eMarketer has just released their whitepaper, “Top Digital Trends of 2012” and, as expected, it’s filled with valuable insights relevant to marketers both focused in the digital space and those that are immersed in more traditional channels. It’s well worth a download. From this paper, there are many takeaways that will prove valuable to marketers, but one of the most relevant takeaways is the concept of magnetic content.
Magnetic content – just what does that mean? It’s somewhat self-descriptive. Essentially, any content that draws in one’s attention is magnetic content. Whether you’ve got an interesting story, intriguing graphics, or another element to your content that draws in the audience, you’ve got magnetic content.
Advertisements have long been attempting to accomplish this task of drawing in the (preferred) audience to perform a certain task or desired action, but as long as content is interpreted as an advertisement, this goal cannot be accomplished. The key to magnetic content is the changing the perception to the viewer. No longer should you strive for a better advertisement, but instead work towards intriguing, engaging content that makes a consumer want to act on it.
Many marketers that are only now grasping this concept may be thinking, “Shouldn’t all content be magnetic?” The logical answer would be a resounding, “YES!” but seeing as much of a brand’s content involves advertisements, websites, free standing inserts, and so on, the best and most necessary place for magnetic content lives in the online space – particularly on social networks and in email.
Why the exclusivity? It goes back to the perception I touched upon earlier. The most talented of marketers can create the most compelling free-standing insert ever seen, but consumers have been conditioned to recognize this content as an advertisement. This alone keeps the content in this setting from being genuinely, truly magnetic. On social networks, however, and email in particular, there is the element of the opt-in. Whether a user signs up for Facebook and likes their favorite brand pages, or a person opts into an e-Club, the first step is taken by the consumer. This consumer is an audience member who is asking for the brand to create valuable, even “magnetic” content.
Now we’ve established what and where – how does one create magnetic content? Depending on the channel, it’s not terribly difficult through either email or social media. A great way to begin this process through email is a preference center. Having a user sign up for your email tells you that they are interested in your brand (or the incentive promised following a successful sign up), but a preference center allows for greater insight into just who that user is. In a preference center, a brand is able to acquire both demographic and, more importantly, psychographic information from a customer. The latter allows for easier magnetic content creation because this information provides a better glimpse as to who a person is. For instance, when one is in the process of signing up for Stoney River’s Red Canoe Society*, they are not only asked their birthday and preferred location; Stoney River wants to know other areas of interest, such as wine tastings, or cooking classes.
After becoming more familiar with the definition of magnetic content, it seems only logical that one finds magnetic content to be almost synonymous with social media content – at least, successful content on social media channels. A user first opts in to a Facebook page simply by liking it, and the ease of content creation starts there. Facebook Insights provide for general demographic information, which allows you to start to tailoring content to your user base. However, the ease of magnetic content creation increases the more you engage and interact with the online audience. For instance, you can post asking your users a “this or that” question. If an overwhelming number of audience members answer “this”, content creators should take this as an indication that future content will perform better if it relates more to the “this” topic – simple, right? It’s essentially crowdsourcing topic ideas for future Facebook updates, which not only makes the job easier on behalf of the content team, but ensures that future content efforts will prove to be more magnetic.
Striving for magnetic content each and every time there is a need for content may prove difficult, but if the predicted trend continues, it may be necessary for all marketers to make this a standard in their content creation efforts.
*Stoney River is both an email and social media client at BrightWave