Tag Archives: social content

Creating Relevant Content for Target Personas and Their Buying Stage

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One of the most common complaints expressed by brands and entrepreneurs is the inability of their email marketing to yield high open and click through rates. Invariably, the low rates are blamed on email content or messaging that failed to connect with the target audience.

The same holds true for content postings on blogs or social media. In a growing climate of info-besity, relevance is arguably the most critical attribute of any content intended to educate its target audiences.

content marketing

For content to be truly relevant, it has to resonate with a persona’s pain points or passions. A test of relevance could start with the following questions proposed by content marketing strategist, Joe Pulizzi:

  1. Who is the audience and specific buyer persona you are targeting for each piece of content?
  2. What’s the pain point you are solving for them?
  3. Is what you are saying really that important?
  4. Could they find the information elsewhere?

From Spending Motivations to Personas

But the process of first discovering the relevant personas is not as simple as framing clients with monikers like “Debbie Downer” and “Soccer Moms.” Unless the persona evaluation leads to distinctions on what topics intrigue each persona or where they hang out, the evaluation serves little purpose.

If, on the other hand, an examination is made of the audience subtleties that reveal distinct pain points or passionate interests, any blog post, webinar or mobile app aimed at these persona nuances has a chance of at least being viewed by a target audience. Where the rubber meets the road on delivering relevant content is when it reveals a rich enough insight into each personas interest that the marketer is credited with intimately knowing the targeted persona as well as speaking their language.

To do this effectively, the following audits and analyses should be conducted as a prelude to discovery relevant topics:

  1. An audit of the spending motivations behind current target audiences (i.e., Why was your offering selected?).
  2. An examination of distinct psychographic personas most associated with each spending motivation.
  3. An analysis of the traits, wants and passions associated with each persona.
  4. A translation of these persona attributes need oriented topics of interest.

Notice how this was down for the case of a custom tailor. Starting with why target audiences pulled out their wallet, four spending motivations were discovered. Customers of the tailored suits were either seeking (1) perfection, (2) pleasing others, (3) prominence or (4) posturing. But when further examining the psychographic attributes of personas, twelve distinct personas were discovered, each with distinct traits, wants and passions.

social media personas

Although this seems like an overkill, a scan of the twelve personas should convince you that these folks don’t hang out in the same circles; nor do they expect the same lifestyle image from their tailored suits. Each one showed distinct enough persona traits and passions to warrant dedicated content topics especially at the top of the funnel.

From Personas to Pain Points

Continuing with the analysis, each persona attribute now allows a consolidation of needs traced back to the spending motivations. This begins the process of defining relevant content without having to build twelve different segment strategies. In this case, eleven topics were compiled for potential blog content that addressed the following pain points:

  1. Not fitting in desired social circles
  2. Inability to exude charisma
  3. Fear of embarrassment from inappropriate etiquette or attire

Topics were developed as a way to brainstorm helpful tips that address these pain points. But without knowing the personalities associated with each spending motivation, pain points are difficult to derive. Consider the case of an organic food supplier whose target audiences include chefs seeking worry free appetizers; mothers looking for nutrition for baby development; adults seeking hair and skin development; and those suffering from inflammatory diseases. The latter, in turn, consists of 3 personas: a Deprived Athlete, the Closet Bound and the Les Miserable.

Each of the personas has highly distinct pain points. For example, the Deprived Athlete is mainly concerned with high burst performance in high pollen conditions. The Closet Bound is concerned with disguising ailments. And the Les Miserable needs energy and lifted spirits to get through the day.

Collectively, the target audience (inflammatory diseases) needs relief and could perhaps benefit from natural remedies; but their specific pains points require very different content. For a more complete evaluation of more small business personas and the process used to derive relevant content, you can download the free eBook on 74 Personas for Small Businesses

Closing the Gap Between Relevance and Your Goals

The next challenge related to relevance, however, is closing the gap between audience relevance and your own content marketing goals. Too often, marketers drift too far toward a target audience’s pain points without envisioning the following:

  1. An accumulation of expertise perceived by the target audience from seeing your content.
  2. ToFu (awareness stage) topics that naturally lead into solution alternatives relevant to your value proposition.
  3. A trail of repurposed content that allows richer webinars, ebooks and other MoFu (consideration and evaluation stages) content.
  4. Topics that are readily discovered through search.

Instead, the targeted content often leaves a confusing trail of perceived subject matter expertise. And if the addressed pain points are scattered across too many disjointed topics, target audiences will struggle trying to grasp your value proposition as well as validating your understanding of their business challenges.  

Building Your Trail of Expertise

To do this effectively, notice how a real estate accountant considered their trail of expertise and customer orientation in line with one of their target audience’s pain points. Nine blog posts were aimed at addressing the needs of a property manager faced with the housing and condo meltdown in South Florida.

From the blog post titles, it is clear the accountant has an understanding of property manager’s cash flow problems. Finally, the content is sequenced along a consistent cash flow topic thereby allowing for the development of a more comprehensive ebook or webinar on maximizing property cash flow. This middle-of-the-funnel content entitles the accountant to an email opt-in, an option not available for less valuable blog posts.

relevant content example

Rather than chasing every pain point associated with the 4 audiences and their respective personas, the accountant focused on the residential property manager. By maintaining a consistent focus on their condo and HOA cash flow issues, the accounting firm validated their expertise while showing an appreciation of the property manager’s pain points.

And in the process, a stream of blog posts was repurposed into more valuable content. Without the trail of preceding blogs, however, the resulting eBook would likely have a low open rate as property managers had little chance to examine it’s the firm’s accounting expertise and knowledge of property management.

So to make your content relevant, start your process by asking why folks buy your product or service in the first place. From these spending motivations, find the subtleties in personas that reveal new insights on pain points. Then ask yourself what questions might be asked to resolve their problems.

While doing this, consider how the question could be diced into individual blog posts later consolidated into an ebook that addresses the problem more completely. This allows you to build a trail of trustworthiness posts for your audience to examine before digesting a more complete solution to their problems. 

 So what other ways can content be made relevant? Please share your own thoughts. 

Part I Blogging Tips: Blogs T-U-N-E-D for Audience Connection

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Are you wondering what it will take to stand out among 400 million registered blogs? By now, you have likely heard how the latest in visual storytelling, entertainment and inspirational content can set you apart. But there are a lot of basics to blogging that we often neglect. This blog series  describes what it takes to ensure your blogs are tuned to target audiences (Part I),  focused on attraction (Part II) and backed by consistent quality (Part III)


Getting your blogs T-U-N-E-D for audience connection implies that you are writing on burning issues relevant to your hyper-targeted audience. It also means that the content is new and easy to digest since the average time to decide on blog reading is under ten seconds.

Trended Topics

So one of the first questions to ask when researching topics for your blog is whether the topic is new and trending upward. To help in this effort, there are many tools you can use to gain insight about the latest Google and Twitter search queries. For example, I selected the domain name “blog.socialcontenmarketing.com” to host my blog based on what I found on Google Trends for search popularity as well as what Topsy revealed on the level of Twitter engagement for this term. Based on the results, it made sense to use the long tailed term as a common thread throughout all of my posts.

Trending terms for SEO

But tuning your blogs to trends goes beyond a mere search for SEO queries. Another way to ensure high trending is to tie their posts to current events. Just witness the many ways bloggers attempt to tie in Mother’s Day or the Super Bowl into their blog post storylines.

User Generated Questions

The second question to ask in tuning your content is whether the post is too focused on your own offerings instead of answered a user generated question. One of the best ways to have your content resonate with an audience is to address an issue that keeps them up at night.

For Marcus Sheridan, this meant preempting his target audience’s questions like:

  • What does a fiber glass pool cost?
  • Who are the best suppliers?
  • What are some of the shortcomings in pool life and installation?

To his pleasure, no one else seemed willing to address these issues for fear of competitive exploitation or the risk of creating a premature expectation with the prospect.

Like Marcus, a common practice followed by leading bloggers is to actually survey their customers on what they are most anxious about when considering a solution the blogger can address. Others examine the FAQs logged over time from their field sales force or customer support teams. 

Another approach is to observe the questions that come up in discussion forums like those found in LinkedIn Groups. Ideally, you want to answer aggravating questions that cost your readers time and money. This will further help in search results since questions on cost and aggravating pain points get searched very day.

Niched Audiences

Based on the exploding number of registered blogs, the route often taken by successful bloggers is to hyper-target their content with long-tailed topics. For example, to connect in today’s overcrowded blogosphere, you have to offer more than advice on ladies footwear. You have to offer tips specific to elderly athletic women’s footwear.   

Ideally, every post should be mapped to one of your target audience personas along the lines of the residential realtor example shown below. Starting with four targeted audiences identified by their spending motivations (sunbelt retreats, wealth management, life transition and temporary accommodations), sixteen personas were identified based on their unique habits and aspirations. This led to a clearer understanding of pain points that would not be recognized without dissecting the audience into distinct personas.

Pain points and personas

Persona Pain Points Identified for Residential Realtor Bloggers

The mistake made by many is to assume you can write for everyone. But imagine the interest an ROI Maximizer persona would have in first purchase handholding or the interest a Mobile Crew persona would have in high society acceptance. By targeting as niche an audience as possible, realtors have an opportunity to address a target audience’s biggest pain point by tailoring everything to help only them. And by writing the post as though it were solving a specific problem for a single person (i.e., singlecasting), readers will likely credit you with empathy, helpfulness and expertise. 

Evergreen Content

Once a blog topic candidate is considered, it is important to ensure it doesn’t date quickly. Known as evergreen content, some blog posts can be written once and re-run in the future without it being rendered obsolete. This is why blogs on how-to’s or foundational topics are more effective than news stories. Writing a blog on conservative politics, for example, could remain perpetually relevant. But a story on “Top Tea Party Members Likely to Shake Up the Republican Party” would not likely have any value two years from the post.

The timelessness of this content gives it a high search ranking and great potential for accumulating links over time. As a result, traffic to the blog will improve over time as the evergreen content continues to gain traction with its target audiences.  

Digestible Content

The final question to ask when tuning your blogs for audience connection relates to how easy it to digest. Blog readers like posts that are concise and to the point. This starts with putting aside your writing formalities and using a conversational tone. If you write like you speak, your content more often stays on topic.

Consider the use of visual components as much as possible provided that they are self-explanatory.  As discussed earlier, visual components like infographics are mentally processed much quicker than text. 

All this assumes that the reader caught the gist of your topic from a well-crafted title and an opening sentence question that sets the stage for what is to come. The title itself has to let the reader know how the post will benefit them. And if the title includes a numbered sequence like “5 Ways to…” or 7 Steps to …” readers gain an expectation for and sense of accomplishment from completion. 

So what are some of your additional suggestions for T-U-N-I-N-G your blogs for audience connection?

Creating Meaningful Personas for Storytelling Audience Development


With the ever growing attention on brand storytelling, we may want to take a deep breath in tackling step one: defining your audience personas. Experienced practitioners and academics know this step will make or break your entire brand story. But the process is not as simple as framing clients with monikers like ”Debbie Downer” and “Soccer Mom.” 

Start with Spending Motivations

The type of storytelling that  truly distinguishes your content with an emotional connection requires a deeper insight into the psycho-graphic dimensions of your targeted audiences.  If you are not convinced, ask yourself if these football audiences below have the same spending motivations for attending a football game. 


Super Bowl Spending Motivations

Now consider whether the ‘bonding’ segment (upper right) should be treated as a single persona. Would a sports fanatic have the same needs as a ballparker? If not, your brand storytelling is likely to get lost.

Refine with Psycho-graphic Dimensions

By delving deeper into the psycho-graphic personas that make-up each spending motivation, you will also get a better idea of where your audiences like to hang out. For example, the cosmetic dentistry arguably targets four spending motivations: 

  1. Those attempting to Attract the Best
  2. Those attempting to Feel Their Best
  3. Those attempting to Look Their Professional Best
  4. Those attempting to Remember the Best

But notice from the four distinct “Attract the Best” personas shown below how the needs and targeted communities differ widely across each persona. Only by recognizing the deeper sense of values, attitudes and lifestyles shared by persona subsets of a spending motivation segment will you understand the relevant elements of a story. Moreover, this richer understanding will determine where you encounter these folks as well. 


Cosmetic Dentist Personas within the “Attract the Best” Audience

Combine Motivation and Personality

When you combine both spending motivation and psycho-graphic personality sets into the same audience persona analysis, you benefit from a more pinpointed brand story that encounters your target audience in the right community and with the right value.

Our FREE complimentary eBook on this subject shows how this was done for four small business markets. The custom tailoring business, for example, led us to recognize 14 different personas. Although this seems like an overkill, your scan of the personas below should convince you that these guys don’t hang-out in the same circles; nor do they expect the same image from their custom tailored suits.


14 Custom Tailors Personas Derived from Spending Motivation & Psycho-graphics

So what is your take on this process? Do you find you connect better by slicing your markets by spending motivation AND personality? Or do you take a different approach towards identifying your audiences?

Enjoy the eBook. 


Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #5 Irony

Does the thought of inspiring your YouTube video communities with entertaining content make you nervous? What if your attempts at being funny don’t catch on?  

Follow these 4 tested techniques for applying irony to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that the use of irony is the fifth most effective humor technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.

irony4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Irony

Irony, much like that of any perceptual discord, is characterized by a contrast, between expectations and reality. Rooted in the Theory of Incongruity, irony makes us laugh by showing the opposite or undesired intentions of someone’s actions. Mentally, we are saying to ourselves: “…I did not see that coming…”

Irony can be realized in the form of visual anomalies (e.g., unusual pairing, wrong personas and temperaments, hypocritical behaviors) or conceptual incongruities (e.g., wild coincidences, misunderstandings or something scripted out of place). In each case, we detect a mismatch with what we expect to see.

In general, most viral videos featuring irony fall under the following four categories:

  1. Visual Irony
  2. Ironic Temperament
  3. Ironic Persona
  4. Situational Irony
Social Videos

Comic Devices Used in Humorous Irony

Visual Irony

Visual irony refers to the use of two or more images that don’t belong together. An unusual pairing of well known characters or scenes, for example, make us laugh at the imagined conflict.

These inevitable battles were played out well in the 1970s show “The Odd Couple.” The series featured a neurotic neat freak pitted against an untidy, cigar chomping gambler.  Audiences, in this case, laughed at the how the two mismatched friends could possibly share an apartment following their divorces.

Social Videos

Mismatched Oscar and Felix Featured in the “Odd Couple”

Other examples of visual irony include the casting of humans as animals or cyborgs as humans. In both cases, the irony is enjoyed as we witness the acting out of a creation mismatch. Similarly, an oxymoron like the living dead, friendly adversaries or a screaming mime create laughter as we envision the inherent conflict.

Ironic Temperament

Another successful way to get laughter from irony is through the display of temperament anomalies. A common way to display this anomaly is with the mellowing of cantankerous personalities like the volatile John McEnroe or Bobby Knight.  

This can also be accomplished through the juxtaposing of characters in contradicting or aberrant ways. The films below show examples of a mother and daughter fiercely arguing over each others kind attributes as well as a beautiful woman admiring a man’s unattractive habits.

Ironic Persona

Our third technique used in irony involves the miscasting of character roles or intentions. This is often accomplished through the display of mistaken identities, adult acting children or childish acting adults.

This mismatch of personas can also create laughter when we see the least likely character to play a certain role. In the films below, we see this enacted in the form of unlikely hero figures.

Situational Irony

Finally, we often laugh over situational irony in which actions have an effect that is contrary to what was expected. This often happens in the case of a coincidental backlash, where the odds of such an unexpected scene spoiler are infinitely low.

Other cases of situational irony include the undesired outcomes resulting from misunderstandings or the scripting of behaviors in a misplaced or rhetorical setting.  We sometimes see this displayed in commercials through unorthodox routines, such as when employees let loose in an office setting.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross-Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 8% involved some type of irony. This form of viral video engagement ranked number ten, eight and five in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using irony as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #1 Exaggeration

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 Does the thought of inspiring your YouTube video communities with entertaining content make you nervous? What if your attempts at having fun simply fall flat? 

Follow these 4 tested techniques for applying exaggeration to your YouTube videos, and you will be well on your way towards engaging your audience. In fact, our study of the top viral videos demonstrated that humorous exaggeration is the number one technique used by advertisers to boost their viral video statistics.

exaggerationSo just when marketing folks are told to become publishers, we are now being told to become comedians if we want any traction from our YouTube videos.

4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Exaggeration

Exaggeration plays on many of our senses. We recognize it mentally and emotionally. Of the top viral videos we examined in this category, the most viewed YouTube videos were based on some sort of conceptual discord. In other words, we recognize something as over the top. The other YouTube videos were based on aberrant behaviors or visual anomalies as explained further.

In general, most viral videos featuring exaggeration fall under the following four categories:

  1. Exaggerated Outcomes
  2. Over-reactive Behaviors
  3. Exaggerated Qualities
  4. Understatements

Exaggeration Table

Comic Devices Used in “Over-the-Top” Humor

Exaggerated Outcomes

As a conceptual discord, we laugh when we witness over-the-top demos and storytelling. This theatrical shift from what we see as normal is often played out in the aftermath of bad dreams as well. And by adding a dramatic effect to our storylines, exaggerated dreams can also evoke our emotions like the infamous scene of Dorothy describing Oz when she awakes.

social video example

Dorothy’s Family Laughing at Oz Nightmare

Gatorade capitalized on this technique when featuring Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant in nightmares of each other that lead to ridiculous responses. (http://bit.ly/15JN3k7).

Over-reactive Behaviors

Our second technique used in exaggeration taps into our emotional response to ridiculous behaviors. In this case, we laugh at how others take such extremes to make their point. Forceful demonstrations are often loaded with intensity so that we can appreciate the peculiar nature of others.

Some of the top viral videos in our study showed scenes of extreme naiveté or protectionism where we shamefully find ourselves or close ones exhibiting these same fanatic behaviors. The laughter in this case has much to do with pointing out our own quirks as overprotective Dads, star struck admirers or wired up Type A’s.

Exaggerated Qualities

Some top viral videos that feature the visual side of exaggeration. Seeing the visual anomaly, our brains often ask: “can that really be true?” Some of the most popular comic devices used in this form of wit include the display of supernatural performances, motion distortion, exaggerated body reactions and incredible allure.


We also laugh at the other extreme. Consider this photo warning us of wet floors. Really? This popular form of comic wit is known as an “understatement.” In the videos featured below, we can see why we laugh at a profound grasp of the obvious or feeling underwhelmed.

social video understatement

Example of Understatement (Source: kenjonbro on Flickr)

The same applies to YouTube video scenes of characters oblivious to surrounding danger. Coca Cola, for example, features a sleepwalker unshaken by jungle danger in their 2010 super bowl commercial (http://bit.ly/cB9qJ9).

What Makes Exaggeration so Popular

The use of exaggeration dates back centuries as a comic device and popular figure of speech known as hyperbole. Consistent with the theory of incongruity, it suggests laughter results from seeing things out of sorts.

Using exaggeration can be a safe choice to consider for your viral video theme for the following reasons:

  1. It rarely offends any particular audience
  2. It can be easily grasped visually, emotionally or cognitively
  3. It can be easily produced in low budget settings (e.g., check out BlendTec’s 100M+ view channel success with a purported budget < $10K (http://bit.ly/di3sUP

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing spot TV ads (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted commercials that were subsequently posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 8% involved humorous exaggeration. This form of viral video engagement ranked number one, five and six in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using humor like this as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.