Whether you’re a fun brand that likes to joke and play with bright colors or a serious company that cares about the latest scientific breakthroughs, odds are a great deal of your communication with customers is happening online.
Your web pages, blog posts, social media posts, videos, photos, and all online content is designed to communicate your brand’s authority and value. Content works to establish credibility in the minds of site visitors and potential clients. When people go online to find answers, and they read your company’s blog post that tells them everything they need to know and more, you’re one step closer to earning their trust and eventual business.
You reach the most people online by creating a variety of content types and publishing content on multiple channels. (More on that later.) To decide whether you should make videos, write articles or blog posts, or simply give a shout out through social media, it helps to understand what motivates your potential customers to interact online with different media to begin with. In other words:
People Go Online for a Reason
Or reasons. Even if the reason is that they’re bored and have nothing better to do. And knowing those reasons increases the odds that you’ll create content they find valuable.
AOL studied 55,000 content interactions across the globe to evaluate what motivates people to interact with content online. Results indicate people interact with online content for a variety of reasons that include:
- For Inspiration: Look for fresh ideas or try something new
- To Be in the Know: Stay updated and find relevant ideas
- To Find: Seek answers or advice
- To Be Comforted: Seek support or insight
- To Feel Connected: Learn something new or be part of a community
- To Feel Good: Improve mood or feel relaxed
- To Be Entertained: Look for an escape or a mental break
- To Update Socially – Stay updated or take a mental break
These reasons for going online are not particularly surprising, us being people, too. The information can be helpful, though, in determining what type of content to create.
Common questions we ask when deciding what content to create are, “What questions are my customers asking? How can I solve their problems?
We can use AOL’s data to go a step further and also ask, “Which media are my customers using to fulfill their needs?”
If keyword research reveals your clients go online most often this time of year to find out when their tulips will begin to bloom, we then understand we need to create content that answers that question. But, what do we want to create? A blog post? An infographic? Would a video be best?
AOL’s study came up with some interesting results that help answer those questions.
When We’re Sad, Funny Dog Videos to Cheer Us Up
Who can maintain a pouty face after watching a pudgy puppy ferociously defend itself against a leaf? Not me and, apparently, not 25% of AOL’s study participants either. The bottom line is that people interact with different types of online content based on what motivated them to go online in the first place.
In the United States, the following trends occurred with online users. People who were looking:
- For Inspiration went to a product or service page to find new ideas and new things to try (21%)
- To Be in the Know found quick online information (36%) or an article or blog post (26%) most helpful
- To Find answers or advice went to a product or service page (23%)
- For Comfort found insight or support through an article or blog post (16%)
- To Connect and learn something new sought long videos (18%)
- To Feel Good did so through a photo gallery or slideshow (15%)
- To Be Entertained were amused with short videos (25%) and long videos (22%)
- To Update Socially went to social network posts (24%)
Knowing what motivates people to interact with each type of content informs our decision-making process for content creation.
Of course, these percentages and results are nowhere near the final end-all-be-all rules for content creation. Nothing is ever that simple in the digital world, nor that constant. This information is helpful at one stage during the entire content creation process, and it’s only a small part.
The only rules I’ve found so far in creating online content and digital marketing is that you must never get stuck on rules.
You must remain flexible to adapt to new technologies and how they affect consumers. You also can never give too much weight to any one study/idea/influencer/blog/expert/opinion/person/anything. As the old axiom goes, the only constant is change.
Add Value by Varying the Types of Content You Create
So, no, don’t try to memorize the percentages above and turn them into rules for creating content. Even though the statistics above would indicate otherwise, of course a multitude of blog posts are wildly entertaining, and people find inspiration all day long through social network posts. (I mean, when a kitty gives you a virtual high-five, you’re obviously inspired to conquer the world.) People find amazing insights in long videos, and a great many blog posts provide answers and advice. (Hello.)
The idea is to vary your content by creating it using different media types. Could your article be better expressed in an infographic? Would a photo gallery help tell your story in a powerful way?
Also, ask questions about the content you’ve already created. Could you reach more people by turning an old blog post into a new short video?
Go one level deeper when determining what content you want to create and ask, “What are the different ways people want to view this information?” Doing so will open up the creativity inside you and help you create valuable content that people want to find.