11 Step Guide: How to Become a Content Superhero
“The will is everything. If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely. Are you ready to begin?” – Batman Begins
I wasn’t raised on superhero comics, but I was raised on content. Commercials between Saturday morning cartoons and ads on bus stops were always interesting to me. Now, as digital content is taking the world by storm, I find it hard to see through the darkness of poor content to find what’s worth paying attention to. I’m sure many of you have noticed the same thing.
The bloggers, vloggers, and social media ‘gurus’ of today are a very different society of influencers compared to what many of us were exposed to only a few years ago. But there is still hope beyond posting a filtered picture of the sandwich you’re having for lunch… There are still content heroes amongst us! And you can become one. You don’t even need to get bitten by a radioactive spider.
Be the content provider that the world needs, and the one it deserves. Follow this 11 step guide to becoming a content superhero.
Write what you know. It’s been said before by many, but I’ll reiterate its importance. Writing about something that you aren’t a confident expert in will reduce your credibility with a potential audience. Support your content with your work, schooling, or passions. There are plenty of armchair quarterbacks in the world, but only a select few who have had the privilege to play professional football. People would rather listen to the person with experience than the critic.
If you were a busy IT worker with a passion for music, you might be inclined to create a headphone based vlog. You have the tech expertise, and you’re writing about a specific passion that you are able to connect to reality. Find your version of this and run with it!
Channel your inner Godfather here. Always have a reason behind what you create and always have a value proposition. Let the content speak for itself and make that speech very persuasive. If someone doesn’t feel compelled to read or share your content, they won’t.
You may be selling your services, your advice, a product, or your soul, but whatever you do, make sure the audience knows you aren’t just producing content for the sake of producing content. It may work great for cat videos, but not if you’re trying to have your content taken seriously or if you’re recommending a specific call-to-action.
No one has to pay attention to your content, that’s their choice. People skip advertisements for a reason and they don’t want to be subjected to ad abuse within the content they choose to follow. Millennials are especially privy to the thinly veiled marketing attempts behind certain content. Don’t pander to them. Don’t oversell your products. Don’t ask for shares in every paragraph of your text. If you sell a product, do it at a fair price. Be human so they can continue to relate to you and love your work!
In the current world of content, black and white is never re(a)d all over. Please use colours. And not just for the sake of it. There is meaning behind colours and many of the world’s most successful businesses follow this when designing logos and a brand image. Keeping on the topic of branding, be consistent. Once you choose your colours, stick to them and try to incorporate them consistently across all your social platforms. Consistency leads to recognition and recognition leads to trust. By establishing this trust with consumers, they are more likely to revisit your content in the future.
If you’re having difficulty finding one colour to stick to, use the Google Colour Pallette for inspiration. The colours work well together, they’re easy on the eyes, and if they’re good enough for Google, then who are the rest of us to disagree?
In addition to using colours, use images and infographics to grab the attention of your audience. Written content is taking a backseat to videos and imagery. A post with an image or infographic is 94 percent more likely to be read than one without. If you want your message to be read, then you need to find a way to keep the reader intrigued beyond just the quality of the text.
Yes, you need colour, but I said colour, not clutter. Equally, if not more important than colour choice, is leaving blank spaces in your images, writing, and on your website. If content is crowded by its surroundings, it doesn’t stand out. Reader Mode was created for reasons like this, but don’t force your audience to rely on it or you won’t have an audience to worry about for very long. Millennials have some of the shortest attention spans of any generation. Don’t expect them to stick around if they get distracted by what’s in the margins.
If you blog once a day, great. If you engage once a day, then that’s no longer good enough. Be the poster-child for content. Post pictures, vlogs, Vines, and links. Tweet and Retweet. Do anything you can to remain relevant in the eyes of your audience. With that said, don’t smother them.
Mix things up to see where you received most of your traffic. You might love taking pictures, but have three times the Twitter followers than you do on Instagram… Find a way to play to your strengths, and tweet those pics! Once you’ve established a few successful social accounts, you can focus more of your energy on those. The point is to avoid limiting yourself early on and to embrace new opportunities to share.
Did you hear about this cool new iPhone 4!? Of course you did, it came out five years ago… Did you hear about the iPhone 6s? Maybe, but maybe not, as it hasn’t been announced yet. Most people assume that the iPhone 6s will be Apple’s next big device, but the anticipation of the moderately unknown is what grabs the readers’ attention.
People want to be ahead of the curve and feel like they have an insider’s scoop. Help them stay one step ahead, with logical predictions in your area of expertise. There’s a reason rumour websites are so plentiful and successful. The model works. Remember Step 1 though, if you consistently get information wrong or seem completely lost, you might as well retire from the world of content superheroes.
Be productive. Don’t start a social account and then get back to things two months later once you feel like it again. If you want to turn your content into something more than a hobby, you must commit to the work.
You aren’t going to be living off of your instagram account, or at least not right away. So you must ensure that you have the time to treat your content as an important part of life, but not the only part. Unless you know something I don’t, no one has more than 24 hours in a day, and even the busiest of people are able to organize if they prioritize.
You may be the king (or queen) of retweets, but unless you’re always the one breaking the news, your audience can easily turn elsewhere to receive updates. An audience follows a person, not a concept. The topic is just there to show directions. Coming up with innovative ideas to stay ahead of your competition is difficult, but it’s what distinguishes you as an original, thought-leading influencer!
I’m not funny. I never have been, and don’t expect to suddenly wake up and be able to do stand-up. I am witty though, and I know that it makes my writing informal enough to seem relatable and clever enough that you know I’m not a complete hack. If you aren’t funny, that’s fine, but find a way to be distinctive in your particular area of influence. Find a way to stay fresh and real. Relating to your family, talking about your coworkers (with their permission of course), or going slightly off topic to give a birthday shout-out to your significant other, is enough to remind people of your humanity.
Did Charlie bite your finger? Did you see a double-rainbow? If so, you’ve stumbled into viral fame and need a plan to make it last longer than 15 minutes.
If you’re like the rest of us, and aren’t as lucky, don’t expect to find these shortcuts. Remember Balloon Boy? The hoax of a six year old getting trapped in a hot air balloon went viral, but for all the wrong reasons. Like cheating on a test, taking a shortcut can never equal what studying could’ve solved. Good content will rise to the top over time if you put in the effort, but only if you put in the effort. Expecting instant success will give you the same result as instant coffee. You’ll be left bitter, annoyed, and probably wishing you just took the time to brew a pot or make tea.
It’s common practice for people to purchase social media followers so that they can seem like they are a credible thought leader. Don’t do this. It’s easily detectable and many programs can test your followers to determine the percentage that’s fake. If you want more followers, start to follow other influencers and build up a basis of strong content. Remember, “if you build it, they will come.”
On a final note, you owe it to yourself to share your skillset with the world. If you want to be considered a thought leader in a particular field, you are responsible to make it happen for yourself.
If you get writer’s block or if you don’t seem to get shared as frequently as you feel your work deserves, don’t give up. Share your own content, connect on Linkedin, and ensure the people who care to know, can find out. We live in a big world, but the internet has helped it become a whole lot smaller.
Considering that I told you to be original, but managed to write an entire blog riddled with pop-culture references, you must take what you’ve learned with a grain of salt. No one has perfect content and people can sometimes find success using unorthodox methods. However you choose to approach your content, make sure to harness your skills for good, not evil. Channel your inner superhero and become the content smash you were destined to be.