Worthy of Consideration: The 4 Different Ways You Can Make Your Content More Relevant
This piece partly came from the discussion I had with a friend on the merits of Final Fantasy VII, the arguably most loved entry of the long-running and highly popular Japanese RPG series. Our discussion was on how that reputation was deserved or not and my arguments was that the game was fondly remembered for its relevance to the industry as a whole and not strictly because of its quality, although it remains a good game even if it didn’t age as well as some other games. This idea, that something can be relevant without being actually good is important to the discussion around content creation and marketing.
In the world of content marketing, SEO services and marketers like to parrot the idea that content quality is king. This is true but it’s not the whole truth. In fact, I would actually argue that content relevance matters just as much, if not more, when it comes to content. Relevance isn’t always synonymous with quality, the question of ‘The Dress’ was as superfluous as it could possibly get, but it went viral nevertheless. This idea of content relevance is something that I’m going to deal with in greater detail.
Doubling down on the big issues
Circling back to the case of Final Fantasy VII, that game was notable for bringing a fully realized 3D graphics into a subcategory of video games that’s long been stuck in 2D graphics. From articles and retrospective written about the game in the two decades of its existence, it was clear that Squaresoft (now Square Enix) spared no expense in making their first 3D Final Fantasy game and it shows. Final Fantasy VII ended up as an industry-defining game of the late 90s where the video game industry as a whole was experiencing a shift from 2D to 3D thanks to the advancements in technology.
In short, I’ve always looked at the game as being notable more for what it brings to the table, not because of its quality, which is one way of making your content more relevant. The word relevant itself has a particularly wide definition and your content can still be relevant to a specific group of people without being groundbreaking to the industry as a whole. In the following section, I’ll outline 4 small, different ways you could make your content more relevant without trying to disrupt the entire industry.
Dig deep into the minds of your audience
One of the many, many things contemporary internet has made easier is the task of collecting data. If you know where to look, you could easily figure out the type of music your target audience likes to listen to, the type of publication they read, how they like to spend their money, etc. This easiness in collecting data has made it easy for businesses to construct an audience persona so they can create contents that would better connect with their intended audience.
Contrary to the popular belief, the persona is more than just a simple checklist. Let’s say you’ve found out that the majority of your audience eschews watching YouTube videos for podcasts and that they’re the type to carry metal straws and their own reusable bags everywhere. These facts are meaningless on their own but you can certainly come up with ideas on why they do the things they did. For example, metal straws and reusable bags are signs of people who care about the environment and you can use this as a springboard in coming up with ways to better connect with them.
Be timely with your contents
I don’t exactly like to use the term ‘zeitgeist’ but this term, which in German roughly translates to spirit of the times, is especially relevant to the practice of content marketing. To partake in the zeitgeist means to do something that is reflective of our current times. The zeitgeist is more than just the current fad; it’s also about tackling something that is relevant to the current discourse. It could simply be contents that heavily reference a piece of pop-culture, sociopolitical issues that are in the news or just general interest stories.
The point is to write about something that is being heavily talked about and find a way to insert your business in the discussion in a way that doesn’t seem disingenuous. This can be especially tricky so you might first want to start limiting the topic around something that’s relevant to your industry. On the other hand, you can combine this with the point above and create contents revolving around a topic you know your audience cares about. Be topical on the subject of your contents as the concept of relevance is pretty much related to time.
Create contents that solve a problem or answer a question
50% of the time, I’m typing something into Google because of a problem I’m having. During my early Instagram days, I didn’t know that it’s actually not possible for you to repost other people’s post within the official Instagram app, it wasn’t until I googled that question that I finally stumbled upon an article that tells me that I’m going to need a separate app to do that. Creating contents that solve specific problems within your niche could definitely help make your contents more relevant.
Try your hands at cultural marketing
Let’s take a look at the case of the film Black Panther. Make no mistake, Black Panther is an excellent film but part of what makes the film so culturally relevant is because of what it brings to the screen, a superhero film with a predominantly black cast and crew steeped so deep in African and African-American culture. Black Panther serves an audience that’s been underrepresented in Marvel films up until that point, which helps explain the film’s cultural relevance.
Black Panther is just one example; you could also showcase values that aren’t rooted in your racial background. There are a number of fashion brands that showcase their commitment to sustainability or it could be like McDonald’s which introduces culturally-specific menus according to the countries they operate in. The important thing to remember about cultural marketing is that you have to make it as natural as you can as a distinctive lack of sincerity can seem like shameless pandering.