Tired and emotional – The human side of writing quality content

It’s all very well knowing the mechanics of writing content good enough to eat, the kind of stuff search engines and people love to read and share. But what about the emotional side of content creation?

Why does it matter? Humans are contrary creatures. We buy goods and services based on random influences, eccentric preferences,  faulty preconceptions and irrational impulses. Logic rarely gets a look-in. So it’s no good writing content with mere logic in mind, although it forms the skeleton on which to hang messages. You also need to add emotion.
Here are six things consider when adding the emotional bit, the less than logical side of writing quality content.

6 less than logical tips for writing great content

  1. Empathy is a powerful tool. Your customers are humans. You’re a human. So take your marketing hat off and think like an ordinary person. What would you like to hear, in what way, at what length and what level of detail?
  2. Language is crucial. You work for a business. You might be selling to other businesses or consumers. Either way you’re selling to people, individuals like you with bad colds or man flu, sore feet, new lovers, a pathological hatred of cheese/hamsters/University Challenge. Write the way you speak and you’ll be more likely to make that mysterious and magical human connection, something we all love and something that allies people strongly with brands.
  3. Tone comes in handy. If you’re selling funeral services or legal support you don’t want to come across as flippant or disrespectful. But there’s no need to sound stuffy, formal, corporate or overly businesslike. If you’re selling something like Innocent’s fab smoothies you can afford to err on the side of quirky as long as you remain authoritative and trustworthy. You don’t want to come across like a bunch of lunatics. It’s a balancing act, and keeping your human head on helps no end. How would you react to your brand’s tone?
  4. Likeability is a great thing to aim for. Make your brand sound likeable and you key into the Zeitgeist, a place where people enjoy interacting with businesses they trust, who don’t lie or exaggerate and always treat them with friendly respect. There’s no need to overdo it. But being approachable, open, honest and human encourages more  trust and respect cold corporate-ness or distant superiority.
  5. Openness goes down the toilet when caveats and small print take over. People never feel 100% safe when dealing with them, and very few of us read them. It’s much better to include caveats and small print in the body of your content as positive statements than try to hide them.
  6. Enthusiasm is important too. Because human beings are so suggestible, we pick it up and run with it. Imagine you want to buy a painting on Ebay, one of my obsessions. If a seller describes a painting as beautiful, rare or accomplished I’m more likely to click on the listing… even when I can see the work is poorly executed, amateur and ugly.  Let your enthusiasm shine through, keep your promises and you’re more likely to get the right kind of reaction.

How to sanity-check your content

If you’re not sure if you’ve hit the mark, ask other people what they think. They don’t need to be marketers. Quite the opposite. You can ask colleagues, friends, family, prospects, customers, social media followers, forum members and blog readers how your content makes them feel – rather than what they think about it – and because they’re all human beings, their views will be valid.
Just one caveat: It’s important to sift out personal preferences, only acting if a pattern emerges and several people experience the same feelings.
PS. Fresh from New Scientist magazine 28th June 2014: We already know face to face  to face encounters with someone cheerful or sad leaves us feeling the same way. Now a team of researchers at Facebook has carried out research proving the effect translates online. It’s official: digital emotions are contagious. Which means it makes perfect business sense to get emotional about your content.

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