If you are in the business of content development you should know by now that there is no way to know what will work with your audience.
It is sometimes baffling what will click with an audience and what may not. At times I have posted some well-curated or well-researched content but, found no takers. In contrast, some very random posts get totally unexpected appreciation. The pattern is same with learning content. You may design the best learning games or weave the learning into the best of stories but, when you evaluate retention, you realize the audience was not engaged enough to learn!
I agree that high-end learning does not work for everyone however, there often is no telling what does. What is making the business of catering to tastes more and more difficult now is also the fact that in this era of 'individualism' you cannot really club users into types or groups anymore. There are all possibilities that the content may not work for everyone in the group.
With increased presence in the social media at all times thanks to the smart phones, everyone has become an 'individual'. The digital social presence that started with chat rooms hanging out with virtual people in the late 90s when a conversation started with, "ASL (age, sex, location) please" is now crowded with curated presence on the Internet. You don't need to ask anything about a person anymore - just go to their Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Reddit, Tumblr or Instagram profile/ handle and it's all there. Every profile has a storyline. You can go on Twitter and check a person's political views or lack of it or read blog posts to determine their thought process.
Each and every person is a storyteller today and have the leading role in the story of their lives. No doubt that a recent survey recently reported that 50% of the Millennials think that their lives should be turned into a movie.
Don't be surprised. When you put up your life on the Internet and treat your smartphone like how Gollum treated the ring in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and share every moment of your life on a platter with friends and strangers, you obviously start believing that you are a brand. While many argue that this kind of presence on the social media is making strangers of family members because the only place they hang out together is on the Net, I firmly believe that being on the Internet helps broaden your horizons. The access to news, ideas and knowledge is immense and it is all free. When you are browsing all the time and learning so much, your IQ is bound to be much more developed than many others around you and you are bound to have very well-developed interests as well as dislikes - in short, you know your mind and don't care if it does not match your peers'.
Which brings us back to our dilemma, what works for such a diverse and eclectic audience who already have access to almost every information for free?
It is obvious that despite knowing that your audience has individualistic tastes it is not possible to create content targeted for individuals. So, what is the solution if we cannot create content targeted for either groups and individuals then what works?
The best solution would be asking them to do it.
Don't be surprised by the solution. It has already a rage in the marketing world and also in learning and development. It is called, Reverse Marketing' in one and 'Hands-on Training' in the other. It comes with personal branding and endorsement of and from each and every individual involved.
Have you ever thought why a Kim Kardashian is so well-followed individual with immense influence though she is neither a movie star nor a model? I am sure you have and the answer is that she is famous for being famous! She and her family are mostly famous because they hung it all out there for their reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The intimacy of sharing their daily life with television audience for several years made them immensely famous. And while we would think that daily life of a family would put people off, in reality it had the opposite effect. The audience bonded knowing that no one was writing the script and that the storyline was developing on its own just like their own lives and wanted more. The rest as they say is history!
Now, take for example the soap brand, Dove. They burst into your lives with real people and real stories. They ran a series of advertisements where unknown women shared their tryst with the soap on TV endorsing the fact that it made their skin feel smooth and happy. It worked. It still is working. Dove has no celebrity brand ambassadors but, has a thriving niche market!
Now, think of all the blogs and Instagram postings and Facebook and Twitter shares on the social media. It is engaging billions of like-minded as well as diverse sets of people with each other. The influencers with huge online following are as easily unknown people who have gone 'viral' as much as well-known faces from glamour, sports or politics.
So, coming back to our discussion, what works, well... Here's your answer.
I have said it earlier and I will say it again. You can click with your audience by being yourself and being visible. Create a strong platform for yourself. Make your opinion count and let the audience come to you. Be the viral guru!
Throw the platform open. Interaction is the key to your success. Let the users lead the show.
It is pretty simple actually. Let them set the pace. Here are some of the ways you can do it:
1) Use interactive platforms where your users can share their experiences, thoughts and ideas
2) Let the users lead the campaign or training - you can be the facilitator
3) Let the users dive into their experiences and share their understanding of what you want to teach/ sell
4) Ask them to upload videos, submit papers or write ebooks that endorse or reinforce what you are wanting to say
There are many other ways to do this as well but...
Yes there is always a but.
When you throw your doors open to the village, you need to keep a watch that your house is not ransacked.
What do I mean?
Simple. When you are letting everyone share their opinion in your campaign or course, you need to have the last word. Ensure that you check and curate everything that goes out to the world. Your role is the most important here. You will be the floodgate that lets the water out. If you don't know when to clamp-down and when to let go, then it may not work.
How to do that?
Well, that would be the topic for another story. For now, build your community, gather it together and take the plunge!
All the best!