4 ways to build a relationship with your audience
When you’re shouting in a room full of other shouting people, you’re lucky if anyone hears you.
When you’re publishing content just to publish content, you’re lucky if anyone cares.
While luck can play a role in successful content — if it’s shared by the right person at the right time, for example — it shouldn’t be your strategy.
Luck and “going viral” won’t build you a following. What will? Consistency, quality, and an unwavering devotion to serving your audience.
Those were three of the big themes across many of the speakers and sessions at Content Marketing World 2019.
Here are 4 takeaways from those sessions on how to better connect with and grow an audience.
1. Do one thing great.
Joe Pulizzi presented his “Law of Ryan Seacrest”:
- You are not Ryan Seacrest — don’t try to be everywhere at once.
- Instead, focus on doing one thing consistently great, whether that’s a blog, video series, podcast, or other project.
- Once you’ve built up an audience, then you can diversify.
- Be ruthless: “Place heavy bets on your winners and start killing off what’s not working,” said Pulizzi.
In another session, Andrew Pickering and Pete Gartland suggested taking a 90/10 approach, where you spend 90% of your time and effort on your main project, and 10% experimenting with other platforms.
2. Find some elbow room.
Thought leadership isn’t preaching from a pulpit, but creating a community around ideas, said Amber Naslund.
Right now only about 25% of people say the thought leadership content they’re consuming is great. But great thought leadership content can have a major impact:
Creating great content matters.
When people read/watch/hear great thought leadership content,
75% will start following you
92% will have increased respect for you
58% are more likely to reward you with business
— Fran Merlie (@franmerlie) September 5, 2019
How do you create better thought leadership content? Find less crowded spaces around your chosen topic, Amber said.
- AI, for example, is a broad topic and a crowded space, with a lot of big players (with big budgets) sucking all the air out of the room.
- But if you can find the intersection of what you know well, what your audience needs, and where substance is lacking in the market, you can find an angle on AI where you can add something of value.
Red Hat did this with its podcast Command Line Heroes.
Most podcasts for developers and system admins were just two guys talking to each other.
So Red Hat set out to create a narrative-driven podcast hosted by a woman, and upped the production value so it sounded like an IT version of This American Life.
It’s won awards and loyal followers.
3. Serve your audience.
Dan Shure, in delivering a presentation on keyword research, noted how overcomplicated SEO can seem. But really, it’s simple.
- “Your goal is to make searchers grateful they found your content,” he said.
- He later followed up in a tweet, saying “Search volume isn’t a number you look at to see how much traffic you ‘get,’ it’s how many people a month you can help with whatever they are asking.”
Search volume isn’t a number you look at to see how much traffic you can “get”, it’s how many people a month you can help with whatever they are asking.
— Dan Shure (@dan_shure) September 5, 2019
As complicated as SEO can seem, its aim is simple:
- Selflessly answer people’s questions and help them out.
That’s a lesson not just for search, but for all content.
4. Innovate before your idea stagnates.
If you’ve had success with your podcast, video series, blog, newsletter, or other project, it’s tempting to keep doing more of the same.
But that’s ultimately the path to stagnation and diminishing returns, said Jay Acunzo.
He offered several ways to keep your content fresh and continually evolve to meet your audience’s expectations.
First, Jay said to understand your anchors — the qualities of your project or brand that audiences can recall and that you can control. He listed four:
- What is it? Podcast, blog, etc.
- Contents: How it’s made, the process
- Purpose: What it’s for
- People: Who does it, who it’s for
Second, he said to add “wrinkles” to those anchors:
- Reuse: Increase the number of times people encounter the anchor in the same project.
- Repurpose: Increase the number of times people encounter the anchor in a different project.
- Replace: Substitute one anchor for another.
- Remix: Combine an existing anchor with refreshing new elements.
- Refine: Remove unwanted parts of the anchor (or the entire thing).
Small, incremental changes over time will keep a project fresh and stave off the stagnation, Jay said.
Where to go from here
By creating more consistent content of a higher quality that always delivers value, you can start to build a relationship with your audience.
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