The Content Corner: Branches—Stick to the Vine
A branch that does not stick to its source of nutrition will wither away and die. Just ask anyone who has received a bouquet of beautiful flowers about how long they really last. In the same way, as communicators we must stay connected to our audience, or we risk the chance of fading away into insignificance.
First-time visitors are great, but return visitors are your loyal following. In the argument of whether to target your current audience or seek to grow more, why not stick your focus on equipping your current audience with ways and incentives to share your content? By drawing them in with excellent content, design, and follow-up methods, you can turn your blog readers into action takers.
This is a fact that cannot be overstated, regardless of platform (blog, social media, etc.). As we look to build our audience, we must consider several factors to keep the current audience engaged and interested in why they began paying attention to us in the first place.
<p> — NWS (@NWS) <a href="https://twitter.com/NWS/status/719623142461857792">April 11, 2016</a> </p>
as did the Department of Energy (DOE). To spur greater public dialogue about the future of solar energy, DOE “remixed their content,” displaying their projects on an interactive map as part of the SunShot Initiative.
<li style="margin-bottom: 15px"> <strong>Have a short memory</strong>: Getting stuck on the first mistake can deter future successes. Keep looking ahead, and remember to stick to the plan you’ve laid out for connecting with your audience (with tweaks here and there based on your results). (Football reference below, at the risk of turning off many readers—good NFL cornerbacks are <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000639931/article/hargreaves-leads-safest-picks-among-cbs-in-2016-nfl-draft">said to have short memories</a> so they can move on after a bad play—<a href="http://kryptonianroe.tumblr.com/post/101556575022">like this guy</a>). </li> <li style="margin-bottom: 15px"> <strong>Stay focused</strong>:<strong> </strong>As Haley Van Dyck from the U.S. Digital Service said at a recent <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/haley_van_dyck_how_a_start_up_in_the_white_house_is_changing_business_as_usual">TEDTalk</a>: “We care about making government work better, because it’s the only one we’ve got.” Every piece of content we create should be working towards this goal, improving services for our audience. At first glance, visitors may not be 100% on board with your content. However, they might come back if they are offered something in return. </li> <li style="margin-bottom: 15px"> <strong>Be inclusive</strong>:<strong> </strong>We all get frustrated when we experience slow load times or don’t find the content we expect when <a href=" /2015/02/25/avoid-weak-links-in-your-digital-chain/ ">clicking on a link</a>. But what if you have vision impairment and you click on a link from your favorite social media channel, only to find that the landing page is full of images that are not readable by screen readers? Staying <a href=" /2015/01/28/6-digital-media-trends-for-2015-you-can-make-them-accessible/ ">508 compliant</a> will create an accessible user experience. </li></ol> <p> Implementing a few of these tips should help as you seek to draw and keep your audience. What interesting things has your agency done to foster an environment that keeps your audience? </p><p> <i>In a future post, I’ll discuss some strategies to keep content alive, so like the aforementioned branches and our beloved D.C.-area Cherry Blossoms, it doesn’t just wither and die.</i> </p> <p> <i>I’m no expert at this stuff; I simply want to provide my perspective. Us content creators at <a href="http://firstnet.gov/newsroom/blog">FirstNet</a> are considering the same things, and trial and error is a huge part of that. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.</i> </p> <p> <em>You’ve just finished reading the latest article from our Monday column, <a href=" /tag/the-content-corner ">The Content Corner</a>. This column focuses on helping solve the main content issues facing federal digital professionals, including producing enough content and making that content engaging.</em> </p>