What powerful kinds of content impact consumers the most?

content is king - writing, blogging and publishing concept - handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffeemers have always been ambassadors for the services and products that delight them.

What has changed is how these customers are getting their messages out.

Today they are influencing their friends and family members via social media. Large or small, these consumers have solid foundations of followers who pay some attention to all of their messages.

According to an article called “Social Media Trends 2016” published earlier this year in the Huffington Post, the average consumer reads or listens to about 11.4 pieces of content before they buy a new product.

Consumer’s voice more powerful than ever

This translates to the consumer having more clout than ever before. It is your direct pipeline to the millennial generation, as well as the millions and millions of social media site members of all ages.

User generated copy is unquestionably a primary influence on other consumers.

But you can’t just offer a website full of testimonials. However, if you can encourage your customers to tell personal, genuinely interesting stories, that is gold to your marketing efforts.

What makes people take to the Internet to tell their story about a business?

Jeanne Bliss,  the author of I Love You More Than My Dog, reminds us that human beings are bound by emotion to what they love. She makes that point that people become absolutely in love with their dogs, for example, because the dog is consistently devoted to them.

The dog gives the owner the warmest of welcomes, it licks its owner’s face to show it cares and appears selfless in watching and caring for its owner.

The same goes for customers, she points out. If they care for you, they will always come to you first for a product or service, regardless of what you competitor is doing. They will be endlessly energetic cheerleaders and unpaid publicists telling everyone in their sphere of influence how great you and your product or service are.

Just as people are quick to complain when they are annoyed with you, they are equally quick at mentioning how pleased they are.

And as a general rule of content, having other people tell great stories about you is better than telling all the stories about yourself.

Adding some of these stories is a great part of any content strategy, but there are other ways to raise the stakes when it comes to getting readers to trust and care about your business through the content you offer.

Curated content convinces new buyers

Think about the content you offer your customers on your social media sites like you would think of conversation at a dinner party in your home. If the topics are interesting, the dinner goes well and your guests tell others that you are a great host or hostess, and they want to come back again.

But if you spend the whole evening just talking about how great you are and how awesome your work is, people will not just be bored; they will start to talk negatively about you.

That’s why when it comes to devising effective content for your social media sites a blend of created content with curated content works best.

By curated content, I mean stories, information, data, and images that you collect from sources other than your own corporate material. As discussed already, some can come from your customers.

In other cases it can be as simple as including the coordinates to an inspiring article that appears on another site, or a reference to an intriguing article or fabulous video or image.

Curated content means that you are not creating the content yourself, but rather are sharing attributed content from others that you think your audience will enjoy.

In essence, you are expanding the conversation and taking the emphasis off solely talking about yourself. You are listening and sharing as well as talking.

Are other companies doing that?

According to an analysis of 150,000 social media posts on Argyle Social, a provider of social media software, about 30 percent of companies are focused on curation of content as well as the creation of it.

In those companies curating, about three quarters or their posts are links to third-party websites.

How do you know what will work best for you?

Statistically speaking it makes a lot of sense to consider curation blended with creating content. That is because based on the survey, posts that are curated, meaning linked to third-party sites, generate about 33% more clicks than those which merely have you talking about your own product on your own site.

But statistics don’t tell the whole story.

Many of my clients have been asking me to advise whether they should be curating more content or keeping readers solely on their own site and I have to ask first what the intent of their marketing is.

If they are trying to generate interest and build relationships, curated content is excellent. It means that you will have lots of great content and it may be a little easier and less expensive to produce than if you are creating all of your content on your own.

But there is a caveat.

If your content creation is used solely to turn your connections into customers, then it makes no sense to encourage them to leave our website.

You will have a 54% higher rate of click-to-conversion if you ensure that all links are to your website, not somebody else’s.

That doesn’t mean you have to make every piece on your website self-promotional content. You can still offer stimulating ideas and insights, but you can rework ideas rather than move your readers away.

Or you can do both curation and creation, and that’s a good idea as well. Many companies looking for a balance use converted copy about half the time, and created copy the other half.

That might not be the best ratio, however. The Argyle Social survey indicated the top five companies that had the most conversions linked to their own sites 41.6% of the time.

Hottest content trends to attract millennials

Effective content also should be geared to your target market. If you are trying to grab a bigger share of the millennial market (those born between 1977 and 2000), you will also have to innovate in your content.

Two of the biggest trends driving engagement with younger customers are immersive videos and GIFS.

An immersive video has been around for more than 50 years but it is finding a new generation of watchers more eager to accept it and explore it. It is used to offer everything from mobile games to 360 degree views, and to take readers to a new level of storytelling in the sale of a product.

One of the most successful users of immersive video right now is Mercedes-Benz with their series on Loki the Wolfdog and his owner exploring the mountains of Colorado.

Not only did it make Loki a social media sensation, but it is also introducing a luxury vehicle to a new and modern generation.

Consumers wooed with GIFs

Another content trend that is popular with viewers are GIFs, which stands for Graphics Interchange Format.

According to the Urban Dictionary, GIFs are image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time.

If you want to bring this idea to your next marketing meeting, be aware that the proper way to pronounce this acronym is with a soft “g” sound. Say JIF, not GIF

Created by Bob Berry and Steve Wilhite, it allows a single image to reference up to 256 different colors.

If you want to see an example of what a GIF looks like, go tohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GIF and take a look at the rotating globe to the right of the page. That is a GIF.

You can also use it for animation.

Tracking what works for your business

Since companies first started creating content for their social media sites, the prevailing question has been: “is it worth the investment of time and money?”

As content gets more and more sophisticated, the question will be asked louder and more often.

It is spurring a demand for improved measurement capabilities of content and the growing call for effective methods of tracking paid performance.

It has also ignited the growth of an entire industry dedicated to offering all-in-one solutions to track, measure and curate content.

Among some of the best known of the players in that field are organizations like Union Metrics Spredfast and Sprinklr.

Key strategies to take away

Here are eight key strategies discussed in this article to help you create content that will influence your clients or consumers the most:

  1. The average person reads or listens to 11.4 content items before deciding to buy a new purchase. Make sure you present your message in a variety of ways.
  2. Consumers are most influenced by other consumers they know and trust. Encourage the great stories of your customers to be shared.
  3. You have to make an effort to ensure your content offers value and interest to your readers who are potential customers.
  4. To maintain a high standard of content conversion, you may want to curate and well as create your content.
  5. The best ratio of created content (you own content that keeps people on your site) and curated content (that refers them to a third-party website), is 40% created and 60% curated.
  6. Consider exploring an immersive video experience to promote your product or service.
  7. Make use of technology to create a GIF to intrigue your readers or show off a special product.
  8. Consider the need to track and monitor your content to better understand what is working for you.

Until next time. I wish you continued success.

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