In a previous post, I wrote about the future of content marketing in relation to how content-dissemination had changed, and the response was strong. Many of you acknowledged, wanted to know more even, about my idea of how digital information mirrors a person’s experience of the world, and I thought that content streaming—a closer look at how interest patterns affect how a reader moves from one piece to the next—might be an interesting consideration.
Many content marketers and content strategists have jobs whose concerns are just this. How do we create a seemingly meandering stream of content that, once meandered through, produces the call to action that we want? seems to be a question many have to ask themselves each morning, each quarter, or at the beginning of each project. What will predictably lead a member of a particular audience from one piece to the next?
And, of course, this is an impossible question (or, at least, a question whose answer is impossible to articulate). But it’s only impossible because of all the possibilities that filer through several key variables: type of content, content quality, audience values, and purpose of reading. Once you’ve aligned your variables, however, you shouldn’t have any problem engineering a stream of content that leads wherever you want it to go.
Let’s unpack the content streaming variables:
- Type of content: There are really, truly, about three kinds of engaging web content out there: Informational/Newsy, Humorous/Escapist, and Artistic/Meaningful. Any one of these can be leveraged into a content stream, but each requires its own strategic treatment. For example, I/N content, to stream, can either not tell the whole story at first, or position itself as covering the first of many elements in a wide field. Either way, proper audiences are compelled to learn more, and old-fashioned interest takes care of the stream.
- Content Quality: You just can’t write low-quality content. You need someone with either incredible wit, incredible knowledge, or a reasonable dose of both to create engaging, interesting content. The Internet doesn’t have, like, 100 sites anymore, and if your content isn’t solid, you’re digging a pond.
- Audience Value: It’s safe to say that, if your business is content, you’re at least somewhat conscious of the need for understanding your audience: who they are, what they like, believe, etc. And, in turn, you can make a pretty educated guess about what they value in content, tone, and type of story. Think long-term about what your audience wants to know, what they need to know, and why they need to know it, and work backwards.
- Purpose of Reading: Why are they reading you? To learn about an industry? To escape into Gilmore Girls trivia lists? To feel moved? How are you going to fulfill their desires?
Once you’ve unpacked these variables for your particular audience / business, you can start developing content that streams, pieces that bounce off each other logically or illogically, that mimic the brain in reality and which feel catered directly toward your ideal audience. Once you’ve got that, you can get back to how hard it is making quality content in the first place.