Write to Engage or Lose the Content Game

As a former journalist, turned community and social media manager who ultimately built a social media team at an agency and became EVP of Media and Audience Engagement leading paid, owned and earned media efforts, the idea of writing or producing anything that doesn’t engage the intended audience in some way – is foreign to me.

Not only is it foreign, it’s not an option.

I can’t think of a single reason anyone would want to waste time reading, watching, or listening to  anything that doesn’t catch their attention or resonate with them in a meaningful way in pretty short order. And why should they? Time is one of our most valuable assets. We can’t create more of it, and we never get it back. Anyone creating content should always be mindful of the audience and understand that attention, and certainly any *action* desired  beyond that must be earned, and earned big.

Developing engaging content requires quite a bit of effort.  Why do you think there’s so much awful content floating out on the web? Because that’s the easy stuff! Box-checker’s love to bang out content for the sake of banging out content.  I strongly encourage you *not* to be a box checker, no matter what you’re creating.

Whether writing a whitepaper to be distributed to a huge email list, or copy for Facebook ads, always put yourself in the shoes of your audience and ask yourself if it would be worth your own time.

Because some writers (if we can call everyone a writer) don’t put in the effort required to earn people’s attention and possess a churn and burn attitude, the return on that content is very low. And when you care more about checking the box as a content creator or  garnering a “like” than creating an experience that brings value, or is actually engaging, you can only expect to fail. At least in the long run.

And please don’t think that every “like” means the content was engaging, because that is not the case, either. You have to put your own work to the test and be honest with yourself. I feel a little stronger about “shares,” because that’s an endorsement and people are aligning themselves with your work and their reputation. (I certainly don’t share anything via social media that’s going to make me look bad.)

I don’t know about you, but I have zero time to waste in my 24 hours of each day.  And neither does your intended audience. So do better.

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