More than ever, customers want to connect with your brand on a personal level, so your content needs to feel conversational. Here are five ways to achieve a conversational feel.
I always say, “Branding is 50% who you say you are and 50% who others say you are.” In that regard, branding is a conversation. You tell the world who you are, the world speaks back, you make marketing decisions based on what you hear, the world speaks back again, and so on.
The best tool in your belt to manage this conversation is content marketing. For instance, when you hear that the world doesn’t understand your values, you create a vlog post about them. When the world says it wants to know your team, you create social media tiles to introduce them.
However, it’s deeper than that. The conversation isn’t simply about correcting misconceptions; it’s about building relationships. And with any relationship, you have to make a connection—one that’s as authentic and human as possible—which is easier said than done, especially online.
If there is a TL;DR version of this blog post, it would be to “write the way you speak.” While you may be creating a written blog post, your readers will still hear it in their head. Besides, Google reports that 27% of people now use voice search on mobile. That means that if you want your content to be searchable—and why wouldn’t you—you need to write the way people search. The best way to make sure you’re doing this is to either speak the content aloud and then transcribe it, or to write it and then read it back to yourself aloud. If there are parts that don’t feel human, even if you can’t describe why, you should probably edit it until it’s right.
In order to save you some time, before you write or transcribe anything, I want to share five tips that can make your content way more conversational.
An important part of having a conversation is social equity. In other words, you need to speak at one another rather than down (or up) at one another. As a kid, I read the dictionary during the summer so I could crush the spelling bee competition every year, and sometimes it shows. I’ve been accused of being magniloquent more times than I can count. As a prime example, I sometimes use the word “magniloquent,” which means lofty or uselessly complicated language. If I used that word in conversation at a bar, it’d be weird, right?
Another pro tip is to read your content out loud. This is the best test to see if it sounds accessible. For instance, most people opt for “won’t” over “will not” in conversation, unless they want to emphasize its importance, so use contractions when you can. I also suggest some people even use swear words—gasp—if it’s a good fit for your brand. Strategic cursing is a great way to build that social equity I talked about.
A conversation is a two-way street. And a rant is not a conversation. Make sure you hit all the points that you need to hit, but definitely don’t make your content any longer than it has to be. After all, our attention span, regardless of age, is now estimated to be 8 seconds, so brevity is key. Learn to edit your own work, or ask someone you trust to cut down on the wordiness.
Who do you know that speaks in perfect prescriptive grammar all the time? No one, right? If you want your content to be more conversational, you shouldn’t write that way either. Start sentences with prepositions. Use incomplete sentences. Write as if you’re telling a story—because you are. Each blog post tells its own story, but altogether, your blog, your brochure and your Instagram tell a larger story about who you are.
And, of course, consider the elements of storytelling. Make it engaging. Think about the who (characters), what (plot), when and where (setting), and why (resolution). You can include most, if not all, of these elements even in a 280-character tweet.
This should sound like a no-brainer coming from Elevate My Brand, but put your brand into it! Your customers chose you over your competitors in part because they connect with your voice and your values. Those absolutely need to come across in your content. Because those elements are what make you sound like a person you could chit-chat with.
Not only are your customers expecting to hear your voice, they want to feel like the content is tailored to your relationship. For instance, there are tons of content experts who could write this blog post. In fact, there are probably several versions of this article out there in the marketing ether. My job as the author of this one in particular isn’t necessarily to say something new but to say something in a new way—a way that is uniquely me that my audience can vibe with.
It’s hard to have a conversation with text on a screen. It is challenging to create engaging content on a website landing page, for instance. I get it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still make your audience part of the conversation. One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask questions, even rhetorical ones. Your audience may not be able to answer you or speak back, but they can join the dialogue in a way by thinking about their responses to your questions. (Dora the Explorer is the best at this!)
One way that your audience actually can respond to your questions is in polls. Interactive polls are really effective on social media, but you can also insert them into emails or appropriate places on your website. You can then use your audience’s responses to create additional content. This makes you look very responsive, and it makes your audience feel seen and heard, which is what a conversation is all about.
Creating conversational content is easier said than done. It gets easier with time, though, so I encourage you to give these tips a try. If you want some assistance, though, you know where to go. At Elevate My Brand, we love to create engaging content for our clients. And we love a good conversation! Email or call us for a complimentary consultation.
Cody H. Owens, Account Executive
Elevate My Brand