficient because they require little to no time for participation. Getting quick answers from your audience about what content they’d like to see or simply whether or not they like a product can also help you connect with them and understand them better.
It also suggests to your audience that you care about them and their opinions, which makes it easier for them to relate and trust your brand.
4. Don’t Just Tell, Show
A great part of making content is getting across a piece of information which your reader knows little to nothing about. What many content creators tend to do here, in order to establish authority and trust, is end up slamming the audience with facts and statistics – so much so that the audience is left with more questions than they started with.
To avoid sounding preachy, try empathising with your audience instead of just sympathising with them. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself which advice you would like to hear in their situation. Convince them that you are human too.
By humanising your content, you humanise your brand. You break the wall between you and your audience and come across as a credible source that understands the needs of your audience exactly.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
Use real-life examples
Share your real life experiences that you know your readers can relate to. Did you face the same problems? How difficult did they seem? How did you eventually overcome them? By doing this, you convince your audience that they are not alone.
Tell a story
Build a story around your facts and statistics. When we say build a story, we don’t mean a fictitious one. All you have to do build a strong premise that reads like a story. Give it a beginning, a middle, and an end. Maybe include a fun instance from your life that relates to the situation. Use metaphors and analogies. Make it real.
If you don’t have a story to tell, find someone who does. Bring in experts, influencers and people your audience is likely to admire and respect. Interact with them, collaborate with them or simply ask them a few questions.
It is fairly easy to work with influencers or industry leaders that have an established audience due to social media. Simply interacting with an influencer on Twitter or letting them do an Instagram takeover can not only increase your reach but also helps you establish legitimacy.
Hearing inspirational “how they made it” stories are also quite impactful.
Instead of telling your audience what to do, give them concrete goals to look forward to, idols and examples to follow. Show them how it’s done.
5. Use Visual Content
Be it on your website or blog or even on your Instagram, aesthetic plays a very significant role in inviting a reader to spend more time on your content. Why? Because people form a first impression in a mere 50 milliseconds. So even if your content is great but your visual content simply doesn’t look good, your reader will lose interest quick.
Here’s what we recommend:
Include lots of photos
Your social media content plan should include a lot of visuals. Visual content not only attracts attention, it also allows you to get creative. You can integrate your content with so many visual possibilities.
Create illustrations, infographics, photographs, comics, even GIFs to efficiently reach your audience.
Create video content
Everyone loves watching videos. Especially when that video is educational or informational. 98% of users admit that they have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or a service.
This makes video content the best medium for information or education purposes. Think about Ted-Ed videos, or even just the Ted Talks. Why are they so inspiring and educational? Because they use animations and music and human stories to attract and hold our attention.
Difficult concepts and instructions can be made easy to understand with fun animations like no words or live videos can. And to stress the previous point, videos are great for creating an emotional impact. Hearing and watching an actual narration of a story can evoke a stronger reaction than a simply reading one.
Videos are also more likely to be shared by your audience, hence giving you the chance to boost your visibility and reach more people. The fact that so many social media platforms are now making it easier to upload video content – take a look at IGTV – only proves that the future of videos is bright. Take advantage of these platforms and features and get creative!
If you are finding it difficult to gain traffic or engagement on your content, it is time to strategize and think about how you can improve.
To sum it all up, creating content that connects and inspires is not the easiest task in the world, but there a few ways in which it can be done.
Always put your audience first. Find out their demographics and general interests and then begin to craft your content by keeping that information in mind.
Secondly, recognise the power of emotion. You can plan what kind of emotion you want to evoke through your content, but don’t forget that your objective is to inspire. Evoke anger or nostalgia, appeal to the fear of missing out, offer self-improvement.
Don’t forget to have a genuine conversation through your content in order to connect with your audience. Invite them to be a part of it by bringing in interactive elements.
While having that conversation, don’t just preach. Instead, show concrete results and goals to your audience by telling them stories and giving them examples to follow.
And ultimately, use visual content to get your point across. Video content, especially, is the best medium to get people to connect with you.
We hope that these tips have been helpful and inspiring to you. If you have used any of them, do let us know how it went in the comments!