By Matt Wellschlager, VP of Marketing at Ceros
Fun fact: There are 100 trillion synapses in the brain. In case you’ve forgotten your high school biology (don’t worry, I have too), synapses are the little connectors that pass chemical signals between neurons in the brain. They’re responsible for transmitting impulses that directly affect learning, memory, aging, and stress—pretty important stuff.
When I think about inbound marketing, I think of content as synapses between brands and their audiences. It serves to make a connection across the void between us marketing folks and the people we’d like to be talking to.
But there are two big problems with today’s content landscape:
Content is proliferating across the internet at an insane pace. We may not quite have reached 100 trillion company blog posts yet… but give us a bit more time, and we’ll get there.
Synapses are empty space between axons and dendrites. You don’t have to worry about what axons and dendrites are—the important thing to note is the “empty space” part. A lot of content published by brands is empty space. It doesn’t add value or leave a lasting impact on viewers—it quickly passes along some information and then gets buried in the content graveyard.
If we truly want to make a connection with our audiences using content, something has to change—probably several somethings. Here’s my take on where marketers should be focusing their efforts to develop meaningful content that can help their brands develop real, long-lasting relationships with prospects and customers.
Focus on Value Instead of Quantity
There’s no point in churning out lots of content if that content doesn’t provide value. Valuable content is the only type of content that has a shot at engagement in today’s overcrowded landscape. Keep in mind that your brand isn’t just competing with competitors in your space for your audience’s attention: you’re also competing with publishers, media outlets, bloggers, and randos who make viral YouTube videos. In order to gain and keep anyone’s attention, your content has to be extremely unique, interesting, and/or entertaining.
There are two key ways you can add value to your content:
Insights: Find new information or trends to share with your audience, or explore popular topics with a unique slant that makes your readers think differently.
Storytelling: Share your ideas in a more powerful, emotionally resonant way by telling a story.
Invite Active Audience Participation
The second key to driving meaningful connection with content is inviting your audience to be active participants in your stories. When someone has to make choices, respond to questions, or provide information, suddenly content is transformed from a passive, one-way experience into a two-way conversation.
Active participation takes a lot of different forms, but can be anything from:
Choosing personalized answer responses in a quiz or assessment.
Entering information into a calculator that serves a customized result.
Selecting a specific path through a video or web experience.
Drilling into a deeper layer of content more information.
Completing tasks or missions as a specific character in a game.
Reinforce Content Synaptics with Conversation
We’re big fans of content here at Ceros. But the truth is, even if you develop content that’s valuable and invites your viewers to participate, developing a long-lasting connection with someone requires some off-script conversation as well.
This can happen in a number of different forums: In person is always best (which is why we love conferences and meetups), but social interactions, phone calls, email correspondence, and live-chats can work well too. The point is to back up all of that great brand storytelling with dialogue that puts a human face on who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
The Bottom Line
Content has the power to fill the void between brand and consumer—not just make a quick jump between the two. By investing in high-quality content creation that invites users to actively participate, and following up that experience with additional conversations, you can drive deep connection and build real relationships instead of just adding more names to your database.