Hayao Miyazaki image source: The Verge
Many things in life are formulaic, if you think about it. Peanut butter + jam + crumpets = deliciousness, for example. No sleep – coffee = cranky Laura is another (very apt) one for me. But when it comes to creating valuable content, the equation isn’t as clear. Context factors in. As does where your brand sits in the market. Your goals will have an impact on whatever you create, too. So how can you be sure that the content you conjure up will have the impact you desire?
Fortunately – while there are no hard and fast rules for creating valuable content – there are some logical steps you can take to ensure that what you make strikes a chord with the right people. And the formula for that looks like this:
♥ INSPIRATION + INTEREST + VALUE = GREAT CONTENT ♥
These three attributes – inspiration, interest, and value – should always play a role in your content, no matter what. Because if you can master these, you can:
– Get your audience’s eyes on you, as they’re interested in the topics you’re talking about (the “interest” attribute)
– Contribute something useful to the internet (the “value” attribute)
– Be genuine! Icing your content with a sweet layer of authenticity that’ll help you to stand out from the crowd (the “inspiration” attribute)
So, let’s dive in and explore these in more detail. And to keep things focused, I’ll link every point back to this Twitter post I created for my brand, so you can see how each part of this formula has factored into its making:
You with me so far? Good. Then let’s proceed…
The first attribute: Inspiration
It’s very important that whatever content you create is authentic to your brand. We’ve harped on about it before, and we’ll do it again (and again, and again) because this truth cannot be understated.
The stats speak for themselves, in fact. A report by Stackla shows that 86% of consumers say that the authenticity of a brand matters when deciding whether they’ll support them or not. Therefore, if all you consider is what’s going to rank on search engines, this will be evident – and you’ll lose brownie points with your target audience. (Big nope.)
The good news is, there’s a simple way to ensure you’re being authentic in your content. Which is to ensure that what you’re creating reflects the spirit and purpose(s) of your brand (bonus points if it’s of genuine interest to you, too!).
If you’re a brand selling Japanese snacks, for example, perhaps you could create content that explores Japanese food culture. And if you’re a charity, you might feel inspired to flag the great work your volunteers are doing, or provide character profiles of your staff or consumers, increasing their connection to you (like Ace & Tate have done here). If you’re a fitness brand, you could talk about food, athletic wear, motivation and more: framing these linear topics in a way that suits your brand’s character.
These are all directly related, however. The beautiful thing about the inspiration attribute is that what you come up with doesn’t have to have an obvious link to your business. What’s more important is that it reflects your brand’s character and voice.
The Miyazaki tie
Studio Ghibli has absolutely nothing to do with my small content writing company. However, the principles of its founder, Hayao Miyazaki, ring very true. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do here, and by researching an authentic interest (Ghibli), I was able to find this quote, linking my brand’s ethos to the popular Japanese film company. In turn, I was inspired to create something original for my social feeds (the quote post) that also emphasised my brand’s ethos on the power of storytelling. A double-whammy of wonderfulness.
The second attribute: Interest
Of course, creating valuable content for your brand isn’t just about creating what’s interesting to you. That’s what blogging or personal YouTube channels are for. It’s crucially important that you’re factoring in what your audience is interested in, too, giving them a reason to engage with you.
So how do you figure that out, exactly? Fortunately, there are several ways. One of the most obvious ones is by SEO research: discerning the content your audience searches for by typing in relevant keywords in tool like SEMrush or Google Analytics, and using the data to inform your content. For social media, you can also research current trends and topics of interest, along with relevant events. Going a step further, you can use “listening tools” that some social media programs provide, giving you an even more granular glimpse of what your target audience is talking about.
These methods will all ensure you’ve got a bunch of topics at hand that’ll be of interest to your audience. And, when combining this with the first point, you’ll be well on your way to conjuring up valuable content that’s unique and “speaks” to the people you’re marketing to.
The Miyazaki tie
Not only did Miyazaki’s storytelling quote reflect my company’s values, I also knew that Studio Ghibli had enjoyed the limelight recently. This is thanks to Netflix uploading its entire catalogue to its service a couple of months ago. Since then, it seems to have enjoyed consistent popularity. (I imagine because a lot of consumers are discovering the wonderful world of Ghibli for the first time. Lucky them.)
Of course, Ghibli’s popularity alone isn’t enough, for the simple reason that my brand’s audience doesn’t purely consist of Ghibli fans. That’s where the quote element comes in. Within our target market, motivational and inspirational quotes – particularly those that hinge around the art of storytelling – are very popular. Therefore, I know that by factoring in the surge of interest for Studio Ghibli, along with the general popularity of quotes, I can make something both relevant and topical.
The third attribute: Value
Is your content creating value for your audience or brand?
This is the most important question of all when making content. If the answer to it is “no”, then it’s not worth making in the first place. (Pro tip: making content for content’s sake is never useful. Always create with intention.)
Think deeply about the purpose of what you’re wanting to make – this will help you to see whether you’re creating valuable content or not. Consider:
– How emotional it is. It’s scientifically proven that emotional content lasts longer in your audience’s mind than other types, as it truly “engages” the entire brain. So, if your content has an emotional angle that’ll draw in your audience, it’s almost certainly valuable – and will serve your brand in the long run. This TED talk explains the science behind psychology and storytelling in more detail
– How informative it is. Are you sharing knowledge, tips or insights with your audience that’ll prove useful to them? Such as a recipe, how to content, statistics or other? If you’re whittling something together that your audience can actively invest in, you’ll be sure to draw their interest… and give them something of value
– How communicative it is. This is similar to deducing how informative a piece is, except that it’s less about giving your audience something to invest in than it is about keeping them tied to the goings-on of your brand. If your content answers their questions, provides crucial updates about your service or invites feedback, engagement or interaction, it’s sure to be useful
– How unique it is. While uniqueness isn’t everything (authenticity is), it’s still pretty important. So stay away from the topics that everyone else has already spoken about. Focus on a more niche topic, where it’s easier for you to put your own spin on things.
By doing a quick “value check” whenever you create content, you’ll be sure to produce something that’s worthy of being produced.
The Miyazaki tie
As I’ve mentioned, exploring the power of story, the necessity of creating great content and the magic that’s present in the way we use words are key facets of our brand’s message. This instantly makes sharing Miyazaki’s quote valuable, then. It’s helping me to communicate my brand, and instils further confidence in potential consumers that we know what we’re talking about when it comes to stories (as influential figures share the same opinions). Ideal.
Ready to make some valuable content?
It’s time to go forth into the world and get those creative cogs whirring. Oh, and feel free to bounce your ideas off us if you want a little feedback. We’re here to help.