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The Sound of Silence: Why Your Content Gets Ignored

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

LinkedIn: Girish Shenoy

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  • by Gary Wollenhaupt Fri Jul 11, 2014 via web

    I will comment here to avoid the irony of no comments on this post despite several hundred views and shares. This post might be a case of No. 1, nothing more needs to be said. Comments are not always the best indicator of the value of content.

    Comments on posts are also related to the culture of the community on the site where the post resides. If there is an active group of of commenters, more posts will have comments.

  • by Peter Scoffham Fri Jul 11, 2014 via web

    Some good points raised here. Sometimes its a case of a company owner or senior management wanting to publish an announcement (eg about a new product, service or office opening)....and whoever publishes it is a "Yes" person that doesn't challenge and help them ask the "So what?" question (refering to your point 5).

    If you don't put yourself in your readers' shoes and ask yourself "So what?" then nobody will care. I don't care if you've opened a new office in AnonyTown...what does it mean to me?

    Benefits, not features people!

  • by Si Gornick - Moovd Sun Jul 13, 2014 via web

    Agree with Gary's points. I'd also add that this. The elephant in the room is the vast content deluge. Google changed the way its algorithms work and the result is more content from everyone. The more content there is, the more quality content gets lost in the mix.

  • by Kimmy Burgess Mon Jul 14, 2014 via web

    Proper content strategy is the main point where consumers and customers can be fetched. Sometime it happens that a proper construction of content can also not help for the site. It needs to be revised and include those prospects which a user wants to read. I agree with all these points.

  • by Steve Faber Tue Jul 15, 2014 via web

    The other problem caused by the "Content Deluge": Just as there is more crap content out there, so is there more excellent content on nearly any subject you'd care to name. Yours may well be top-notch, but they're likely 6 more on the same subject that fit the bill as well. Your challenge? Stand out!

  • by Asuthosh from Wed Jul 16, 2014 via web

    Another oft unconsidered reason is how and where people consume your content. When consumed when on mobile, it's usually difficult to type out comments or provide deeper insight. I might want to comment, but save it for later - only to be forgotten forever. And if I am reading it via a feed reader I don't even see the comment box. Tech needs to catch up to support engagement regardless of platform.

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