With the overwhelming volume of content published online, what differentiates one post from another? Content marketers clamor to compete for attention online with little evidence of ROI for their efforts. For content marketing to be worth investing in, posts ought to be highly relevant to the viewer. What determines relevance, and is relevance even enough to be worthy of attention?

One step beyond relevance is helpfulness. On a philosophical level, we’re all searching for something. Online, we’re looking for all kinds of things–interesting insight, connectedness, information, escape, etc. We look for article titles that resonate with our personal values–compassion, learning, innovation, justice; the list goes on. For an article to be worth stopping at it must offer some helpful response to our searching.

Who is a brand’s greatest competition online? Your friends and mine. I must frustrate marketers to no end with my mindless scrolling past dozens of ads and articles posted to attract me specifically. Their best attempt at gaining my attention is posing and posting as if they’re my friend with organic, useful, and engaging material. At the end of the day, I’d much rather look at my cousin’s baby pictures or my class’ discussion about our reunion on Facebook than any article, no matter how relevant. The rebrand pitch shown in the video (circa 2004) reflects this sentiment too. So, companies need to be intentional about their engagement, creating quality content with a human element.

One of my very favorite movies, despite its cheesiness, is 13 Going on 30. Please don’t stop reading. The scene I’ve attached below was what actually first piqued my interest in journalism. Lucy Wyman’s character pitches a sexy, futuristic, pushing-the-limits approach to the fashion magazine, while Jenna Rink provides a refreshing contrast. Her story board show images of ordinary, happy people and evokes a return to what Poise believes beauty means. Jenna Rink reminds them of their brand essence with,

“Let’s put life back into the magazine. And fun, and laughter and silliness. I think we all…all of us want to feel something. And we’ve forgotten or turned our backs. Because maybe we didn’t realize how much we were leaving behind. We need to remember what used to be good. If we don’t, we won’t recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes.”

The platform marketers/publishers/artists/writers have to positively impact their audience is wider than ever and should not be taken lightly. Instead of cranking out dozens of meaningless articles daily, companies ought to carefully craft a message that speaks to the human soul. And if people don’t find what they’re looking for with a brand’s content online, they’ll surely look elsewhere.

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