Content Marketing and the Power of Reciprocity

- Kelly Saunderson

Content marketing’s goal is to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content. Content that triggers a response to drive action. The notion of reciprocity — trying to repay, in kind, what another has provided for us — is a deeply ingrained human behavior. Providing content that the audience finds entertaining, insightful, or informative, means they may feel ‘indebted’ to support the brand in some way.

Content marketing is inherently reciprocal. You put in the work to create and distribute impactful content. The audience shows appreciation through engagement.

Engagement, as we know, leads to action and opens the door to the start of the sales cycle. Audience engagement comes in many forms. There’s those who will advocate and help market your efforts. There’s those who will contribute and participate. And there’s those who will show support in other ways, like contacting you.

Engagement is not a guarantee. Here are some tips to help foster reciprocity through engagement:

  1. Create content with your audience in mind. It is only natural to develop a biased opinion or get too close to our own brand. Develop a persona for your audience. KNOW your audience. Listen to them. Ask questions. Monitor their online comments and behaviour. Take the audience’s perspective to better understand what information, style and type of content will be appealing.
  2. Humanize your brand. Find a person within your company who’s relatable and a natural communicator. Feature this person in videos or develop an ongoing column. If no one volunteers to be a spokesperson, no problem. Create a fictional character.
  3. Tap into basic psychological needs. Try to develop content that plays into basic psychological needs like competence, relatedness/belonging or usefulness. Connecting to the audience’s psychological needs is more likely to trigger a strong response and lead to engagement.
  4. Monitor and quickly respond to audience/customer engagement. Engagement is a two-way street. Say you posted something on social media and someone comments. Respond to that comment. You received an email referring to a blog or web content, immediately respond. Treat audience engagement similar to a customer transaction — give engagement attention and priority. Engagement from brands breeds further engagement from the audience/customer.
  5. Focus on quality. Less content is better than bad content. Not every content piece needs to be a masterpiece. However, there should be quality benchmarks. Producing and distributing low-quality content just to fill space is a waste of time and does a disservice to your brand.

Think of the power of reciprocity. What will you get back by distributing low-quality content that is not tailored to your audience? What value are you providing your audience with your content marketing?

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