Posted on March 2, 2018 by Aaron Johnson
When we’re not working hard for our clients, many of us at Social Link love playing video games. Not just because they—and they are—but because all the time we’re fighting zombies and bashing koopas with Mario, we’re also learning a lot about audience engagement. A website is doing very well if it keeps your attention for mere seconds. Social videos can attract your eye for as long as a minute. Video games can keep you engaged for hours.
It’s a good thing we never listened to Mom when she told us to put down the console and go outside, because now we can pass our wisdom along to you.
#1. There’s Always a Bigger World to Explore
Designers knows that part of every player’s objective is to inhabit a completely different universe. The more complete the video game’s world feels, the more likely the player will stay engaged. Doors lead to nowhere. Objects show signs of rust. The world’s logic and rules are complete and consistent. Whether you’re meeting enemies or friends, the encounters are always memorable.
In the same way, great content isn’t just about the article or video in front of the customer’s eyes. It’s the first step in a greater journey. One article should always lead to the next. Details and examples must be highly relevant: don’t just quote statistics, explain why they matter. Introduce human faces wherever possible—your company’s spokespeople are the heroes and allies of your content universe. When people consult your library, they’re not just looking for facts. They’re looking for guides to a bigger world.
#2. Twitch Gameplay
Twitch gameplay is the game developer’s term for situations where the computer forms its own response to a player’s ability to react. Let’s say you’re playing a shooter game and the player is just a little too slow on the draw. The computer will adapt and slow down its next attack so they player doesn’t get frustrated and give up. On the other hand, if the player’s hitting too many targets, the computer will speed up its response time to make sure that the player doesn’t get bored.
Smart content has its own version of “twitch play.” For example, if you’ve developed a support library to help customers discover your product, help them self-segment so that they start at their own appropriate level of knowledge. Include lots of opportunities for feedback (“Did this article answer your question?” “Need more?”) and make sure there’s always a human being whose name is attached to the answers. This will help your customers stay engaged at a pace that’s natural for them.
#3. Make It Story-Driven
Video game designers have many techniques to keep a player immersed in the game, but it’s only when everything presented as part of a story that meaning begins to emerge. Plots progress with each level and mission. Relationships with other characters are formed as they tackle challenges together. When the climax finally arrives, it’s genuinely satisfying because a story’s central conflict has been resolved.
Content marketing should always build towards a greater purpose. Doing so helps people see that their decision to engage was time well spent. When someone steps away feeling like there was something of value, you can always guarantee they’ll be back for more.
#4. Create Levels
Is there any feeling in the world that compares to mastering a difficult level of a video game? Not if you’ve fallen down the same rock face a hundred times while aliens shoot at you from the clifftops. The feeling that you’ve “won” a level creates a sense of triumph—as well as an incentive to move directly on to the next level of the game.
Great content should also bestow a sense of accomplishment. How-to guides should be task-based: not, “Learn how to use X feature” but, “Using X feature to create Y.” People don’t go searching for information they don’t immediately need… so make sure that your content always answers their need to achieve a specific outcome.
#5. A Reason to Return
Bad games never get finished. Good games get played through once. Great games get played many, many times over. Sometimes it’s because they’re fiendishly difficult, or because they create a fully realized universe, or a way to engage with friends. Some games tell great stories, while others are simply about blowing off steam. But they always focus on creating a reason to come back.
Customers will seek out your content because they have a specific question or are looking for a particular solution. If you don’t have the right answers, they’ll leave quickly and never come back. But even if you’ve got the right answers, don’t assume you’ve got a friend for life. To win their loyalty, you need to build trust in your ability to deliver a consistently superior experience. That’s as much as about how you deliver information as the content itself. Do you put a human face on your writing? Is the content correctly tagged and segmented? Are the instructions easy to follow? Is there always somewhere to go for questions? If so, you’re giving your customers many reasons to seek you out the next time they need help.
Whatever game you’re playing—ecommerce, lead generation, or branding—Social Link has the in-house expertise and resources to translate your brand story into tangible results. Get in touch and let’s get started!