Lunchtime Topic ft. Shannon Lowery
Shannon Lowery is the Content and Social MediaManager for Visit Savannah, where she leads both leisure and non-leisure social media efforts. Visit Savannah, the largest business unit of the
Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, is the official destination marketing organization for the Savannah area. They work closely with the chamber member businesses to ensure the continued growth and success of our economy.
Shannon also assists with editorial content for VisitSavannah.com and spearheads the emerging and innovative creative campaign strategies. We highly suggest you follow Visit Savannah on social media (@VisitSavannah).
Most recently, Shannon appears as the talent in the “Hunter” series and hosts a new podcast, Savannah, Georgia, Anything But Ordinary.
Shannon’s contact – [email protected]
Learn more about Visit Savannah at www.visitsavannah.com.
What is compelling content? How is compelling content different from just content?
In this post, we’re also going to talk about humanizing your brand voice. We’ll look at the general idea of humanizing your brand and what that means and then specifically how you can do that using your voice and what exactly your voice is.
We will look at all those strategies using examples from Visit Savannah social media.
Creating Compelling Content
Here at Visit Savannah, we used to use the phrase ‘Content is king.’ And that’s been our big buzz word for the last maybe five years or so. If you weren’t producing content, you probably have started doing content in the last five years, whether that means getting on social media, adding editorial pieces to your website – there’s a lot of different ways that content can be created and can be distributed.
Because you and the million other brands have started creating content, there’s now this inundation of content. Compelling content is the good content that cuts through the noise of all the other content and it’s really important to have that because people are consuming content at unfathomable rates. They can’t even remember the things that they’ve seen on a day to day basis on Instagram. I’m sure if you think back to scrolling through your Facebook last night before you went to bed or looking at things this morning, having a cup of coffee, you probably can’t remember a large portion of the things you actually looked at. But the things you do remember are the compelling content pieces and we as brands want to produce this compelling content.
So in a world where we used to say content is king, content is now Prince Philip. Compelling content is the queen. This is a reference to The Crown. If you haven’t seen The Crown, watch it, that hopefully will make sense.
Compelling content is unique.
It stands out.
It cuts through the noise.
As I mentioned, there’s a million pieces of content on the Internet from pictures
Compelling content is the stuff that’s scroll-stopping. It could be scroll-stopping in a multitude of ways. It could be kind of shocking. It could make you feel a certain way. You might see someone you recognize or a celebrity that you admire.
Compelling content is influential in two different ways it influences our consumers, which is the big thing that relates back to our key performance indicators or KPIs. They are the ones that are buying our products, that are following our brands on social media, that are booking your rooms. They’re coming to your restaurant. Things like that. So, compelling content influences your consumer to make those decisions.
In the second phase of influence, compelling content affects your competitors. We all want to be leaders in our industry. We all want to be the top dog. We want to be the brand the other brands look up to and aspire to be compelling. Content really sets you apart from your competitors and makes your competitors analyze what they’re doing
to keep up with you. Think about your favorite ads and think about why you like them.
They’re compelling. What makes them compelling? There are four pillars that we’re going to talk about today. Two of these are compelling content.
The first one is awareness, and awareness really focuses
on educating your audience. It provides information. It provides value. It can raise brand awareness or product awareness.
It may not be quite as far down the funnel as far as the purchasing behaviors of your audience, but it definitely puts the bug in their brain. Busy audiences really appreciate the awareness pillar. They don’t have time to be doing all these “thoughts and feelings stuff.” They just want to get right to the gist of it. If you have any kind of a product or a brand that relates to busy people, awareness is a really important pillar for you to remember.
This is one that we really focus on at Visit Savannah being in the travel industry and a travel organization.
Aspiration focuses on people saying, “I want to do that,” “I want that life,” “I want to see that,” or “I want to go there.” It’s a very decision affecting pillar of content, and it makes your audience want to try something or do something.
Aspiration doesn’t mean envious. And we have to tread very lightly with that, especially at Visit Savannah. We were just talking about this before we started recording- the weather here, even though it’s cold right now, is not that bad compared to other places. We have to tread lightly sometimes at Visit Savannah about not rubbing that in people’s faces in this, but also capitalizing on the fact that we do have really awesome weather here compared to snowy, rainy, gray Ohio or wherever.
So when creating aspirational content, keep in mind that we want to be inspirational, but not creating envy.
This is where we’re really making the audience feel something, really tugging at their heartstrings.
If you’ve seen those ads that just almost bring a tear to your eye or they give you a little chill on your arm. That’s where people are focusing on the emotion and they hopefully arepositive, kind of inspirational emotions like that, but they can also sometimes be negative emotions. You can watch ads that make you really mad, that make you feel something very raw, and that can be a beneficial emotion to play on. But I would advise brands for the most part to be conscious of that because your audience doesn’t want to feel isolated and generally, people want to feel positive, not negative, especially in 2020 or so, whatever emotion you’re going to be really aware of the repercussions of that.
Identity allows your audience to personally relate to either the experience that’s being offered in the campaign or the ad or the piece or whatever it is. The audience may see themselves and the actors or models or ambassadors that are featured in the content. It’s a very niche perspective in terms of when you’re focusing on the identity portion of compelling content, so this particular pillar might not always hit quite as many people. It can still be really effective because people feel so personally related to.
You’re not always going to have all four pillars represented in every piece of content.
You may only have one.
You may have a mix of a few.
You may produce content in which the scales are a little bit tipped in favor of one pillar, but may include a little bit of another pillar. And that’s OK. It’s important to keep a very light strategy so that you’re reaching more people and not boring your audience, right? We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves as a brand, we always want to be reaching new audiences. Focusing on a varied strategy is really important for that.
A big, big takeaway from content creation, whether it’s for social media or otherwise, is to not be afraid to try new things and reach new audiences.
Whatever your KPIs or whatever combination they are, compelling content is important because it points directly to your KPIs and it should result in increases in your KPIs.
As I mentioned before, compelling content also establishes you as a reputable competitor in your industry, we all want to be leaders. We don’t want to be the ones just copying all the time or trailing behind all the time. Copying can be a really nice form of flattery and can still be a really successful strategy. So pay attention to what your competitors are doing, what’s successful for them.
Humanizing Brand Voice
How to humanize…
Now we’re going to shift gears from compelling content to specifically talking about humanizing your brand voice.
In the overarching sense, bringing a human quality to your content is what humanizing your brand is. It’s bringing real emotions, real feelings, real people, real stories…incorporating that into your content strategy as a brand.
It shows that people, and not robots, are creating your content.
In the literal sense, it can mean showing faces or showing people in your photos. It can mean including narration or voice overs on videos or Facebook like videos, and it can also mean using strategies like influencer marketing or other non actor ambassadors, and that includes your local community. It includes your employees, your users, whatever that may be.
There’s a lot of different ways to go down the rabbit hole of humanizing your brand and all of those different verticals, but in the more metaphorical sense, humanizing your brand means being honest and being heartfelt. Whether that’s in the copy that you’re using in an Instagram caption or in the editorial of the piece that you write, it’s about being really true about your product, about your brand and about your story. It also means that you take pride in your audience and your team and in yourself as a content manager.
Humanizing your brand shows people again that there’s not it’s not just a robot pumping out social media posts that are never looked at again. People know that there are people behind the accounts that are reading the comments, that are answering the questions, that are really thinking about the content that’s being produced and doing it in a very intelligent and emotionally responsible way.
Humanizing the brand also kind of in the in the metaphoric sense means that you read the room. If we just had computers pumping out our content and creating our content and getting our content and responding to things on social media, they don’t they don’t have that sense or sentiment, but people do. And people are able to read the room, especially in 2020. You would have never been able to adjust your content strategy to whatever was happening in the world in 2020, but because we have people managing things, we need to take advantage of that and adjust our copy or tone our voice, whatever it may be, to adjust to what’s going on in the world.
The last thing that’s really important when talking about humanizing your brand and your brand voice is that this means that brands are accepting of imperfection. Because we are humans creating the content, we’re not always going to be perfect. That means that sometimes every once in a while you’re going to have a typo or grammatical error. You might say the wrong information. You might answer a question wrong. It’s not all going to be perfect, but a human brand and a brand that is really actively pursuing being human will be OK with that and will know how to move on from it.
Establishing Brand Voice…
Let’s talk about brand voice. Specifically on social media. Brand voice on social media was something that I had to make my own when I came onto the team and we already had a really strong brand voice, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spin it to be my own, but it wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight. Here are some ways that you can take some ownership of your brand in your brand voice starting right away.
It’s important to not be too formal and to keep things casual. Also, make sure that when you’re answering questions, when people are asking for tips or suggestions on things, be really honest with them.
People ask us all the time, where’s the best place to eat this or do that or see the sunrise or see the sunset, and we give them honest tips. We always provide several suggestions, and options, but I’m not going to tell somebody that wants to see the sunrise to go to the back river beach on Tybee.
Another really good way to keep things casual and clear is to include emojis, include appropriate punctuation. It may not always be appropriate for you to use emojis on your brand, but if you have a more playful one, it can be a really good way to connect with your audience and show that there’s a person behind here and not just a bot pumping out an autofill comment or question.
I really try and read through every comment that comes through on social media pageswhen people say something that is really heartfelt and really beautiful, I take the time to respond back and say something. You can also think about including a signature – that’s totally up to you. It adds that little extra personal touch that lets your customer know that you care. It’s going to increase brand trust, and really show more authenticity that someone’s really reading this, and again, it’s not just a robot.
Community management matters
When we have a lot of negativity on Savannah’s channel, we try and be a really positive brand, but we also try not to take any crap. So when we have a really awful, not just negativity, because that you have to let negativity happen a little bit – that’s just part of part of the world we live in. But when we have really awful hate speech, profanity, things that are really clearly going too far, we always kindly (with as much friendly tone, emoji, kindness as possibly), but firmly remind people that they are here to share in their love for Savannah and we welcome all suggestions and opinions, but please refrain from using hate speech or whatever it may be. Maintaining those page standards means we are making sure that people feel safe when they come to our pages.
Remember that your audience differs from platform to platform
It’s really important to mention that your audience is different on every platform Our audience on Instagram is pretty different from our audiences on Facebook. We have to adjust our verbiage sometimes on captions to speak to those audiences a little more clearly or sometimes just change the content altogether that we’re presenting to them something that resonates with our mainstream audience might not really perform on Facebook and vice versa.
Your brand should be both consistent and flexible
Remember that your brand is a breathing thing that should be able to adjust to nuances, but still overall maintain the same brand standard.
The really great thing about a good brand voice is that it should give your content creators some space to breathe. You could never feel totally like the words you’re saying are foreign.
As somebody that’s writing captions or writing copy, you should feel like you have at least a little bit of creative freedom to bring your own personality to it, even if it’s just in the most minor way.
A good brand voice really reflects the person behind the account, at least in a very minor way.
Your brand voice needs to evolve with time.
Brand voice can’t just stay the same. Our brand voice at Visit Savannah is not the same now as it was in 2010, and that’s a good thing.
We live in a much different world, so make sure that again, your brand voice is flexible and ready to evolve.
Create a voice and style guide
At Visit Savannah we have several different content creators that do things in the digital space. It can be hard because we all have different personalities and different personal voices. So how do we encompass that into one brand voice?
A really important thing that we do is we create a voice and style guide. And if you have somebody on your team that wants to undertake that power to them, a voice and style guide is really helpful in making it clear what the guidelines are and the standards are for the verbiage in the copy and everything that you’re using, the goals of your brand voice and all those things.
It’s also important that you review each other’s work regularly. We have a really open-door policy on our content team that we’re constantly running things by each other. It’s a really wonderful thing about working on our team and it helps us be more consistent with each other because we’re all turning the wheels at the same time in the same direction.
View Shannon’s slides by clicking HERE.