Whether you’re trying to grab attention to your newspaper, e-mail or blog post, one constant has remained: Content is king. You can write the greatest headline in the world, but if the rest of the content doesn’t deliver, captivate readers or mesh with the target demographic, you’ll quickly lose interest. The secret to creating and maintaining buzz for your content is to write content your audience wants to read. That sounds simple, but knowing your audience — and what it wants — is anything but easy.
First, you need to identify your audience. There are several methods to identify your audience, such as determining keywords that are bringing users to your website, creating user personae and more. Once you’ve identified your audience, you should create content that speaks to each user persona. Do not stray from this concept, because you will lose readers or followers. Readers are finicky at the beginning of any article or post. If you don’t capture their attention with the title, the remainder of the content might as well be in a language they don’t understand.
For example, let’s say you operate a blog about the exam for certified public accounts. Who is your audience? There are a few user personae we can identify without doing much detailed analysis. You can easily create personae for your audience in the same manner.
- Students: those in their early 20s who are working on an accounting bachelor’s or master’s degree, with the intent of taking the CPA exam eventually.
- Entry-level professionals: early- to mid-20s professionals working full time at a public accounting firm, after attaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This group is most likely to be actively involved in accounting practices or preparing to become a CPA.
- Career changers: adults looking to change careers or re-enter the workforce.
- Educators: accounting professors who might need to discuss CPA exam content with their students.
- Professionals: licensed CPAs who are concerned about the future of the profession.
Let’s say we want to target entry-level professionals, because this is likely the largest of the five personae we have identified. Many of these individuals have probably taken entry-level jobs as an accountant but have not yet sat for the CPA exam. One of the greater stresses about this exam is finding out one’s score for each section. Though the exam is largely computerized, it can take a few months for scores to be reported to the appropriate governing body. So “CPA exam score release” is a hot topic and sure to draw attention from entry-level professionals because this demographic would be interested in knowing exam scores.
This would be a perfect theme or title to create your content around. When reading this blog for the first time, readers will immediately be locked in because the content pertains to their situation — not their past, not their future, but what they are actively involved in at the moment. Most readers and discussion groups talk about what’s happening now. What’s buzzing? By focusing your title and content on “the now” of your target audience, you have a much better chance of each reader reading your article or post from beginning to end, which is the goal of any writer.
When selecting a topic, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Pick one that relates to at least one of your user personae. This drives at least one group of users to your content and is sure to relate to them.
- Topics should be useful or answer a question. This encourages social sharing, allowing your content to reach beyond its page.
- Pick a controversial or trendy topic. Readers usually show initial interest in current topics and trends compared with those of the past. That is, unless you are comparing a “now” topic with a past topic.
- Limit the sales and marketing aspect of your content. If you’re only trying to sell a product or service, you will probably fail. No one likes to feel as though he or she has been sold, but everyone likes to buy.
- Analyze solutions that have worked for others, and share them, because one can never have too many solutions. Solutions are exactly the type of content or discussion that goes viral.
- Find out your user personae’s questions. Sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora can be a gold mine for content topics.
While there are tactics that can drive users to your content — using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. — the simplest way to generate buzz is to produce great content. Know your audience, their concerns, their questions and their requests. Selecting the right topic and targeting your audience is the easiest way to generate buzz and keep users coming back.