Last week, we discussed the changing realities in the consumer marketplace and how engaging with the various sub-sets of the market has evolved from that which existed years ago. We showed how the public are moving from their primary domain of focus in the past few decades and literally spending more of their time on digital platforms – Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Our pre-occupation here at RED is to shed light on the seemingly unrelated events that are, and will continue to influence consumer behaviour in this fast-paced always-evolving digital world that we now live in.
We aim to help you see the change coming long before it is visible on the horizon for all to see. We will also help you unearth the green lights that will give you free passage and reveal the red light that can stall progress in the new world order.
Definitely, the rules of engagement have changed. We all know that it’s no more business as usual due to the changes that the internet has brought to us in terms of operations and consumer engagement over the past few years.
Even the most traditional of businesses, most traditional of brands, most conservative of executives have come to accept the ‘inevitability’ of the digital age. It is common nowadays to see elderly executives of traditional companies with a deep sense of curiosity and humility, asking for strategies they can adopt to promote their company on social media, from more technology savvy members of staff.
These executives know that clearly the rules have changed and have to learn this new phenomenon. They are now testament to the power of the digital space. It would be foolhardy to be using arrows and bows in their corporate warfare, when everyone has moved on to more effective weapons.
However, the rise in the awareness of the possibilities that exists on digital platforms has led to an equal reaction by businesses, brands and enterprises. More people are now churning out content, content, and more content… without any clear understanding of how these platforms really work, with no deep insights about how to use these content to actualize their overall strategy.
All they know is that consumer attention can now be found on digital platforms, and it is content they can use to retain attention on these platforms. When brands don’t have any core strategy, nor understanding of what makes content tick, then they find themselves generalized by the consumers as their content blends with others jostling for the attention of the consumers, and even worse they could find out that their content is just further alienating the market from their brand.
And since it has been proven that an average consumer in this digital world has an attention span of less than 9 seconds – lesser than that of a goldfish – it is important that your brand creates not just content, but exceptional content.
Not understanding what makes content stick is the same thing as sending soldiers out on the battleground, soldiers with swords, but with no skill in inflicting injury, or even to kill their enemies.
Your content is like a soldier, and its aim is – no, not to kill people – but to convert and make them a part of your large happy family (customer base), if you indeed have a large happy family (more on Product Development in future RED Reports).
But when the edges of your content are blunt, it would only occupy space in the digital sphere, causing disturbance, nuisance and irritation to audiences.
But still Content is king. And since brands know that this is the currency of digital, they end up churning out more and more content even if they would be better off without it.
In order to forestall this, firstly, it is important to understand that this shift of consumers’ attention from traditional platforms to digital platforms will only get bigger and bigger as internet connectivity and broadband penetration improves in countries, meaning that this is a long term play and not a flash in the pan, so there is no need for a knee jerk reaction
So if you, your brand and/or business are not winning at the moment, take a deep breath, it is not the end of the world. The use of content in winning market share is a marathon and not a 100 metre race.
The space will keep getting bigger. Even older professionals who previously have not been too enthusiastic about social media platforms are also joining the bandwagon to make the pie bigger (a team member of ours received a WhatsApp message and countless broadcast messages J from his 60year+ old dad out of the blues last week).
So if you will do content at all, ensure you understand the dynamics and what will lead to great engagement, be ready to experiment, be ready to bring your listening ear.
Creating content to win is an art, one that has to be improved upon continuously as the appetite and passions of the online community fluctuate with its evolution. However, there are some best practices that your content department can learn from existing and past trends on digital to create exceptional content for your brand, because exceptional content is the way to win.
Touching the “Pain Points” of your target audience is one of the ways to ensure you win massively. This is what you should be focused on as a business. After all, you went into business to fill a gap in the market, to solve a problem you had the solution to, and that has gotten you to where you are now, so why not extrapolate that same strategy to your content.
Members of the online community are always scouring the internet, searching for information, searching for succour to their problems and brands that can tap into this need and provide answers to their questions, and sooth the pain they have will have the loyalty of the lot.
Every day there are about 3.4 billion searches conducted on Google over the world and that shows you the extent to which people search for information.
Whatever industry you operate in, there are pain points that your customers have, it is the job of your team to condense these pain points into a list, and then create useful content/information that will help them manage and get over that problem. It is as simple as that.
Touching the pain points of your consumers is all about identifying the questions that people that make up your target audience ask and then proffering solutions to them in the form of content.
A Nigerian company that has performed exceptionally well in this regard is BudgIT – a civic organization which uses an array of tech tools to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising standard of transparency and accountability in government.
The brilliance in BudgIT content strategy was that it was aimed at a pain point that a lot of Nigerians can relate to. For years, Nigeria’s governments had sustained an edge around details about the finances and expenditure of the nation. And Nigerians were not too pleased because they wanted this information, it was their right to know. Even when the figures were released, they weren’t consumable by average Nigerians.
But then BudgIT stepped in to solve this problem using infographics, and they represented Nigeria’s budget and expenditure in graphical format so that everyone in the country can understand it.
They discovered the pain point that we all had, and created a solution for us in form of their content.
Brands have to be proactive about finding the pain points of their consumers, and solving these problems through content. Those that do this successfully will build a large base of loyal evangelists.
In addition to finding the pain points of your customers or people in your target audience, brands have to be genuine and appeal to the emotions/intrinsic desires of people when creating content.
Brands have to understand that selling, selling and selling some more all the time on digital platforms will turn off their audience, it is important for them to try to engage in natural conversations with their users, it is expedient that they understand being genuine in the way they disseminate their content will win them more fans than having social media handles whose automated responses to our enquiries makes us so angry.
They have to understand that winning content that can endear them to audiences more will include sharing their vision, mission and ideals as a company with their target audience and not in the usual, corporate-nonsense-speak that pervades most press releases but in a way that is relatable, in a way that can make people feel that they are part of your story.
Imagine if you as a financial institution who wants to have more deposits from your customers, decides to start a series of researched based content that will help your target audience really increase their financial intelligence and lead to more wealth for them within some years.
Wouldn’t such individuals be loyal for life?
Also appealing to the emotions of people through your content can lead to you kick-starting a viral campaign of user generated content (the joy of any PR professional). Brands like Coca-Cola have mastered the art of using content to appeal to the emotive side of their consumers. Their viral ‘’Share A Coke’’ campaign was based on the premise that the “sweetest sound to any individual in the world is the sound of their name”. They used this need for recognition, this need for importance to create a campaign that was a big as a campaign could get.
If you as a brand can also create content that can appeal to the dreams of your target audience that can appeal to their goals, yearnings and aspirations, then you will be on your way to winning the digital content war with your competitors.
In fact, you will be in a completely ‘Blue Ocean’ as when you are creating exceptionally useful content, your competitors are just creating more content and some more content.
Bringing It All Together
The rules of engagement have changed, and content is not just the king, but the queen, the subjects and the entire empire. The way you approach and execute the creation of content in your business will determine how credible your brand will be with the continually growing community. And since online is where the future of all business is, you might just be digging your grave with each word of content you create that isn’t useful, exceptional and engages with your target audience.
People want genuineness. People want to be cared for. People want your content to leave them better than it met them and if you won’t create genuine content that is useful to your target audience, then you had better not create digital content.
You had better not let me open that article on my smartphone and find out it is crap, because that is when I will really commit to disliking your brand.
The rules of engagements have changed… Time for some new rules!
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