Content Engagement vs. Content Consistency vs. Content Variety
WHICH IS YOUR AREA OF MAXIMUM CHALLENGE IN CONTENT CREATION?
Between content engagement, content consistency, and content variety, where do you think your brand’s content is lacking? Which is your area of maximum challenge? You have to try and identify the weak links in your overall content strategy and aim to rectify them … because without all three of these factors working together, your content plan will not fire as well as it should.
Consistency is what you put into creating content, variety is what content gets from being all over the digital space on different devices and formats that technology allows, and engagement is what the customer should derive from it.
Here’s a quick enumeration of all the factors to consider when you aim your content towards engagement, variety, and consistency.
What Is Content Engagement And How Do You Increase It?
SmallBizTrends says: “Content engagement is one of those ambiguous terms everyone likes to toss around, “We’re boosting engagement this year!” But few people actually know how to define this term or, for that matter, effectively measure it.”
The challenges of measuring content engagement
Brian Hughes is absolutely right because the current focus of experts and intelligentsia on the subject of Content Engagement is on how to measure it. It’s such a vague concept that it’s open to all kinds of opinions of what exactly constitutes “engagement”.
1. Is engagement about quantity or quality of time spent on a page?
For instance, if we were to take a simple metric like “how long a person spent on your webpage” as an indicator of absorption and engagement, how wrong we would be if all the visitor did was sharpen his pencil while the webpage was open?
What are the guarantees that being on a page long enough (without that horrible bounce rate!) still means that the page was being devoured with gusto?
So there you have it. Engagement can only be decided by the “quality of engagement” even if the time spent on a site was short.
2. Is engagement about intended action taken by the reader?
Again, another dilemma in calculating engagement would be whether a person was moved enough by the content of a page to take the next steps you want him to take. Did he interact as you wanted him to, did he respond to the call-for-action as you intended, or did he click forward to a page you wanted him to additionally visit?
What if he did not do it in the same session, but needed a breather to think about what he’s read on your page before he wanted to pick up the threads with your page again to interact? We do that all the time, don’t we?
Lots of people who really respond positively to a product, and can be relied upon for their purchase intent, are the ones that don’t react impulsively and may want to do it more deliberately after a bit of pondering.
So then again, unless you are sustainedly tracking a customer through the visits — and between the visits — how can you tell the quality or depth of engagement?
The 4 keys to making a piece of content engaging
Despite the difficulties of ascertaining engagement, in terms of metrics and measures, you can and should plan for your pages to be “more absorbing, more compelling, more interactive, and more emotionally binding.”
These are the four keys to making a piece of content more engaging and this is as far as a marketer can go. The rest is up to the way the audience chooses to react or not, quickly or slowly.
3 Great Tools To Help You Monitor Content Engagement
Among my top 3 tool picks for content engagement monitoring would be these …
This is a tool I especially like because it tells you what exactly a person is doing on your site while he’s there — or whether your page is open in front of him, but he’s chatting up someone on Facebook!
I’d love to know if a customer is distracted or idling time, wouldn’t you?
This tool traces the paths customers took through your site, as against the goals you set. Based on actual user engagement, you can then deploy the right content to move people forward in their customer journey.
You’ll be able to easily tell which part of your content is more engaging than the rest.
This is a really good tool because after your content is published, their analytics can tell you what stories and channels are performing best on engagement … to ensure you drive better results over time.
They use StoryBook™, their proprietary technology, that analyzes and predicts which specific types of content will have the biggest engagement impact.
What Is Content Consistency And How Do You Increase It?
Spiceworks.com writes: “To be known, heard, and respected, you have to pipe up and say something on a consistent basis — whether you are developing a company brand or a personal brand. This does not necessarily mean blogging every day. There are lots of ways you can show up through your content. Show up and contribute content consistently. That’s what leads to awareness, trust, and relationships that create business benefits.”
That’s it. It’s as simple or as hard as just turning up for work every day! And having something to say!
Two aspects to the content consistency principle
There are two vital factors that operate behind the content consistency principle …
1. The 21-day and 42-day mental patterns
It is said that when you memorize something 21 times — or repeat a habit like exercise for 21 days — it forms a mental pattern in your brain that then becomes fairly indelible (unless you do something else for 21 days again to change the mental pattern!).
In Indian philosophy, they even double this time schedule to 42 days … they have taught us from childhood that if you pray for anything for 42 days without absenting yourself, you will get whatever you desire!
So (coming back to content marketing) when you try to make your brand known and respected, it’s the same principle. It’s not how far and wide you spread your content for a few days, it’s how you keep at it unrelentingly for at least 21 days if not more to form ingrained patterns in your prospective customer’s brain about you.
2. Prompted versus unprompted recall
In advertising, there’s a huge difference, for instance, between “prompted recall” of your brand (when a person remembers your brand when you jog his memory) versus “unprompted recall” (when he remembers you all of his own).
You want that kind of recall of your brand name — the unprompted recall — for which you have worked tirelessly and persistently for at least 21 days.
In content marketing, since almost every competitor now works on this idea of persistence, it may take more than 21 days to erase other brand names from someone’s mind in order to ingrain your own (try 42 days!)
The 3 keys to cultivating content consistency
How do you cultivate this level of application, patience, and persistence to be able to make deep grooves in your customers’ consciousness?
3 Great Tools To Help You Create Content Consistency
Here are my picks of the best tools I’ve come across that help me maintain content consistency, come what may …
There are many calendar and to-do apps, but not one specifically designed for content marketers. CoSchedule allows our ilk to keep everything in one place for all our different types of content — blogs, social media, other formats of content …
This is a content calendaring tool that also includes content promotion reminders. It plugs into WordPress too, and it’s good because it has “nagging power”!
(Image courtesy: HowStuffWorks)
Is this an awesome idea or what? This Pomodoro Technique was first invented by a very smart chap named Francesco Cirillo who used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to set himself 25-minute work-intensive periods followed by 5-minute breaks. (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato!).
Regardless of the shape of your timer, you can use any timing gadget to see that you don’t allow yourself to get up from your content creation till the timer rings. And then you don’t sit to work again till the 5-minute break timer rings again.
I got myself a Pomodoro and I can tell you that on most mornings I look at it with undisguised hatred … but it works!
Don’t laugh, but this one I had to have. There are some of us who cannot work without some ambient noise in the background. Cofftivity is a tool that produces café sounds with a buzz in the background so that I feel “surrounded” by a cozy feeling when I work from home. (It’s supported by science!)
I cannot work in the midst of graveyard silence! See if you need something like this. Anything that gets the day’s content workload out of you somehow is worth it!
What Is Content Variety And How Do You Increase It?
ContentMarketingInstitute.com, the last word on content marketing, has this to say: “Marketers often feel pressure to plant their brand’s content flag on every new channel that emerges or create new content pieces in every conceivable format because, well, that’s what they see their competitors doing. But greater variety isn’t what leads to greater success.
In fact, it may even be distracting you from creating the content your audience needs and wants most. First, focus your energy on producing the best content possible for your audience on a single platform or format. Only once that goal has been achieved should you consider branching out in new directions.”
Okay, now that you’ve got that insight that “variety” is not “reckless proliferation”, let’s see what you need to do to increase variety without overdoing it.
2 ways to increase content variety
These are two great ways to easily increase your content variety …
1. Repurpose existing content into new formats
You can repurpose the same content — say a blog post — into other formats like video, podcast, slide decks, infographics, etc. without having to drum up new content. Not only does it help customers who have format preferences, but it also works wonders for your Google rankings to have your content on YouTube and Slideshare.
Incidentally, there’s also a new format these days called “instructographics” where you show “how-tos” in visual steps!
2. Curate other people’s content with annotations
You can curate other people’s content instead of always relying on your own efforts. But curating is not copying! It involves taking important or interesting passages from other people’s content, adding your own headline, images, annotations, and comments — and making it thereby original as your opinion on the topic inspired by the curated passage.
Curating, if done with creativity, can drastically cut down your workload and the need to be constantly searching for great content topics.
Creating content variety can teach you new things
Creating content variety is not just consumer-friendly, it can be a great way to learn how to do new things. You can learn to shoot pictures, make videos, record podcasts, read scripts … it adds variety to your workload as well and keeps your mind refreshed doing new things you’ve never attempted before.
The only thing you have to factor in is the time taken to learn. Don’t expect mastery in two tries — and don’t give up on a variety of formats in two tries either.
3 Great Tools To Help You Explode Content Variety
If I have to pick just 3 great tools, these would be my favorites for creating content variety with much ease …
This is neither a tool nor an app — it is a fabulous concept created by the content agency Column Five Media that shows how long-form content can be written in a way that it automatically can be broken down into repurposed bits suitable for various formats. They call this their “Divisible Content” model.
(Image courtesy: Column Five Media)
According to Column Five Media, “Basically, it’s an approach to content creation where you use a single asset to create multiple pieces. For example, you might break an e-book into a few articles, an infographic, social microcontent, or even a brand video. Or you might use sections of an infographic to supplement a blog post or promote content on social.
You can use this approach when you’re going to create content from scratch, or you can use it to create fresh content from evergreen content. (You can even reverse engineer it; for example, you might turn an infographic and a series of blog posts into an e-book.)”
Venngage is my go-to tool for all kinds of data visualizations (although they call them “infographics”). They have loads of templates for all kinds of data to be created into stunning images. It’s no surprise that data is always less daunting and more easily assimilated when it is converted into eye candy.
As you can see from the above screenshot of their site, they allow you to turn bits of information into all kinds of formats suitable for websites and social media. The good part of it is they even teach you what the best way to display your information (big or small) could be.
This is a tool from the Amazon AWS range that let’s you type text into a box and you can then choose from a variety of male or female voices that will read out the text in British or American English. In fact, it goes beyond that — it has dozens of lifelike voices across a broad set of languages.
It’s a boon for people like me who have a different (i.e. Indian) speaking accent. The only thing you have to learn by practice is how to type the text in, so the reading sounds natural and not like a robot. You have to create artificial pauses or spell certain words strangely to get the right phonetics out.
I’ve mastered it and it works like the blazes — and it’s free till you cross a threshold of 5 million characters. I’ve used it for years and am not even close to this limit. It helps create all my podcasts and video voiceovers repurposed from my blog posts.
In summary … there is no choice to make between content engagement, consistency, and variety. All three factors must play in tandem to create content with value to both the customer and the brand.
Without engagement, the consistency of content creation or its variety is fruitless. Without consistency, great variety and engagement are but fleeting gains. And without content variety, you’ll get your reader and yourself mightily bored, even if you’re building in many engagement enticements consistently.
It all takes a fair bit of practice before you get all the angles of content creation right. Successful content marketers are those who’ve stuck with it till one day they suddenly discover that zone — when every piece of content they create turns out to have everything right about it. Your day will come too.
Want To Increase Your Content Engagement, Consistency, And Variety?
(This blog post was originally published at https://shobhaponnappa.com/content-quality/content-engagement-consistency-variety/)