Content marketing is all about generating interest in a client’s products or services by sharing online material in the right places. It sounds simple enough when you put it that way, but when you think that the average person’s attention span while scrolling on the internet is seven seconds, it makes things a lot harder. How do you captivate your intended audience long enough for the content to have an impact and, most importantly – generate a reaction? Being new to the industry, this was the big “thing to remember” that everyone seemed to be telling me – you’ve only got seven seconds to make an impression, so anything you post better be good! Good content all hangs on the idea behind it and how you can communicate that effectively. It’s a fight for attention, and one that you definitely want to win. But how can you tell when a good idea to you, is a good idea to everyone else?
There are a few things to think about when formulating an idea, that can hugely help to shape your thought process. If you can argue a case for your idea in the face of these things, then you’re halfway there. Because ideas are so subjective, it’s sometimes hard to understand why someone else doesn’t understand your idea, when it obviously makes perfect sense to you. But a campaign that communicates its message clearly and has relevance to a community of people, is hopefully one that will generate a reaction. At the end of the day, people love to have an opinion about something… especially on the internet.
A campaign that I think has been particularly powerful – and has stuck in my head since it came out in 2014 – is the ‘Unhappily Ever After Project’, a storyboard by artist Jeff Hong. In a series of animations, Hong has taken everybody’s favourite Disney characters out of their perfect Disney worlds and thrown them into real life situations. Ariel is crawling along the beach after an oil spill, Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood has been hit by some deforestation and Cinderella is being hit on in a bar by I’m sure, a very charming Prince Charming. Although Hong is creating a buzz about wider issues here (it was his own commentary rather than being produced for a client), it’s an extremely effective campaign for all the right reasons.
Firstly, Disney is known for its characters living happily ever. But he brings that crashing back to reality. Obviously because Disney characters are all cartoons, people don’t tend to think about them in relation to real-life issues. Throwing them into these quite depressing scenarios completely reverses the way you think of a Disney character. It grabs your attention and encourages you to click on the feature.
Secondly, the intended message in Hong’s imagery is clear – he’s communicated it in such a way that there can only be one single interpretation for maximum impact: “Look what the world is coming to. It affects everyone.” That he’s communicated the intended message so clearly makes it more powerful and is more likely to generate a reaction – and generating a reaction is what content marketing is all about. More online reaction means more online buzz around your content and higher visibility for your client.
Lastly, the campaign is very relevant to current issues. Although it touches on quite a wide spread set of worldly woes, they are all issues we’re faced with every day. Hong has presented them in an engaging way, showing them in a different light. This new perspective grabs our attention and holds it – one step closer to keeping someone on your page for longer.
Obviously, there are many stages involved in creating good content but taking time on the initial idea and playing Devil’s advocate with your own – and other people’s – ideas is as important as anything. By honing in on all the nitty-gritty-reaction-generating bits and making them as relevant to the intended audience as possible, you’ll optimise the buzz around the content as much as you can. And if you’re still reading, it’s been about two minutes, so thanks for sticking around…