If your goal is client engagement, then authentic content is your most powerful tool. When a friend or colleague shares an article with you that makes you say, “Wow, thanks for sharing. What an interesting read,” you’ve had an authentic content experience. Relevant, timely, and interesting articles or stories shared or found naturally prompt conversations and connections, not just between friends, but between you and your clients too.
But finding and sharing authentic content can seem impossible in today’s oversaturated digital space. Browse through a few websites and you’ll get a case of deja vu: didn’t I just read this? Does everyone really have the exact same news and commentary? Who is actually writing this?
So many websites seem to be carbon copies, which makes sense since business professionals have more important things to do than aspire to blog superstardom. Yet, everyone’s advice seems to be “content is king!” New content libraries and services pop up every day promising to beef up your web presence and generate leads.
The biggest challenges to content marketing are staffing and knowledge, according to Digitalist magazine. Their survey found that while most business professionals are happy to invest in content marketing, they struggle to find the right staff or tool for it. They also found that 62% of respondents were unclear on how to effectively measure the ROI of content campaigns.
Content holds more value than just the words on the page. The way someone experiences reading content affects the perceived value of the message. The nature of how it’s sourced, accessed, and displayed triggers certain values within a reader’s brain. Content that feels like it’s displayed in a contrived environment signals that it’s not authentic or that it’s there to serve a business purposes. But if it’s displayed in a natural way, credibility is enhanced dramatically. Natural to consumers means familiar, well-designed, and written by a trusted source – not a Copy+Paste section of a website or a PDF buried on a small business’s resources page.
There’s a reason publishers spent $22.1 billion in 2017 on native advertising experiences. They know that content audiences are used to certain formats and a less disruptive advertising experience is more effective at engaging readers.
If a business professional writes and shares a blog or recommends a piece of news, it’s delivered with certain expectations and value among their audience.
If a friend recommends a piece of content, it comes with different expectations and social value among the recipients.
Consumers trust their business relationships because they have years of experience and training. Consumers trust friends because they have personal relationships. If we want a person to recommend what a business contact shares to another reader (i.e. clients sharing with prospects, expanding the audience and reaching referrals), it makes logical sense to provide a natural viewing experience that consumers have come to expect. These are the questions consumers are subconsciously asking themselves as they read:
Sharing content is the most effective way to build trust, but consumers spot canned messaging and contrived experiences a mile away. People steer clear of it and head back to what they were doing elsewhere in just one click. Capitalize on content’s ability to foster trust with credible, real-time news instead of sacrificing your opportunity to do so with questionable purchased content.
Many consider the absence of ads to be a benefit, and don’t share content from the web as a result. But this head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t change the fact that your clients are getting real content on the web whether you like or not. In the marketplace of desirable content, there are no ad-free zones. For example, the most visited websites for personal finance are Yahoo! Finance, MSN MoneyCentral, CNN Money, Google Money, and The Motley Fool, all of which feature ads prominently and are no less trusted by investors.
We all expect and accept the presence of ads. It feels almost bizarre for a reader to be on a page with content without ads. If advertisers aren’t interested in the page, traffic and trust must be low, right? You can bypass ads by licensing premium content, but that can run into six figures annually. Even publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Economist have ads in their paid-for experiences.
If the content experiences you offer readers are supported by data, then you’ll be sharing authentic content that people want to see. The experiences will engage people and enrich your relationships regardless of the ads your audience will see anyway somewhere else.
If the most natural experience to consumers is reading trusted publications and sharing with friends when something is a good fit, then the solution is obvious: let people get authentic content from sources already trusted and rely on objective data to identify the best. Vestorly uses artificial intelligence to find content your audience wants and automatically shares it. You and your audience both get what you want: desirable content for them, less guesswork and more engagement for you. Check it out when you launch your free own account here.