Tell Your Story with More Empathy for Content Strategy Success

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Curiouser and curiouser! – Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

The impulse Alice feels to jump blindly into the rabbit hole is the same motivation your audience feels while searching the internet. If you want to create a content strategy which will catch their attention you should be aware of their cognitive needs. Learn to tell your story in a way which appeals to their search intent.

In this article you will learn about how cognitive psychology theories will add empathy into your content strategy. It will cover the following points:

  • The role curiosity and need for novelty plays in search behavior
  • How a performing a research review before you write will boost SEO
  • How people form their view of themselves through schema
  • Using schema theory in your strategy for creating share-worthy content

 Tell Your Story with Better Planning

Telling your story begins when you set the right expectations. Keyword research and strategy is still important even with the changes search engines have made. This is because keywords are signals about intent.

 The Knowledge Gap Leads to Curiosity

Search and discovery is driven by the need to learn. Human curiosity and need for novelty are associated with this seeking behavior. One popular theory is known as the “knowledge gap” proposed by George Loewenstein. This theory tells us that people are triggered to search for information when they perceive a gap between what they know and what they want to know. This seeking behavior is tied to our reward system, which makes exploration pleasurable. The importance of this theory is a simple one. People crave knowledge to cover these gaps like an itch they can’t quite reach to scratch.

 A Research Review Provides Opportunities for Novelty

How long do you spend researching before you create content? Is it more than an hour? Or do you wait until the very end of your process?

Research is a boon to anything you write making your content better informed and well-rounded which is ultimately more convincing.

One method to use is reiterative searching. Take a keyword phrase and pass it through a Google Search. Take a look at the top results and read them. A scan should be good enough to get an idea.  Repeat this process using the search options to view by year, month and week . You can also take a glance at BuzzSumo and see the most shared posts.

This line of thinking can be dangerous because you are at risk for taking in someone else’s ideas and forgetting the source. It is important to bookmark any resources which you want to build upon. The trick here is to get an idea of what types of content people are looking for when they perform this search. Look for common elements and this will give you sense of what their search intent might be. In other words what craving are they trying to quench.

After you feel comfortable that you have exhausted the pool of possible content think about what you have experienced. Ask yourself three questions.

  1. How can I make my content 10% better than what is already out there?
  2. How can I make it 20% better?
  3. How can I turn this whole conversation on its head?

When it comes to satisfying novelty and curiosity you want to create content which fits point #3. There is a good chance that you have a unique perspective which can open up a topic and take it to a new place. Doing due diligence on research can also boost your SEO by creating a resource full of well sourced and vetted information.

 Tell Your Story with More Insight

Getting into the mindset of the audience you are creating content for is crucial. If you want people tobecome emotionally involved in your stories then take into account their perspectives. This is the first step towards empathy.

 Schema Theory

The term schema, in the psychological sense, was coined by Jean Piaget. His time working with children lead him to his research in studying cognitive development. He realized that children go through stages of learning and each stage could be defined by cognitive abilities. His original research limited these developmental stages to fixed age groups, but these stages are more fluid and individuals move through them at their own pace.

 

As an individual grows and learns they develop a schema. This is a sketch of how the world works and even extends to our role in it. Piaget believed that as you learn your schemas are challenged and you are forced to adapt to new knowledge. This happens through a process of assimilation and accommodation.

Schemas have been extended too many areas of psychology research, including identity. You have schemas of yourself along many different dimensions; values, abilities, gender, sexuality, personality etc. These are the beliefs you hold about who you are as a person. Information from the world which confirms your self-view captures more of your attention.

Using Schemas to Build Share-worthy Content

After you completed your research review write down the common elements of each content piece. What points seem to repeat? This might point to schemas held by your audience. It is worth the time to write down these points and connect them with psychological personas of your potential audience. If your content encapsulates their schema then they are more likely to enjoy it.  This type of content resonates with their identity and view of the world. If you want to create something viral then you need to go further.

Let’s go back to the idea of need for novelty. If you really want to impress readers give them something new to consider about themselves. Recast their experiences in a positive light. It will make your content more appealing and help it stick out from your competitors. It isn’t easy, but it is a lot of fun to try. BuzzFeed’s Videos are popular because they do this so well. By the end of the video you will feel so good about yourself!

Content Marketing Thrives When It Reveals Something New

There are theories floating around about how the increased focus on content marketing has created an ecosystem which is overloaded.

I think this is true to the extent that there is an overload of related content which is much too similar. If something is killing off content marketing it is lack of innovation. There are things which seem to work and help content stick, but it goes beyond formulas. You have to get into the shoes of your audience and really understand their perspective. Match content to your audience’s identity and reframe their experiences into novel ideas. They’ll thank you for showing them a new side of themselves.

How are you improving your content strategy this year?

photo credit: Love For Books via photopin (license)

This post was originally published on SteamFeed.

Susan Silver is a community focused strategist who uses social data insights as the foundation of her work with ARCOMPANY. Her philosophy “Humanity in Data” is informed by a background in cognitive-behavioral psychology. She is making positive change in people’s lives, and the world, with thoughtful communication on behalf of her clients.

One thought on “Tell Your Story with More Empathy for Content Strategy Success

  1. Joe Cardillo says:

    Re: making content 10 or 20% better, even small increments like that would improve how a ton of brands interact. Definitely the approach that’s iterative / focused on improving what you create over time…that’s critical. Most brands are still creating a bunch of one-offs, stringing them together, and calling it a content strategy.

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