Marketing Tips Blog

Effective Content & the Power of Persuasion

Marion Michele Brown - Friday, March 14, 2014

We've all heard the mantra most social media marketeers take to heart, "Content is King", and it makes sense. Content is what you're putting out into the digital world that is picked up by existing and potential customers and followers. Content is what people are reading, watching, sharing and liking; without it there wouldn't be anything to tweet about. 

In this blog post from Social Media Today, a new perspective is given to the "King" of the digital realm, content. After reading this, you'll be pausing before hitting any submit buttons to ask yourself this: is this going to change anyone's mind?

[View original post on Social Media Today by Mike Sobol] Let’s be honest. Most content stinks. It’s not particularly useful, fun to read or compelling to its target audience. It doesn’t persuade anybody. But should it? Does persuasion really matter?

I know how I feel when people talk about persuasion, and it’s not good. My first reaction is to think of selling or convincing. Persuasion, however, isn’t about being president of the debate club. It’s about expanding your influence. Those two things are very different. You can expand your influence without making an argument of any kind.

If you thought I was about to coach you on making stronger arguments, that would make sense, because most talk about persuasion is about arguments– fundamentally, though, persuasion isn’t even about words. Never has been.

So don’t go writing a long form ad for your product, service, or point of view. I won’t read it. And I’m not the only one. Wait… isn’t content marketing the thing that’s supposed to save us from ads? Well, that’s the idea, it’s just that words and arguments can’t do that. Only actual engagement can.

It doesn’t matter if you have lists of reasons. Reasons don’t make you influential. Reasons don’t change minds.

Written Content Is Easy, but Words Aren’t the Cues We Read Best

Imagine meeting up with friends for drinks, bouncing ideas off a mentor you really respect, or attending a conference of experts who you try to emulate in your work. How do experiences like that make you feel? What do you remember?

We humans, we’re built for that kind of stuff– reading the cues of those around us. When we meet in person, talk, listen and exchange ideas and information with each other, our brains light up in ways that reading words can’t accomplish.  Just because we can publish unlimited online content, doesn’t mean we should. Writing is a flawed way of communicating. It just so happens that it’s super easy to do.

When we listen to people we perceive as experts, our brains engage in something called semantic elaboration. In very simple terms, we naturally try to process and remember what experts say. Not because of what they’re arguing but because of who they are.

When we see others looking friendly, hear a welcoming tone of voice, or pick up on cues about their authority, we tune in. We can’t really help it. We’re wired to make connections with other people we like.

In fact, we empathize with other people, just because they are people. Our brains have what are called “mirror cells” which literally create shared experiences between us. How we feel and learn about things because other people around us have already felt and learned those things for us might be the single biggest reason why the human race has achieved all that it has. Don’t take it from me. V.S. Ramachadran is an expert on the subject.

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