Would Your Audience Vote for You?

Yesterday I happened to see this Someecards image on my Facebook feed, and it gave me a nice chuckle:

Would Your Audience Vote for You?

With Labor Day 2016 now behind us, the 2016 election season will be kicking into high gear, a fact that has many Americans smacking our foreheads and looking for the nearest hermitage. But, however you may feel about the candidates (a discussion for another time and another place), we have to admit that we as content marketers have something to learn from the strategists behind the campaigns.

Would your audience vote for you?

It’s an interesting question. We all like to talk in very general terms about things like “engagement,” “relevance,” “usefulness” (or “Youtility” for my fellow Jay Baer fans). But if the folks in our audience ever found themselves in a voting booth, with just one vote to cast among you and every other content publisher in your field, how confident are you that they’d cast their vote for you?

Like the candidates courting votes, we content marketers realize we’re looking at the mission of winning hearts and minds, which at times can seem like so much voodoo. But like the masterminds behind the candidates, we recognize that if we focus on the science behind this momentous task, much of the voodoo will take care of itself.

So, when we think about creating “vote-worthy” content, we can focus on answering some key questions borrowed from the expert politician’s playbook.

Question 1: Where do you stand on the issues?

Ask any voter the No. 1 deciding factor in his or her choice, and you’ll hear something along the lines of “where the candidate stands on the issues.”

As content marketers, we can’t simply be pipelines of useful information. A strategy built solely on “Top 10 Tips for …” blog posts may generate some traffic — even a lot of traffic — but it won’t build a loyal audience.

When it comes to our content marketing, we have to stand for something. We must dig deep to bring our deepest beliefs about our areas of expertise to the surface, and we must make those beliefs a part of our “campaign” for the hearts and minds of those in our audience. Otherwise, we risk blending in with the millions of other brands out there aiming for the same goal.

Yes, when we put our most deeply held beliefs out there, we risk alienating some people. That’s inevitable. But those who stick around, who see where you stand and nod their heads in agreement, are much more likely to be fans for life.

Decision Time: Does your audience know what you stand for? If you can’t answer that question with a definitive “yes,” take a look at your editorial calendar and figure out how you can introduce your unique perspective into your content.

Question 2: Can they trust you?

Second to a candidate’s stance on the issues — at least among the criteria voters will admit to — is to what extent he or she can be trusted.

As content marketers, we are speaking to audiences who’ve been hurt before. They’ve trusted content creators with their attention, only to find themselves sucked into a sales pitch. They’ve started following blogs and Facebook pages, only to discover those content hubs abandoned — or even worse, turned into bullhorns for marketing copy — after a few weeks or months.

We know our audiences can trust us … but how can we help them believe it? If we’re going to build trustworthiness, our No. 1 asset is consistency — consistency in our approaches to our topics, our posting schedules, the look and feel of our content assets, our responsiveness to comments and shares. All these build what I call the foundation of trust, and it doesn’t appear overnight. Trust is something we win in the trenches — day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Variety may well be the spice of life, but when it comes to winning trust, consistency wins the day. (Tweet this)

Decision Time: How consistent are you in every aspect of your content marketing? If you’re lacking in any areas, see how you can tighten things up and invite your audience into a more consistent experience.

Question 3: How likeable are you?

Few voters might admit it, but campaign strategists know that likeability is near the top of the list of a successful candidate’s must-have features.

As content marketers, we need to be no less conscious of our own likeability. Look at your most recent publications, and put yourself in the place of your audience as you consider questions like

  • Does this content read like it was written by a person … or by an SEO robot?
  • Would I want to grab the author of this piece and head to the nearest Starbucks for a chat over coffee?
  • Is this author of this piece talking with me … or at me?

Decision Time: Is there a personality behind your content, and is that personality truly likeable? If you’re iffy on the answer, gather your team and start exploring ways to add some humanity and personal flair to your future content assets.

Now that we’ve armed ourselves with the Big Three of electability — decisive stances on the issues, trustworthiness, and likeability — we’re ready to get out there and start winning some hearts and minds. Who’s ready to hit the campaign trail?