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Generate Content Inspiring Action

With more than 2.2 billion internet users1 and a couple of times as much content, it is becoming increasingly difficult to write content which stands out, is informative and useful, and can inspire the reader to action. The last characteristic, the call to action, is hardest to emulate as it depends on a number of factors, and can potentially lead to a user subscribing, signing up, bookmarking, sharing, and even buying from a website. So how do you perfect your content to inspire action?

The most important thing is to establish yourself as an expert and authority in the field because people are known to be more trusting of authoritative figures2. Sometimes it is necessary to showcase your credentials – diploma, academic title, specialization, years of practice, certificates, etc, but do not go overboard as it could seem like boasting. A good specialist will discern the knowledge of his audience and use terms and explanations appropriately. Finally, experts talk in order to be understood and not for the sake of showing off their expertise. When you are creating your content, analyze your material and determine the most difficult areas so that you can use further examples to illustrate. A convinced mind is more likely to take action.

Inspiring content usually names the villain (a problem), the hero (a solution) and the journey (how to apply the solution)3. Following this logic, inspiring content is much like a narrative which engages the reader from the start by focusing the attention on something nasty but familiar and promising a good ending. All three parts must be described accurately and briefly so as not to distract from the good ending. The general feel of the article must be of acquiring new and vital knowledge, which could be quickly applied for a better life.

Action usually comes about after provocation and in order to be effective, this provocation must be built up throughout the whole piece. Naturally, it should be subtle provocation, quite unlike the simple “I dare you to”. It should be thought-provoking and present new ideas, perhaps about taboo or obvious things. Good examples of provocation are non-profit campaigns4.

Vision is another necessary ingredient of a call to action as human beings love to be a part of something bigger and greater. Following the example of the Gates Foundation, it hits the most sacred nerve of all – helping small children around the world to live better – to get people to participate. But visions can be grand as well as small as the Dollar Shave Club has shown5. Its videos quickly agitate people to sign up by offering a small vision – saving money from shaving equipment – but an accomplishable vision nonetheless.

Content relevance should be an obvious part of inspiring content but it often, surprisingly, gets fully or partially ignored. The most common mistakes are of content addressed to the wrong audience, content which “has passed its expiration date” and content which fails to fulfill what it promises. A writer should always check whether the text answers the question in the topic and whether it diverts the reader’s attention in the right direction. For example, a specialist SEO article on an SEO services company should offer sound advice and data and link to the corresponding types of company services instead of the company as a whole.

Finally, the content should finish off by summarizing every sentiment, idea and scenario presented in it, and state clearly the call to action, which was hinted at throughout the whole piece. Readers remember best through repetition so a gentler reminder can bring all the pieces together and use the sentiment for an effective call to action.

References:

  1. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
  3. http://www.agencyseo.com/blog/inspiring-action-with-great-content.html
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZvpF6gaGH4&feature=player_embedded#!
  5. http://www.dollarshaveclub.com/

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