Being a content creator is more than putting words down on paper or shooting a video. It’s about telling a story in a structured way so that when people come into contact with your work, they grasp what you’re saying. Whether creating a novel, a million-pound advertising campaign or a 140-character tweet, the objective of producing content is to get your message heard and understood.
Know your audience
If you start producing content before you’re aware of your target audience, you’re giving yourself a mountain to climb right from the off. Without knowing who you want to appeal to, how can you guarantee that what you’re doing is hitting the mark? How will you know what information to include, what to leave out, and what is likely to resonate?
Creating quality content is rarely a quick process. Whether it’s a blog, infographic, podcast, video or article, it takes time and effort to go from inception to completion. However, the number of hours you’ll spend tweaking and modifying your work will reduce drastically if you know exactly what you’re trying to get across and to whom.
The first question you should be asking yourself is ‘which type of people do I want to reach?’. If you could guarantee your work would be seen by a particular segment of society, who would that be and why? This is a crucial first step in the content production journey; once you’ve decided who you’d ideally like to be reaching, you’ll be able to consider what to produce.
The first question you should be asking yourself is ‘which type of people do I want to reach?’
It’s also important to find out what your audience needs. Why will they be interested in your content? What are they hoping to achieve with the help of your work? If this sounds like a long-winded process, fear not! We have a solution.
We call it persona building.
By designing a persona you put a face to your audience; and we mean that quite literally. By creating a detailed illustration of the kind of person you want your content to influence, you’ll give yourself some focus and direction. You’ll be better equipped to visualise your perfect recipient, and will therefore be giving your content the best chance of being successful.
Personas can be based on all kinds of information, from fairly basic demographics such as age, location, profession or financial status, to more complex factors such as attitudes and behaviours. The more detailed you can be the better; the aim is to really understand what makes that kind of person tick.
It may take some time to put together a perfect persona – although you could always ask us to do it for you – but the payoff is certainly worth the effort.
Different strokes for different folks
When you know who you’re writing for, you’ll find yourself better positioned to tailor your message so it’s as alluring as possible; you’ll know what to say, and how you’re going to say it. You wouldn’t go into a debate without having a firm idea of your beliefs and objectives, and the same attitude should apply for any content you produce. Remember that you’re not just trying to create a strong piece of work; you’re attempting to portray yourself in the best possible light, too.
It goes without saying that everybody consumes news and information differently; every individual has their own views and opinions, and they also have favoured communication channels.
When you know who you’re writing for, you’ll find yourself better positioned to tailor your message
Did you know, for example, that around 62% of adults get their news from social media? Or that by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic? Being aware of the channel or content medium you’re going to use will go a long way to influencing what you are going to produce.
Divide and conquer
We’ve spoken in the past about the concept of content shattering, and it’s something we continue to advocate. Just a few weeks ago Tor Goldfield, our Head of Content, wrote a blog on this very topic. In it, she said:
“Rather than engaging in a never-ending hunt for new topics and angles, it is far more effective to identify one subject or theme that really resonates with your chosen stakeholders. More often than not, that will involve helping them solve a problem, do something more efficiently or try something new.
“Once you’ve found that big idea, the next job is to work out what kind of content to produce. This is where many companies miss out on opportunities. One great idea shouldn’t lead to one great piece of content; it should be the foundation for many pieces of great content.”
People get their news and views from a huge range of places, and there is no one uniform content medium that appeals to one and all. By communicating in a variety of forms, you’re helping your message to spread in a number of different directions. You’ll be speaking to people in a way that they appreciate, and ensuring your work is seen, heard and listened to.
The importance of voice
Once you’ve taken steps to understand your audience and define your message, the next stage is using the right voice at the right time to get your work acknowledged and understood.
Do you want to come across as formal or informal? Would you like the reader to see you as an authority figure, or would you prefer to speak in the manner of a friend? Will your audience appreciate technical terms and business jargon, or would it be better to write in a way that is succinct, simple and direct?
Your voice should remain consistent rather than rigid. You want the reader to get to know your business, and that means producing work of reliably high quality that retains a dependable and unvarying personality. That personality can, just like your own, have an array of traits and quirks, but an overarching level of constancy is essential.
Your voice should remain consistent rather than rigid
If you’re writing an article, keep your reason for producing the content at the forefront of your mind. Make sure everything is relevant, appropriate and moves your overall aim forwards. Do you want to make a sale, or would you be happy just to see your message shared over social media? Think about your objectives in detail, because that’s what ultimately makes the whole content production process worthwhile.
The more you know about your audience, the easier becomes to make decisions that will shape your work. You’ll have a firm idea of content length, the mediums that should be used and how it should be presented. And the more you know about your audience, the more likely it is you’ll get them interested, keep them engaged and guarantee they’ll keep coming back for more.