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Extend the Invitation: What Kids Eating Kale Teaches Us About Content Marketing

Kale on its own tastes bad. In fact, kale not on its own usually tastes bad. Nobody has ever eaten anything, then, when asked if they liked it, responded, “It’s good, but I wish it was a little more kale-y.” We choke it down because it’s healthy. We tolerate kale.

2017 Digital Marketing Predictions From the Experts

Coffee shops have become one of my favorite places to work. The constant flow of people keeps me energized and helps my productivity, so I decided to visit one to write this blog. My plan was to write about new things to try in your 2017 social strategy, but when I got here, something happened that changed the topic. A group of high schoolers taught me something about content marketing, and I’d like to share it with you.

The Kale Effect

Just outside this Starbucks is a Whole Foods, and down the street is a high school. It’s not uncommon to see small packs of teenagers pass through for some sugar coffee after school: “Can I have two pumps of syrup, please?” However, the group that came in today was not brought together by an invitation for coffee.

At the center of their table was a produce bag of raw kale, undoubtedly from the Whole Foods, and there they were, voraciously tearing off leaves and chomping them down. To their credit, they weren’t buried in their phones. They were talking, laughing, enjoying each other…with kale. Then I asked myself, “How did this crew come together?” Presumably like any other gathering of friends: through a series of invitations.

What This Teaches Us About Content Marketing

Does your audience want to spend time with your brand?

The content you produce is a reflection of what your brand cares about and how it communicates. In short, it’s a reflection of your brand’s personality. So, when someone elects to consume your content, they’ve declared themselves willing to spend some time with your brand. For someone to consume your content, they must be willing to stop what they’re doing and commit some amount of time to hear what you have to say. It’s through that process that they get to know your brand better. When affinity intersects with need, the propensity to convert increases. People prefer to buy from brands they like and are most ripe to purchase when need is high.

What does this have to do with kids eating kale?

The invite for the coffee shop hangout would have read, “Hey, want to go eat some kale with Andy, Jessica, Justin, and me?” (I don’t know their actual names, they just looked like those would be their names.) Now, barring this wasn’t a meeting of the Sacramento Youth Kale Enthusiasts Club, the odds of five teenagers genuinely wanting to eat kale has got to be close to zero. So why did they show up?

1. Be the Best Option Available

Regardless of how your audience finds your content, consuming it has got to be better than whatever alternatives are present. As a marketer, many of the alternatives you can’t control, but you should still make your case as well as possible. None of the teenagers looked to be genuinely enjoying the raw kale, which tells me one of two things: (1) despite living in a neighborhood worthy of a Whole Foods, they had nothing better to do than eat tasteless leaves, or (2) they enjoyed the company of the other teenagers so much, they were willing to endure the social pressure to torture one’s mouth with raw kale. It’s probably safe to assume the latter. Simply put, whatever options were available to them after school, eating kale with friends was the best.

How to Drive More Web Traffic From Social Media

Your content is constantly battling to be worth the time and attention of your audience. Considering that your two largest distribution channels are likely social and email, it’s a tall task for any piece of content to garner attention, let alone consumption, let alone drive conversion. Your nurture email blasts and social posts get trampled under thumb as people scroll through their inbox or social feed, quickly judging which is worth their time to stop and consume. This is why understanding your audience is so important. If you’re not producing content they care about, you’ll rarely be the best option among the alternatives.

We like to refer to this as “relevance,” but that alone doesn’t encompass your task as a marketer. Conversions start with connections. Connections happen when the invitation you extend to your audience contains an offer that outweighs the options at hand.

2. Don’t Overthink It

This is the part where I blow your mind. Whatever you talk about in the content that drives the most conversion, create more content like that. Let that bit of genius wash over you for a moment. Ahh. Okay, come back. For my friends out there who dabble in digital advertising, this is your version of the “lookalike” strategy. Those people who consumed and converted on those top performing pieces of content, there’s more like them out there. Find more of those people with a high propensity to convert (likely people with whom you’ve already cultivated a high brand affinity and have a growing need) by producing and distributing new, similar content through your best customer acquisition channels. One of the best ways you can learn about which pieces of content will likely yield the greatest conversion in the near future is by analyzing what people share privately.

Conversations to Conversions: How to Measure Anything on Social Using Simply Measured

Those high schoolers were likely part of a Facebook Messenger group chat (Real question: Do teenagers still text?) with an invite to chomp some kale. Would they have shown up if they had seen a Facebook post with an open invite? Maybe, but it was likely the personal message through a private channel that evoked the sincerity of the invitation and helped them choose kinship in spite of kale. Receiving a personal invite from a friend to eat kale is much likelier to stir your appetite than a friend’s public invite in your news feed.

This principle carries over to your content. If you can tap into how your content is shared, and particularly what is shared privately through channels such as text, Facebook Messenger, and Slack, you have a crystal ball into what topics are emerging in importance among your audience. To go a step further, if you can go beyond the share and determine which pieces of content are resulting in conversion through those dark channels, you know how to make content that not only connects but also converts.

Next Steps

  1. Eat some kale, just make sure it’s in a heavily dressed salad. Or as a non-primary ingredient in a smoothie.
  2. Start looking at what content is shared where, especially what is shared privately. Consider that your focus for this quarter.
  3. Create content that resembles the message, tone, and media elements you identify as common threads across your most shared and highest converting content.

The combination of sharing and conversion represents the intersection of brand affinity and growing need. Let’s get more leads. Let’s get more customers. Let’s get more revenue.

Click the button below if you’re interested in learning more about how Simply Measured can help you determine how your content is shared and how to better distribute your content through social.

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Colin Zalewski

Product Marketing Manager at Simply Measured with a passion for full-funnel digital marketing. I enjoy a round of golf, a Kentucky Mule, and warm evening walks with my wife and dog.

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