When it comes to content marketing campaigns, there’s a certain element missing from most brands’ approaches. Their content comes off as stiff and unengaging, and their syndication patterns feel forced and repetitive, even if their content satisfies the majority of criteria for what makes good content “good.” So why isn’t it having a beneficial impact?
Because it lacks a personal touch.
The Importance of Personality
Personality accomplishes several goals for your brand at once, while combating some of the biggest challenges in modern online marketing:
- Consumers naturally distrust corporate brands. Consumer trust is a fragile thing, and lately, trends like the economic collapse of 2008 and the punishing rise of advertising have left users distrustful of corporations in general. Personal approaches are an appreciated alternative.
- Impersonal content is boring. When your content reads like it was written by a robot, nobody wants to read it! Personal content is much more exciting.
- Emotional content is more shareable. Personality is inherently more emotional, and more relatable. This makes your more personal pieces more likely to be shared and distributed.
- Personality helps you stand out. You have a lot of competition, whether you realize it or not. Adding a personal flavor will help add uniqueness to your strategic approach.
So how can you add more of a personal touch to your content strategy?
Step 1: Get to Know Your Target Market
Your first step is to get to know your target audience. Why? Because when you know your target audience, inside and out, you can write specifically to them, making your content more interesting, valuable, and more approachable on a personal level. The best thing to do here is to create a customer persona, a kind of amalgamation of different traits your “average” target customers share. For example, you could describe this person’s age, gender, education level, family life, and geographic location. Once you have this description, you can write content specifically catered to this character, and your content will become more personal as a result.
Step 2: Create Your Brand Voice
When you’re creating content on behalf of your corporate brand, it should all use a similar voice. To do so, you have to outline the key characteristics of your brand, and emphasize those when you develop content on your brand’s behalf. Make sure everyone in your company producing content is adhering to these standards as well. Strive for a more conversational, casual tone here.
Step 3: Leverage Personal Brands
Don’t shy away from personal brands. Personal brands are essentially “offshoots” of your corporate brand, led by individuals on your team. These personal brands will have their own voices, and own personalities, and exist somewhat separately (but still related) to your company brand. These individuals will post content on your blog, syndicate it to their own audiences, and engage with your brand’s audience—but because they’re real individuals, they’ll naturally carry more trust with users. For the same reason, their content will also have a more personal feel.
Step 4: Engage and Nurture Your Audience
Writing “personal” content isn’t enough to support an entire personalized content strategy. You also have to follow up with your audience to show that you’re paying attention to them, and that you value their readership. When a user comments on your post, respond to them. When they engage with you on social media, acknowledge them. You can even encourage their participation directly by asking for their thoughts on your latest post, or by stirring up a discussion. The more actively involved your brand is with consumer discussions, the more personal and approachable you’ll seem.
Step 5: Encourage User Submissions
You don’t have to do all the content work yourself. Why not invite some of your biggest readers and followers to submit guest posts to your blog? You can give them author credit, and reap a number of benefits: diversifying your content stream, improving customer loyalty, getting free content syndication, reaching new audiences, and so on. You can even do this through social media contests or some other call to action. The more your users see other users actively contributing to your content strategy, the more personal and genuine it will seem.
Step 6: Incorporate Feedback
Finally, take the time to truly listen to your users. If they react negatively or neutrally to a certain type of post, discontinue that type. If they go nuts for a different type, write a follow-up, or include more content in the same vein. User feedback is tremendously important in optimizing a campaign—not only is it going to help you make your content strategy better, it’s going to show your users that you care about them, and make you seem more personable in the process.
If you follow these six steps, you’ll be in a much better position to personally appeal to your target audience. However, there’s still one major issue that stands before you; trying too hard to “seem” personal can make you seem just as impersonal as if you weren’t trying at all. It’s like seeing someone pretend to listen to you when you know they aren’t hearing a word you’re saying. So instead of trying to synthesize personality, why not just inject some of your own into what you’re developing? Write like a person. Talk to your customers like they’re people rather than numbers. Get them to chip in. The more sincere and natural you are about it, the more you’ll be rewarded.