As one of the sessions at last week’s CommCon pointed out, we are in a state of content shock and have an attention problem. Did you know that the average reader spends only 37 seconds reading a blog post? Carmen Hill of Chill Content gave us the stat that brands are putting 35% more content out there but are seeing 17% less engagement. Whoa. Because of content overload, the slice of engagement for the average brand shrinks. So how do you earn an audience at every stage of its journey and what does engagement even mean? As my favorite keynote of the day (Mario Juarez of StoryCo) put it, know your audience and what they care about. It’s not about you. The prevailing theme from several sessions at the conference was that what drives people to pay attention and care is content that is more human.
A Digital Strategy to Humanize Your Brand
The Portland Trail Blazers digital marketing team, one of the most influential within the NBA and consistently ranked in the top five of social media accounts (go Blazers!), opened up CommCon this year by showing us how they humanize the players to better connect with fans. Over the last couple of years, the organization made a big shift from traditional advertising to digital, which enables them to do some fun outside-the-box content on social channels, including images, videos and stories with the players (and the fans). They use a paid digital strategy to provide tailored messaging to a specific audience and to collect analytics on the response. The work they do maximizes fan engagement. They have also been co-branding content to amplify its reach and working with influencers like local band Portugal the Man.
Getting Real with Influencers
Speaking of influencers, one session was dedicated entirely to this topic and building partnerships that champion your message. Jessica Lyness and Marta Drevniak of Maxwell PR said influencers can deliver 60% higher engagement rates with your audience. They pointed out that sometimes it’s hard to get the attention of reporters, so you can tap influencers who are seen as credible and trustworthy, and in some cases have bigger reach than media. Influencers can also help to humanize a brand by sharing their real-time experience with the brand through their lens, which makes it more relatable. Get that content out there on social media and your audience has a reason to care.
Evoking Emotion Through Storytelling
Storytelling in business can be so powerful. As Mario Juarez described, stories can confer meaning, paint a picture and establish context for your audience. There is the transactional story that tells what you’re creating and how it works. But the transcendent story goes deeper and is about how human lives change because of what you’ve created or what you’re doing. It gets personal and engages the human mind in unique ways, which is more likely to capture the attention of an audience. Think of the most recent campaigns and stories you’ve seen that strike an emotional chord. Those tend to be the more memorable ones that stick with you and create a bond with a brand.
So in a nutshell, what is the key to audience engagement? Getting personal, getting real and developing content that is more human, more focused on your audience and aligned to its needs. As marketers, we are the trust builders and storytellers and need to get creative at earning our audience.