Is Your Blog (& Social Media) Content TOO Promotional?

7 Ways To Create Authentic Blog Content

How not to create authentic blog posts If you have to ask if your blog (or other social media content) is TOO promotional, chances are, it probably is. The raison d’etre behind blogs and social media is to help others and to pay it forward.

To create authentic content, understand what constitutes promotional blog posts and information. Promotional content is targeted at getting prospects to buy products and services. It screams me, me, me and works to pull you in by your collar.

What is authentic content?

Here are the five elements of authentic content, regardless of whether you place it on your blog or other form of social media.

  1. Authentic content is personal. It speaks from the heart with a human voice. It’s the opposite of corporate speak – content that’s been stripped of anything remotely sounding like a real person created it.
  2. Authentic content is emotional. It conveys a sense of passion. There are feelings behind the words.
  3. Authentic content is engaging. It connects with readers by appealing to their senses and wins them over.
  4. Authentic content incorporates your corporate culture, values and activities. It’s an extension of your institution.
  5. Authentic content is trustworthy. It’s based on telling the truth and delivering on your promises.

7 Ways to create authentic content for your blog

Keeping the five attributes of authentic content in mind, here are seven tips for creating persuasive content. Of course it helps to create a marketing persona and social media persona to better understand the type of content your target audience is seeking.

  1. Show off your product. Regardless of where they buy, most customers go online to research purchases, especially if they’re expensive or have a major impact on their lives. Provide the relevant product information they seek including photographs and videos where available.
  2. Tell your (or your organization’s) story. As people, we’ve been taught to remember stories. They have a beginning, middle and end. Story is a critical element of a 360° brand. Skip the once upon a time and tell the stories you have. Step outside of your preconceived notions to see how others view your stories. What’s horrible for one person may be wonderful for another. For example, a cheap Amsterdam sleep, the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel  writes that it “has been proudly disappointing travellers for forty years. Boasting levels of comfort comparable to a minimum-security prison, the Hans Brinker also offers some plumbing …”
  3. Answer your prospects questions.  Many bloggers and organizations are afraid to respond to customer inquiries. They think that customers will blithely buy from them if they don’t know about the dark side of their offering. The problem is that if you don’t respond to your prospects, there’s a good chance that other customers or, worse, your competitors will. In an age of transparency, it’s important to take control by answering these questions. Here are more details on how to use your blog to answer customer questions.
  4. Show me how. 30% of prospects seek information regarding how-to and styling information. Therefore, demonstrate how to use your product effectively.  This includes the use of photographs and videos. Two good examples are Target’s Tumblr where designers put together outfits for readers and Mid Atlantic Concrete Company’s Concrete Answer TV that answers all of your concrete questions (about concrete.)
  5. Provide expert advice. More than one in four prospects seeks expert opinions before they buy. You can offer expert input in the form of guest blog posts, interviews, book reviews and live blogging events. For example, I interviewed Beth Hayden, author of Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business With Pinterest (affiliate link) for her advice. This was a win-win. Hayden’s book Pinfluence was promoted and my readers received her input.
  6. Allow your employees to take the stage. Focus on the experts within your organization to provide more detailed information and show your human side. This can be particularly effective for companies that are highly specialized and where product developers have their own language that your customers understand.
  7. Let your customers sing your praises. Interview your customers or let them tell their personal stories. The subtext to this content is “Don’t take my word for it, here’s what others in your situation say about our offering.”

 The bottom line is that authentic content sounds like a real person. It speaks with emotion about topics of importance to your audience. It’s about providing relevant information to answer prospects’ needs.

What suggestions do you have for creating authentic content for you blog? Do you have any examples you can share?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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