Engagement VS. Entertainment
Today we talk a lot about creating engaging content because that’s what the algorithms want. But are we right to focus on engagement? Matthew Sweezey, said that ‘Your customers aren’t in it to be engaged, they’re looking to be entertained’. This is the Principal of Marketing Insights for Salesforce.com. He’s also an author and contributor of Forbes and Harvard Business.
And why is it so important? Well, because now there is so much choice and so much access to information, you need to make sure that your customer, your audience, sees and buys into your content.
The Sales Relationship
Businesses forget that they and their customers have very different goals for their relationship, in fact, almost directly opposite.
Customers want to buy and businesses want to sell.
Once upon a time, businesses had all the power in the sales relationship. That changed with the arrival of the internet and social media. Then, the salesperson, or the business, had all the facts about a product or service. They could also control how much information the customer got by say, withholding a bad review.
People had no choice but to buy into what the salesperson was telling them, or have to do SO MUCH more work!
Now though, with sites like TrustPilot, Google My Business, and social media platforms, that knowledge is in the hands of the consumer. Businesses have to spend a lot more time and energy making sure that their brand message is being received by customers, and they do that through producing solid content.
Your customers have access to what everyone else thinks of a product, the people who make it, as well as all their competitors. This creates a huge amount of content, which creates competition for content before you even get to the product or service!
The content can be in the form of a website, of an advert (Search Engine Marketing, social media, radio, TV, magazines, bus stops etc.), of ‘organic’ content on social media, a video or a blog, a graphic or just an image.
What do we mean by Entertainment?
Google defines entertainment as being the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment. That doesn’t mean that your content has to be split-your-sides funny, but something that makes your customer feel something whether that is humour or something else. It could be that you want to remind them that they feel frustrated at how often they charge their phone and you sell a portable charger.
People who are entertained by content go back for more stuff like that- although you don’t need to be the Radio City Music Hall!
What is Engagement?
‘Engagement’ is thrown around a lot in marketing circles. Your content needs to engage your audience, the opening line needs to engage the reader immediately, the picture needs to be attractive to ensure that the audience engages with the post. And all of this is true, sort of.
Hootsuite says ‘At its core, social media engagement is whenever someone interacts with your social media account.’ This is important because it’s one of the metrics that algorithms use to rank how good content is. The more people engage, the better the content is.
It can mean anything from a like, or a share, to a comment or retweet. Even a link click. Unfortunately, analytics can’t track other ways that people will engage with your content. If you work with other people, someone telling someone else in the office about some content shows that you’ve engaged with it. Hopefully, they’ll engage enough to find it themselves and increase the reach of your brand.
Your customer is very unlikely to look at your content, and think ‘Hmm, I’m very engaged’. Your customer has access to so much content both online and in real life, that they only really want to be entertained. The only exception is if your customer is looking for help. In this case, their first need is education, with entertainment coming second. There’s no need to bore your customers to death just because you’re teaching them something!
So what’s the difference and what do I do about it?
The difference is in how we create content. Mostly, it’s about how we think about content. Entertaining content is engaging all by itself. It’s natural and authentic.
Working out how to get a customer to like or follow a page is too often overcomplicated and often feels ‘sales-y’. Let go of ‘engaging’ content, and think about what your customer wants to see and feel. Engagement needs to be as a result of good content, not from content that forces it.
Spend some time creating your content, thinking your ideas through and tracking the results of your work. Have a look at this article I wrote about the cost of good content to help you with this.