Is Your Content Hurting Your BusinessBy Merlin Ward

Your business is unique.

It has its own voice, brand, values, and culture.

You’ve worked hard at setting it apart from your competitors.

You’ve created a unique customer experience.

Your customers are passionate about the brand.

So why settle for best practices?

Great Content Tells Great Stories

Content tells your story post-by-post. It drives the consumer experience and relationship.

Best practices work for the average business, but no one wants an average business. Best practices assume all content is the same.

But it’s not.

Content helps you maintain your unique values, and it’s a crucial part of your business growth to the No. 1 spot!

Content and the Optimization Game

“Cute” and “LOL” content might get engagement and shares on the social networks, but this kind of content probably won’t drive your business forward.

Your story, brand, and content should all support your business goals. Together, they drive awareness, build your community, inspire product innovation, or drive sales.

A recent study by The University of Pennsylvania examined the role of emotion in driving reach through content on The New York Times website.

Top performing content was found to have emotional undertones of anger, awe, and anxiety.

A separate study by Fractl examined the top image content on Reddit, and found content that evoked surprise and amazement had the highest rating, while anger played a minor role.

It’s clear the two websites’ audiences are very different in their emotional connections to the content produced.

With this kind of analysis, you can bet your content is connecting the right way and driving the right behaviors.

Engaging Mediocre Content is Still Mediocre

Your content should be based on the insights you’ve gathered on your audience: Who they are, what their interests are, their daily activities, their worldview – everything that makes them tick.

Appeal to your audience.

Take a stand on issues that affect their lives, and don’t be afraid to rattle the cage.

You do not need to appeal to the masses.

You need to appeal with the people that believe (or could believe) your product or service is the best.

Companies and Micro-Communities

There is lots of opportunity to market to micro-communities with specific interests, beliefs, and world views.

Companies such as Barkbox, Seamless, FAB, Dollar Shave Club, and Birchbox have all grown their businesses through very specific insights. They’ve been successful in delivering what their customers want.

Their online content rides on the natural behaviors their customers have. The blog posts and social shares trigger the right emotions based on common beliefs.

They helped their customers become their voice. They can optimize because they started with the right insights.

Mediocre content is for the average business. Best practices are for the average business. Nobody wants an average business. Optimizing the right content creates the right business, the right following, the right engagement, and the right growth.

Start with “who” and “why” to build your strategy first. Only then, can you optimize the “what” and “where.”

Merlin Ward

Merlin U Ward is an author, passionate marketer, strategist, and beer geek. He is a proponent of building better business and doing better marketing through better understanding of your customers. His book “You Get What You Give” explores five distinct social media marketing strategies that strengthen the customer and brand relationship. You'll find him in the mix enjoying good beer and wearing funky socks!

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