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Marketers know that content is vital for building an audience. But sometimes the most relevant and witty content simply doesn't get traction. It might be the most insightful blog post, but it doesn't spark interaction or engagement with the intended audience.

So what went wrong?

For some insight into why content gets ignored, let's look into a hypothesis called "Warnock's Dilemma," proposed by a man named Bryan Warnock.

He offers five scenarios for why your posts might not gain traction.

1. Nothing more needs to be said

In some cases, you might well have written a well-written post that offers correct and reasonable information. But there isn't controversy in the content, for example, or there's nothing more to be said, so readers aren't compelled to comment.

Consider announcements about new product features. These are typically short and dry posts about bug fixes or enhancements, with mention of the new version number and what it means for the product.

To generate engagement and strike up conversation, such posts should be more customer-centric. Use simple language to plainly state what was changed, why, and the implications: What are the problems that customers face that are corrected by the new version?

Users want information that's presented in the context of their needs; they don't want technical data (unless they're engineers, for example, in which case the context is technical). They might not love the changes, but at least they are more likely to open a dialogue.

2. No one understood, and so no one speaks up

In some cases, none of the readers really understood your post, but for whatever reason they don't engage you for clarification.

Review your content to determine whether it might be overloaded with company or industry buzzwords. Unless you're posting on a highly technical and narrow-focus blog, you need to avoid detailed topics that are littered with jargon.

After all, there are "True Detective" memes and cute puppy videos to look at online, so the average reader doesn't have the attention span or the interest to decipher your post.

Readers want a story they can listen and relate to, one that causes them to think about an issue or engage in a conversation. That's not to say you need to be vague or long-winded; rather, your content, at its core, should have a story to tell.

3. Nonsense, nonsense everywhere

Maybe your post is just utter nonsense, and it's so apparent to anyone reading it that people won't waste time pointing it out.

This "dilemma" may be a little out of date. Nowadays, you can find vitriolic comments about the most innocuous of posts, as trolls seem to lurk in every corner of the Web.

Once you accept that trolls will likely pounce anyway, focus on writing well-reasoned, well-argued, attention-grabbing content that deserves a reaction—and isn't nonsense.

The posts that get people divided into two sides are the ones that generate opinion. Think Ford vs. Chevy, Google vs. Facebook, Miller Lite vs. Bud Light. So, to spur debate, you need to take a stand. Stop short of being offensive, of course.

4. No one read it

If you receive very little readership on a certain post, then consider the location of your typical audience members.

Use Google Analytics to view visitor traffic from Facebook and Twitter, taking note of the time they usually engage. Set up tweets and status updates at scheduled intervals using an app such as Buffer so you can cover a wide range of people.

You should also look at country-specific holidays to determine whether the audience's attention is being pulled in a different direction. Don't try to reach people in Sydney on "Australia Day," January 26, or push into the Vietnamese market during the annual Tet celebration.

You need to track when and where your customers are able to listen to your content, and tailor your communications to their schedule.

5. No one cares

Click on your company announcements page—and notice the barren wasteland that it likely is... Such pages offer great examples of content that people simply don't care about.

Now take a look at the places online that your community or audience tends to gather to discuss your industry, products, or the market in general. Chances are, you will see some heated discussion and passionate brand advocates.

What's going on?

Talking about your new initiatives is fine, but saying how awesome you are is not going to spark much interaction. Engage your audience—wherever they naturally hang out—with thoughts on how you can improve your services and simply ask them for suggestions.

This is free market research, right from the best source, and a great way to get people involved with your brand for the long term.

* * *

The key to avoiding being "Warnocked" is to produce well-written content that also takes a strong stance or offers something of value, in a language your audience understands and appreciates.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Girish Shenoy

Girish Shenoy is a marketing analyst at Freshdesk, a provider of online customer support and helpdesk solutions.

LinkedIn: Girish Shenoy