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Content Warfare:

How to Find Your Audience, Tell Your Story and Win the Battle for Attention Online

By: Ryan Hanley

From television to social media, there are battles being waged between individuals and organizations on all fronts.

Except, as Ryan Hanley explains, instead of fighting with tanks, each side is deploying content to defeat opponents and capture the attention of prospective customers. 

Physical products, services, and interactions aside, the majority of the information we consume on today is considered content.

Blog articles, social media updates, Netflix documentaries, Snapchat stories, news reports, books – it’s all content in one form or another.

As the business landscape has evolved into a digital world and traditional marketing practices have given way to inbound marketing, content has become the center of most modern campaigns.

If your business is putting out poor or half-hearted content, be warned. You may be losing the battle for your audience.

In Content Warfare: How to Find Your Audience, Tell Your Story and Win the Battle for Attention Online, Ryan Hanley provides specific strategies to help your business rise above mediocre content marketing and start creating content that impacts your bottom line.

Hanley shows marketers why the scammy and spammy tactics that worked in the past are no longer effective and how today's buyers value the authenticity, transparency, and honesty that comes with content marketing more than ever.

Below, we’ll discuss several key insights from Content Warfare that you can use to win the content battle in your industry.

The Connected Generation vs The Unconnected Generation

As marketers, we’re constantly trying to better understand people. To make this easier, we typically break large masses of people into smaller demographics, such as Generation Y, Millenials, and Baby Boomers.

Hanley argues, however, that these different generations don’t really exist – at least, from a marketing perspective. Instead, he explains that buyers can be placed into two different generations: the connected generation or the unconnected generation.

The Connected Generation consists of individuals willing and open to communications and building relationships, who ultimately make buying decisions based on digital content and interactions.

The Unconnected Generation is everyone else. Unconnected Generation consumers often require in-person transactions, exhibiting an unwillingness to communicate via email or other digital tools, and general skepticism about the internet.”

Rather than positioning your marketing message towards one particular age group, Hanley suggests it’s most effective in today's market to focus on those who are already most willing to communicate digitally and make buying decisions online – the Connected Generation. 

5 Content Marketing Tactics the Connected Generation Can’t Resist

With 600 billion being spent by millennials alone in the United States each year, the Connected Generation is a forced to be reckoned with for marketers and the entire focus of inbound marketers like us.

The following are five essential factors to take into account when trying to make a play for their market share with your inbound and content marketing:

1. Intimacy

The Connected Generation wants to know more about the person behind the brand’s that it buys from. They want to hear about your family, your favorite sports teams, your hobbies, and your opinions. In many ways, this generation often blurs the line between professional and personal.

With this in mind, make an effort to share more of your personality through content, especially on social media. Here at IMPACT, we make an active effort to show our culture, interests, and sense of humor on our social media accounts.

For example, take our recent take on the viral Mannequin Challenge:

2. Vulnerability/Humility 

As hard as it is to believe, your brand doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, that can raise red flags with the Connected Generation.

The Connection Gen wants to hear about your mistakes and how you overcame them. These difficulties make you appear more human and relatable. This honesty also builds trust, showing your audience that you’re not hiding anything, hold yourself accountable for missteps, and are always striving to improve.

Our team tries to strike this chord by sharing personal stories and experiences on our blog.

From what it’s like working remote to dealing with the loss of a loved one, we try to be as open and honest about our struggles as possible and turn them into learning opportunities for our audiences:

3. Rich Media

The Connected Generation also wants more than just a blog post.

Members of this group are looking for content that provides a deeper connection with your brand and also offers a personalized experience.

Innovative Management Solutions (IMS), an IMPACT client, took this to heart, creating “a fun, yet challenging” quiz called “Are You an Oracle Primavera P6 Rockstar?,” with which visitors could test their knowledge of the latest project management software.

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4. Social Proof

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Although a personal referral is always best, thanks to sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and even Facebook, the Connected Generation is comfortable vetting your business through the social proof they find online. 

As a brand, you need to make an effort to earn and share sparkling social proof on your website.  

Another IMPACT client, Repsly, does a great job with this. On its homepage, the mobile CRM company highlights social proof multiple ways, incorporating both company logos above the fold and video testimonials as you scroll.

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5. Feedback

Last, but not least, the Connected Generation wants to feel heard by the brands they buy from. 

They’re looking to develop deeper relationships where they can not only benefit from, but help improve the products and services they use, and also feel a sense of belonging within the brand’s culture.   

Being active on social media, for example, is a highly effect way of promoting the two-way conversation necessary to build those genuine relationships.

When done right, it is also a valuable way of engaging with your audience as well as monitoring candid comments and customer feedback you wouldn’t normally hear. 

The Golden Age of Attention

We are often told that attention spans are lower than ever, especially with all the competition, but Hanley disagrees with that notion. 

“We’re currently living through the Golden Age of Attention.

Web viewers are more willing than ever to give their attention to content creators… with just one caveat. 

Your content has to be good. Screw that… your content has to kick ass. It has to add value to viewers’ lives, and not just once. One-hit wonders won’t survive.”

Unfortunately, the internet is full of crappy content.  

The reason people are paying less attention is because the standard for high-quality content has raised and consumers of The Connected Generation don’t waste time on content that isn’t remarkable.

To overcome the devaluation of unremarkable content, Hanley, like so many content marketing greats, advises businesses to shift their focus from quantity to quality.

People keep coming back for more when you deliver the goods, not when you deliver disappointment. In content warfare, you can’t expect to win the battle with a slingshot when the competition is wielding bazookas.

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