What is Compelling Content?

June 10, 2011By

Empire State BuildingCompelling content.

It seems to be an overused term. What exactly do social media experts and marketers mean when they say “compelling content”?

It’s hard to define. It’s especially hard for simpletons like me to figure out.

I try to think in this sense when I write content for anything – blog posts, emails, websites, etc. – Compelling Content = What’s the story? How can I make this interesting? What is the unique angle on this topic that will get people’s attention, educate them, and elevate their lives all while being entertaining?

It’s no small task, but it’s why some bloggers rise to the top with tons of followers while others flounder with just a few visitors each month.

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

Starting out each blog post with the question is another way of saying – why will people read this post? An even better way to think about a post is to picture your exact target audience, think of one person and write the post with the idea of entertaining them and keeping them interested in what you’re writing.

Here are a few examples of blogs that have the storytelling angle down.

A favorite blog of mine is Copyblogger. Take the post How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day. Now that’s a pretty interesting title and as you read the post you’ll pick up on the story. It’s interesting. It’s specific. The post has personality yet it’s full of actionable tips on how to grow a business blog.

Over time, the best blogs become stories themselves. While posts remain stories there is a much bigger story taking place every day on the blog. Readers come back because they want to see where the story is going to go next. Think of travel bloggers or food bloggers. They’re recapping their lives and people are interested.

One example might be Mark’s Daily Apple. I love this blog for all the good information on eating right and getting the right kind of exercise. Mark’s narrative is an ongoing story for readers. For years people have been coming back to see what he’s going to do next. Mark is always experimenting with eating and exercise. He’s always tweaking and improving the way he lives his life. People come to his blog every day because Mark’s story is interesting. Mark isn’t like other health gurus. He’s fun. He’s interesting. He has a story to tell.

A few other examples of blogs with great stories in each post include the Mint Blog on personal and business finance. It’s a great blog for learning how to manage money. The topic on the surface doesn’t seem interesting, but people pay attention and go back each day.

Another blog I find interesting is the Art of Manliness. Each of the posts on the blog are unique ways men can become more manly. Take, for example, the post Dressing Taller: 10 Tips for Short Men. The title is a great story and the post backs up the promise the title makes by being interesting, telling a story, and giving plenty of good and actionable advice. It’s great.

Back to Compelling Content

Compelling content is not some magical sauce you sprinkle over your blog to make it interesting. Compelling content is about telling interesting stories. The stories may not always be interesting to you. The stories need to be interesting to your target audience; your target customer.

Figure out what’s interesting to your customers, write what’s entertaining and educating and elevate their lives.

It’s one way to find success with your blog.

The next step is determining if you or people in your business can handle the task or if you need to go outside for some help.

Empire State Building image courtesy of John, NYC