The Secret to Creating More Engaging Content
Creating engaging content is in high demand. Digital marketers chant “Content is King” like a mantra whenever the subject comes up. It’s really important for SEO, and can be a great marketing strategy.
Maybe you’ve created content in the past and it hasn’t resonated with your readers, or maybe you’re looking at getting started. Either way, this article will cover what makes content engaging, and if you stick with us until the end, we’ll disclose our secret formula for creating great content.
What Makes Content Engaging?
Engaging content can be content that readers find valuable, relevant, or actionable. It can be entertaining, or emotional. Engaging content takes various forms and formats, but to make content engaging, we need to delve into the psychology behind each word and sentence.
Engagement through Storytelling
Before there was the internet, there were books. Before their were books, there were elders telling stories to younger generations. Storytelling is in our blood. We do it naturally, although admittedly, some are better at telling a story than others.
There is something about a good story that nobody can resist. Whether it makes you feel good, or tugs at the heartstrings, we can all resonate with good storytelling.
Yet, this is often missed when creating digital content. We get so lost in trying to create something people will find engaging, that we forget this basic premise; stories capture the readers attention.
Create Relatable Content
We’ve all read a good book that sucks you in because you feel like it is a story about you. We enjoy content that we can relate to because it makes us feel more attached to it.
Creating content that your target audience can relate to is essential. There is nothing that will kill engagement quicker than a post that has nothing to do with your reader.
A good example of this in practice is hair stylying. If you’re a person with a full head of hair, you may find an article or video about this to be quite interesting, but if you’re bald or balding, you quickly lose interest.
The same is true the other way around. If you come across an article, ‘Hair Styles for Balding Men’ and you’re a person with a full head of hair, the article is of no interest to you. It doesn’t relate to you, and so you don’t find it engaging.
The Content Should Stay On Topic
Anyone who has had a conversation with a person who jumps from topic to topic will understand the importance of this. It can be quite fatiguing to try and keep up with the conversation.
The same is true for written content. In general, you want to stick to a single topic and flesh that out rather than trying to cover a range of different topics.
Structure and Quality
In general, people know what good content looks like and what bad content looks like. If you land on a web page and are met with a block of text, you instinctively click off the page.
The same is true for grammatical and spelling errors. It’s challenging to read material that is full of errors. When you do this, you lose more than the reader’s interest; you lose credibility.
Instead, provide in-depth information that is free from grammar and spelling errors. Chunk your text so that it is easier to read. Your fifth grade English teacher will have a fit about the structure of these paragraphs, but it makes it easier for your readers.
How to Structure Your Content
As mentioned in the previous section, the way you structure your content is important for engagement. You can deliver a lot of value in your written content, but if it is poorly structured and difficult to read, the value will be lost. Here’s some tips on how you can avoid this pitfall and create content that people actual want to read.
Keep Sentences Short and Easy to Follow
Using large paragraphs and big blocks of text can be offputting for the reader. Instead, keep your content to 2-3 lines per paragraph.
By chunking your content, it makes it easier to read, less intimidating and the end result is a more engaged reader.
Use Bullet Points and Numbered Lists to Keep Content Organised
Bullet points and numbered lists help make a point or highlight specific information that the reader can quickly scan through. This helps to keep them reading other parts of the post, giving them only a snippet of the overall content that they then need more information from the post in order to gain context.
Break Your Content Down Into Sections With Headings
Headings are an important aspect of content creation. They help to divide content into sections, allowing you to drill down on a specific part of a topic in one section, before moving onto the next point. It makes your article flow better and also helps with SEO.
Identify the Problem
While stories and quality content are important, at the end of the day, people consume content for one of three reasons; They want to be entertained, they have to learn something for work/study, or they want to solve a problem.
In the business world, most searches are for content that is going to solve a particular problem. How do you generate more leads, how do I save more money on my taxes, what is the best way to hire great staff are common problems that many business owners face.
By identifying the problems your target audience is facing and creating content around those problems, you’ll increase your engagement and also keep them coming back for more.
The Secret to Creating Engaging Content
As promised, here is the secret sauce to creating more engaging content. Create content like you would in a book or a play. Have 3 acts; Act 1 is the set up, Act 2 is the conflict, and Act 3 is the resolution.
Act 1: The Set Up
Stories unfold according to a central idea or problem. A setting has to be created where the story can play out, which is also the first step toward making a good first impression. Remember, getting readers to relate takes more than cliche lines. While you do not have to reinvent the wheel, avoid using terms that are too familiar already. The more original the better.
Act 2: The Conflict
A superhero is only as good as his or her nemesis, and stories without conflict receive little to no attention. This is something to keep in mind when creating more engaging content.
For the most part, people are looking for solutions to a problem. Introducing that problem as the conflict, makes your content relatable, relevant and interesting.
Act 3: The Resolution
The last part of the story is responsible for two things; providing a feeling of satisfaction that taking the time to invest in the content was worthwhile, and motivating them toward some sort of action you want them to take. A story that just ends without resolving the content is a severe disappointment and takes away from the value of the content.
For example, let’s say you’re writing about tax saving tips. You create the setting, ‘You’re a business owner in your first year of business. You’ve been quite successful already and have managed to turn your starting capital into a healthy revenue. And then tax time hits.”
Here comes the conflict, “You’ve been so busy trying to grow your business, hiring staff and buying new equipment to fulfil your orders that you forgot to put money aside for tax purposes.” Then the story ends.
It’s relatable, it builds intrigue, but it lacks value because it doesn’t provide a resolution to the problem. It robs the reader of that feeling of satisfaction, and they are less likely to convert into a lead.
When you put the three acts together, you have a recipe for some very engaging content. There are no strict rules for how long the content needs to be. Everything depends on what you want to achieve. Creating engaging content doesn’t need to be an arduous task. Just create the setting, introduce the conflict and resolve it.
Steve Jaenke has been involved in the digital world for over 2 decades. Seeing the power of SEO early in the market he pivoted his business to focus on assisting SME to understand and leverage the power of Google. He is a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards awards.