How to make your audience feel connected to your content

How to make your audience feel connected to your content

During the run up to Christmas, everyone anticipates the launch of the John Lewis ad. This year, the retailer made the decision to make the ad more lighthearted due to the politically heavy year that 2016 has been with Buster the Boxer. John Lewis's customer director Craig Inglis states: "You could say 2016 has certainly been quite a year, so we hope our advert will make people smile. It really embraces a sense of fun and magic, reminding everyone what it feels to give the perfect gift at Christmas."

With John Lewis's focus on making viewers laugh (rather than cry), many people took to Twitter to state that the ad wasn't emotional enough and that it didn't encapsulate the Christmas spirit with viewers tweeting "Where is Santa?". Although there was no sign of Santa in last year's Man on the Moon or 2014's Monty Penguin, nobody noticed because the ads were emotive enough for viewers to feel connected.

No, I'm not suggesting that your key goal should be to get your audiences reaching for a box of Kleenex every time they engage with your content, but it's recommended that you make them feel connected. One thing we often neglect is the power of emotion, and in marketing this needs to be utilised in order to make your content likeable and shareable.

The success method

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath explains all the components which make an idea work. Including a whole chapter on emotion, the authors suggest using the S.U.C.C.E.S.(s) method when creating content:

Simple

This should be core and compact, and with this component, less is more. You should ask yourself what is the one thing you want people to remember and what is the one thing you want people to do? To make a profound idea compact you've got to pack a lot of meaning into a little bit of messaging.

Unexpected

To get to this, you have to ask yourself if your content is breaking a pattern, opening a knowledge gap, posing a question or a puzzle, challenging people to predict an outcome or even creating a mystery story? How will your content get - and keep - your audience's attention?

Concrete

Your content idea must be solid, get your message across clearly and be memorable. For example, using language and information that is accessible and digestible should be prioritised over convoluted detail as people resonate with content that they can access and understand.

Credible

To achieve credibility, you have to make your idea convincing or believable. This could be using credible stats and figures from reputable sources, or even stories with real people. Whatever makes your content more believable should feature.

Emotional

The goal of making a message emotional is to make people care, as feelings inspire people to act. To achieve this, it's worth asking yourself the following questions: is your content empathetic? What do you think your audience cares about? Does it appeal to their self-interest or identities?

Story

Does your idea tell a story, and will people care? Stories are mentally stimulating and inspire thought or action as they allow people to put themselves in someone else's shoes. This, alongside the 'emotional' component, helps your audience feel connected.

When creating content as marketers, we should be asking ourselves these six key things. Just like John Lewis's Christmas ad, if your audience doesn't feel connected to your content, then your audience won't act - whether that's inspiring audiences to buy your product or increasing social engagement.

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