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7 Signs Your Content Is Human

By Simon CreedComments

7 Signs Your Content Is Human

Imagine the scenario: You’re on a first date. Wait. Let’s make that a blind date.

You’ve never met this person before (presumably), but you’ve probably got a good idea of what you want them to be like. Funny? Smart? Ambitious?

I’m willing to bet they’ve got their preferences too.

We all make assumptions. We all make snap judgements. We all have expectations.

People look for desirable personality traits in others and make up their minds pretty fucking quickly.

Well, guess what?

It’s no different for content.

If a reader sees your content as simply going-through-the-motions - if it is without personality - the likelihood is they’ll palm it off in search of something better.

You might’ve written an in-depth, insightful, statistically sound blog post - but if it’s bland - if the reader doesn’t feel that ‘spark’ - you’re gonna get stood up.

So what makes content human?

1. It gets the reader

Empathy is as crucial in marketing as it is in our personal lives.

The ability to sense and pre-empt how other people will feel and react in countless scenarios is an understated gift. It lays the foundations for most human relationships.

Understanding your target audience will get you far. So take the time to really think about how their pain points affect them, where they’re looking for a solution and what you can do to alleviate their situation.

Whether it’s auditing and adapting future content, asking the public or buyer persona research. Learning where your audience hangs out online and the types of content they digest relies on you putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes…

"GREAT MARKETERS HAVE IMMENSE EMPATHY FOR THEIR AUDIENCE. THEY CAN PUT THEMSELVES IN THEIR SHOES, LIVE THEIR LIVES, FEEL WHAT THEY FEEL, GO WHERE THEY GO, AND RESPOND HOW THEY'D RESPOND. THAT EMPATHY COMES OUT IN CONTENT THAT RESONATES WITH YOUR AUDIENCE."

Brands that use empathy to this effect can devise compassionate responses based on what’s in the best interest of their audience.

Go the extra mile and get to know the people you want to consume your content.

2. It’s actually helpful

Because that’s why content marketing exists.

If it isn’t helping the reader, it’s defunct. Void of any reason to exist.

We know that inbound and content marketing aren’t about the hard sell. They’re about digging down into the audience’s problems and offering advice and practical solutions - or as Jay Acunzo puts it “Content marketing is just solving the same customer problems as your product but through media you create and distribute.”

Content should educate. It should enlighten. It should be useful.

By answering the questions your audience is asking - and answering well - you’ll build rapport and trust. Because who doesn’t like a pal who’s great at giving advice?

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3. It’s (insanely) honest

Let’s stay with that trust thing for a moment longer…

Barbra Streisand once said:

“The audience is the best judge of anything. They cannot be lied to. Truth brings them closer.” (Click to Tweet)

Do not risk alienating your brand. It should be obvious that falsities and white lies are not endearing content features.

But what if you could do more than simply telling the truth? What if you owned the truth - with total, naked, audacious honesty?

This Hubspot article takes on what has become known as Insane Honesty.

The idea that brands can build ultimate trust with an audience by laying every single last card on the table. Embrace your pitfalls. Admit your weaknesses. Laugh at yourself...

Amsterdam's notorious budget hostel Hans Brinker have been using Insane Honesty - with a no shame policyto endear tourists for some time now...

Humanising content marketing

...and it's worked!

This approach to content seems almost ridiculous to some, but it’s definitely human. It reassures people and brings them closer to your brand. Because trust is important and the truth breeds trust.

4. It’s jokes

First impressions are important. Boring conversations are easily forgotten, and - let’s be honest - a little bit awkward.

Econsultancy call using humour in marketing a ‘dangerous art’ - and they’re not far wrong. But if you keep it smart and really drill down into what your audience will find funny, it’s definitely worth doing.

It’s true, there is an art to it.   

"KEEP YOUR OVERALL IMAGE IN MIND. DON'T JUST BE FUNNY FOR THE SAKE OF IT, IF IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF YOUR BRAND."

Humour might be universal, but it’s also subjective. It’s not easy finding the balance between funny and offensive. But I’m not talking dad jokes, vulgar puns and badly bodged, so-last-week memes...

Check out these seven B2B brands doing humour the right way.

In marketing, brands who find their voice and, more specifically, their sense of humour are the ones starting interesting conversations, receiving thousands of shares and holding out a hand to their audience. Because brands and people are one of the same.

It’s easy to play it safe, but safe isn’t memorable.  

5. There’s fire in the belly

If you can show your audience that you are truly passionate about what you do, they’ll know you’re damn good at it.

If you can show your audience that you’re as pissed off about their pain points as they are, they’ll know you’re ready to make change happen for them.   

“CONTENT FOR WHICH YOU DO NOT HAVE A PASSION IS REALLY HARD TO GET GOOD AT.  IF YOU DON’T LOVE THE CONTENT YOU’RE CREATING, IT IS UNLIKELY TO BE GOOD ENOUGH TO HAVE AN IMPACT. AND THAT’S WHY MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO YOU WOULD CONSIDER TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY GOOD AT CONTENT HAVE A TRUE LOVE, EITHER FOR CONTENT MARKETING AS A DISCIPLINE, OR A TRUE LOVE FOR THE SUBJECT MATER THAT THEY’RE CREATING CONTENT ABOUT.”  

When creating content to promote your brand, your ideas and your product or service: live it, breath it, be it.

Show that you’ve got fire in your belly.

Use your content to communicate the absolute belief you have in your solution. Identify yourself as an authoritative thought leader who actually gives a shit about your audience.

6. It’s gutsy

In a nutshell. You’ve got to have a bit about you.

You’ve got to be willing to take risks that others might not. Disruptive brands, brands that create unforgettable content are gutsy. They take controversial ideas to the drawing board and roll with them.

Remember you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.

It’s about finding your niche and honing in on what gets their attention. Creating fresh, unconventional content that has your distinctive brand stamp on it isn’t an easy task.

But it’s what sets you apart.  

Humanising content marketing

Humans are unique - with their own little tics and idiosyncrasies -  and your brand should be the same. Be brave with your content and carve out your own space in the reader’s eyeline.

7. It’s imperfect

Nothing’s perfect. There, I said it.

By all means sweat the small stuff, but don’t pull your hair out trying to make that next blog post the one. People are imperfect at the best of times.

Following best practices will keep you on the straight and narrow.

Make it thought-provoking, keep it conversational and for god’s sake be human.

Your readers will thank you for it.

You’re not a robot, so don’t act like one

So, there it is. Seven signs your content marketing is human.

You won’t necessarily tick every box on the list - but you don’t have to.

Clarify your brand message, closely define your target audience, adapt your content to their needs - and you might just get that second date...

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