All content writers face the same challenge. With the huge sea of content out there, and a sea that continues to expand, how do they craft content that users will find informative and so engaging that readers stay and consume?
Most people overlook the factor of their CMS platform. For example, WordPress and Drupal offer different customization, management, and maintenance options compared to each other. Not only that, but they make some things easier or harder than the competition. Not every CMS platform is adequate for running an efficient e-store or a forum for discussion and interaction. That’s why your platform of choice is as important as the content you create for it.
There is no “magic bullet” here, and it’s hard to determine exactly why some content goes viral and other does not. And yet, there are certain elements that are common and give it a better chance. Here are eight of them.
1. Know Thy Audience
This is so basic, it hardly needs mentioning. However, how much research have you really done on your target audience?
Most content marketers have isolated age, gender, educational and socio-economic status, and “pain points” of their audiences. You can segment your work into content creation stages once you have done that.
For example, you can categorize your WordPress CMS content into different tags so that it’s easier to manage and filter through. This will allow you to maintain a healthy pipeline of content even if you have two or more different groups of people present on the website. They have probably developed a persona and write their content with that persona in mind.
Here are some other pieces of information that will prove valuable.
- Who does your audience “follow” on social media? There are lots of macro and micro-influencers out there with their unique use of humor and style. Understanding these will help you incorporate those language styles and types of humor.
- What trends are popular with your audience? Younger audiences, for example, are heavily into Rick and Morty, and Game of Thrones. Many age demographics are into Star Wars, especially because of the new recent release. How can you incorporate these popular trends in the content you create?
- Have you actually asked your customers/followers what topics are most important to them? If not, start now and do so on a regular basis.
- Does your audience enjoy interacting with one another or are they product-centric?
2. Keep your Content Clean and Structured
Readers hate the mess, and if you want success in your writing, it is wise to invest resources in double checking and improving your content. There are two options: the in-house editor that enhances the posts, or a set of the following tools and services that do the job for you:
- Grammarly: a must-have for every content creator. Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Plagiarism Checker: if you outsource your content, it is important to get the proofs of content uniqueness in order to get it ranked better, and this tool checks the writing all over the web to find plagiarized text and prevent it from getting to your website.
- Flash Essay: a team of professional writers will rework your articles, make them more readable, add creativity and improve the conversion.
- Optimizely: reaching high conversion is critical in the content marketing, and this service is a service that will provide a great solution for your experiments and help you find the best variations of your writing.
- Giphy: add some visuals and make the content livelier. Tired of motionless images? Add the GIFs made personally on this service!
3. Choosing Topics Should Involve a Process
Begin by brainstorming topic ideas based upon what you know about your audience and what they tell you they want. Add to that list, topics that interest you too. Creating content on topics you are excited about is much easier and will be far more engaging. If you are running a forum or have access to comment sections in your content, ask for your audience’s opinion. Try to get a feel for what they would like to see without coming off as intrusive or desperate.
As you go through the brainstorming process, you will pick up other ideas for topics and new angles on topics you identify.
Do not short-change this process. Too many content writers jump on a topic quickly and craft a piece that is worn out, too thin, or just not compelling enough for readers to engage.
4. Develop a Personal Writing Style
Academic and business styles do not work for digital content. They are dull and boring and do not work for typical audiences looking for information and solutions to their problems.
What consumers want today is to know that a real person is speaking to them, in simple language, and in a personal style.
Craft your content as if you were speaking to a friend. Some content experts say that language should be at about a 9th-grade reading level – simple short sentences, and a vocabulary to match this reading level.
Readers also want to know you as a person. Providing personal information in your content helps to establish those relationships that keep readers coming back and sharing your content with their communities.
5. Go Interactive
Content that grabs audiences and that gets shared has to have some “audience participation.” This is why those Facebook quizzes are so popular.
Quizzes, surveys, and even video interaction engage well.
Several years ago, Philips Razor Company wanted to promote a new electric razor with a younger demographic that primarily preferred straight razors. Its solution was to craft a video piece that provided for some hilarious interaction. It contracted with Rapt Media for the project.
The video showed a young man waking up in the morning and not remembering what he had done the night before. There were several options based upon shaving styles. Viewers could click on a style and hear the “story” of last night that related to that style.
The video went viral, and sales of the new electric razor got a huge boost. You can read the entire case study here.
Another newer method of going interactive is to use AR/VR. And now that there are tools to create their own viewer experiences, content creators are latching onto this tactic.
Lots of business niches are incorporating these experiences into their content:
- Resort venues are providing virtual tours
- Clothing retailers are giving opportunities for consumers to virtually try on clothing items when considering purchases
- Wine manufacturers are imbedding the “stories” of their wines on their labels – stories that can be accessed with a smartphone.
Setting up these experiences can take time, but they can be well worth the effort if a piece of content strikes a chord with readers and they want to share with many of their friends. No matter if you use WordPress, Drupal or another CMS entirely; implementing new content types into your existing workflow shouldn’t be too difficult.
6. The Critical Introduction
When students learned to write essays in school, they were told how important the introduction was, and they were given some tips for creating ones that would engage their readers immediately. These tips still hold true for content writers.
- Begin with a related anecdote – people love stories
- Begin with a shocking statistic that relates to the content
- Begin with a question
7. And That Title
Creators of the popular digital news outlet Upworthy, state that they spend as much time on their titles as they do on the actual content they publish. There’s a reason for this, of course. A title will either compel a reader to move forward or to skip on to something else. Again, there are some great title generator tools that will give you hundreds of possibilities, if you struggle with catchy titles.
And do some of your own research. What types of titles compel you to move onto reading the content? Can you copy those styles in your own title creation?
8. The Analytics
This is the last but critically important tip. You must analyze your content pieces and learn which ones are generating the most views and how long readers are actually staying with the content. This is especially important for blogs, discussion forums and community websites.
Popular CMS platforms like WordPress give you access to basic tracking and analysis which should cover your initial needs for more information about the performance of your content. When you see what is working, you will know that you must produce more of the same content type and related topics.
Content creation is a continually evolving art and science. No writer can rest on his laurels because he has grown a great audience. New technologies and new tactics are continually being developed, and staying on top of them will ensure that those audiences stay and continue to grow.