First impressions matter. So much so that there have been numerous studies done on their importance. If you don't make a good first impression, how can you expect to build a relationship? This same principle applies to the content we consume daily.
Because the pace at which we consume media has accelerated, and the volume of options has increased exponentially, we as consumers are more likely to make snap decisions on whether to engage or disengage with your content. The first impression you make needs to be clear, interesting, and easy to consume at every stage.
First, your audience will scan for points of interest.
Think about your habits first. How do you choose which book you read or show you watch next?
In the case of a book, you likely look at the cover and then read a synopsis. For a TV show, you probably watch a trailer for it first. Movies use a unique mix of the two with posters and trailers to attract audiences. Even newspapers rely on headlines and pictures to catch your attention. That's why they take up so much of the front page.
And that's the key, attracting an audience. It's the first impression of your content, the headline of your blog, the cover of your magazine, or the opening shot of your video that will convince your audience to stay. With only a few precious seconds, you need to make an impression and convince your association members that your content is what they want.
So, what can help your audience decide to stay and invest more time in your content?
Well, first, you need to make sure it's valuable for your audience, which means you need to understand what value you bring to your members.
Are you the primary source of trending data in the industry?
Maybe you're the go-to hub to network with other professionals.
Perhaps you offer educational content to help members update their credentials.
Whatever it is you do, make sure your members understand why they should be members and reinforce this through the content you provide.
Which brings us to the consumption of that content.
If you pass the scan and decision stages, the next thing your audience will be looking at is the content itself. Sometimes you'll make it to this stage, and then your audience will give up partway through. There are a couple of possible reasons for that.
One, being the content isn't appropriate for them. Meaning, you did a great job with the video title, but you cast the net a little bit too wide and got an audience that a) you weren't expecting and b) weren't expecting you. It's like going on a blind date and realizing five minutes in that you have nothing in common.
The second is that the format is off. Most web traffic today is consumed on a mobile device. If you navigate to a webpage, blog post, or video and they aren't optimized for the smaller screen, chances are you are going to leave the page without consuming any content. So, continuing the dating analogy, in this case, you decided to meet at a restaurant only to find out you are allergic to everything on the menu.
Neither one of these scenarios is ideal. The good news is, with the proper metrics, you can track this information and find out what did or didn't work. Then fix it, so your intended audience can move onto the final step - acting on the content.
When we're making a video (in my case, writing a script), we like to include calls-to-action (CTA). They will typically guide your audience to take your desired next step. For example, accessing more information on the topic, registering for an upcoming event, or downloading and reading a report you commissioned.
Now, not all CTAs are for everybody or every piece of content. The key is to provide your audience with a relevant next step. Sometimes that means converting them to a lead or revenue opportunity, but sometimes it just means delivering additional value through other content and resources. Some people will be satisfied with the first piece of information, happily leave and wait till you call them for a second date. But some people will want to sit and talk for hours, exploring everything you have to offer. You always want to make sure you give your audience the option to act on content and continue to engage with you. And, if each action happens to lead them to discover more about your association, or additional revenue opportunities, then it's a win-win.
To further explore this topic and find out the key to engaging and inspiring your association members feel free to check out this book (Moving Your Association From Analog to Digital). Chapter Two explains the importance of understanding and clarifying your message for your audience to stimulate engagement.
Chapter 2: Understanding the Why of your Association
What are you really good at? Are you a true resource partner to your members? Are you providing value they can't get anywhere else?