“As a content marketer, the more you focus on engagement, the better” — William Ballard
By William Ballard
It is a passion of mine to help new aspiring writers and content marketers get the attention their work deserves. One of the things I hear most often is, “ All of my content ideas suck!”
The truth is, their ideas are not really as bad as they think they are, they just need some fine-tuning. In fact, what I’ve found over the years is that most new content writers and marketers tend to have this belief that seasoned writers are just able to put fingers to keys, or pencil to paper, and somehow masterpieces just begin to flow.
The truth is: Even the most famous and most admired writers and content marketers very rarely have fully formed ideas that just pop into their heads— it just doesn’t work that way.
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No, even the most seasoned content marketers still have to go into their writing workshops, put the tools to work, and even get their hands dirty at times, in order to bring their ideas to fruition.
You see, look at it like this: let’s say you are a builder building a house. You might have this vision of your dream home, but you wouldn’t just go and start building it without first drawing out the blueprints, and then making sure you have the tools and supplies you need to get started, would you?
Better yet, let’s put it another way. Let’s say you have this dream of traveling to Paris or to Spain or some exotic location. Well, you wouldn’t just go to these places without first planning out the trip — researching how much a round trip plane ticket would cost, finding out how much a hotel room would cost per night, or deciding which particular destination spots you would want to visit — would you?
Of course not! There’s quite a bit of preparation that goes into play before going on such a dream vacation.
Well, the same is true for creating engagement worthy content. You see, what I’m suggesting is that you take the time to get out of your head, and into the head of your readers, by coming up with creative ways to make your content unique and timely, and specifically catered to the conversation that is already going on in their heads.
Then what happens is that pixel picks up on where that internet surfer is going and memorizes those places so that the marketer that owns that pixel now knows what that internet surfer is most interested in, which then allows that marketer to know what marketing messages that internet surfer will pay more attention to.
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Well, imagine what it would be like if you were churning out article after article after article, or content piece after content piece, that seemed as if it was “targeting” and following your ideal readers everywhere they went on the Internet — as if it was an article that was written as an addition to the conversation your ideal readers were already having in their head.
Here are three ways to do just that, and in return, make your content that much more engagement worthy:
1. Use The Polar Opposite Angle
Think about your article or content idea’s polar opposite. For instance, consider reviewing some of the most popular articles from the main publications you follow the most. How could you take that same topic and write the opposite view of what has been written?
Take the subject of SMART Goals. SMART goals is a concept that has been taught for years. It’s even part of the curriculum in most Business programs and courses.
Well, not too long ago, I wrote this article entitled “How to Make Your #SMART Goals, SMARTER,” where I mentioned the SMARTER concept that I found in Michael Hyatt’s latest book, “Your Best Year Ever: A Five-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals” (AFF). That article did get me quite a bit of attention, however.
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You can even go one step further than that. How about doing the complete opposite of SMART goals, and use something like DUMB goals? Now that idea might just get you some overwhelming engagement.
2. Presentation is Everything
You’ve heard it said before, “Presentation is everything!”
Well, this is often emphasized in the food industry because, in most cases, if a dish doesn’t look pleasing to the eye it often gets set to the side.
It doesn’t mean that the food isn’t good, or nutritious. In fact, it may very well be delicious. However, if it doesn’t look appetizing, no one will ever really know just how delicious it is or could be.
For example, just consider the following images. The image above is an IHOP's customer’s cell phone picture of the Tuxedo Mousse dish that they received.
Now, take a minute and look at the promotion image sitting in the center of the table. Here’s another saying I’m sure we’ve all heard before, “False advertisement!”
Look, that plate of pancakes and ice cream squirts may very well taste good, but to be honest with you… It doesn’t look very appetizing. But I’ll let you be the judge. What do you think?
Now, look at the two-part image below. On the left side, you see the Tuxedo Mousse promotion image again. And on the right side, you see the actual dish that was given to an IHOP customer. This time the actual plate may not look exactly like the promotion image on the left, but it is certainly better than the first attempt above. What do you think?
With that said, this whole idea of your presentation being everything is similar to the “Can’t judge a book by its cover” proclamation. You see, I would agree that we probably shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but the truth is, we do!
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And because readers do judge a book by its cover, as content marketers and writers, we must do everything we can to make sure that our presentation is as pleasing to the eye as possible.
In other words, are we laying out our articles in such a way that it is easy on the eyes? Are our subheads grabbing the attention of our readers (especially scrollers)? Plus, are we utilizing images that enhance our ideas and concepts. As the saying goes, “ A picture is worth a thousand words.”
3. To Go Viral, Become Newsy
Moreover, if you can get your article idea to connect or merge with something going on in the news, or with a particular newsworthy holiday — such as Memorial Day or National Prayer Day -- you’re article is more likely to get more attention and more engagement.
For example, when I first started pitching article ideas to editors and publications I didn’t really have any clips to show them. But pitched anyways.
And without any clips, I pitched an article idea to Entrepreneur about what the Marine Corps taught me about entrepreneurship — and I made sure to pitch this idea right around Memorial Day.
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Well, believe it or not, they actually liked the idea and gave me the green light to start writing, and because that article went live on Memorial Day it got more attention, more shares, and overall, more engagement then what it would have gotten if it was just published on any other day.
To that end, finding a news angle can help you think of ways to slant your content idea to take it from ho-hum to viral-ly engaging.
In closing, I hope this article served you and that you were able to get some real value from these three ways to make your content more engagement worthy.
Who knows … even if you just implemented one of these three tips you just might write the next viral article that makes National news.
William Ballard is one of the most sought-after business and leadership coaches in the world. As founder and CEO of William Ballard Enterprise, his core business development and leadership programs are designed to be a catalyst for entrepreneurs and leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their business, their lives, and the world.
Of William’s many awards and accolades, his writing has appeared in Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest, Wealthy Web Writer, THRIVE Global, and others. His newest book, Success in 3D: 3 Fundamental Pillars to Professional and Personal Achievement — — pre-launch party to be announced.