Content Psychology 101: Why we use what we use

by Staff Written

August 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

We’ve all sat in meetings where the questions asked were centered around what should be on our website? What content should be on our app? How do we use Facebook better? Should we be doing a Snapchat campaign? What do you think of our blog? What’s up with WhatsApp? You get the idea.

Point is, content strategy can be confusing even with “experts” at the helm. If you’re knee-deep in it every day, you may want to click away. But if you want a simple way to look at these buckets of opportunity, then keep reading.

Two of my colleagues and I needed to put together a deck on content uses for a conference. We kept looking at every content opportunity clients had and the longer the list became, the more confusing it was. So we asked ourselves some questions. How could everything work together? When should content be duplicated? When shouldn’t it? What about the timing of content deployment? When and what kind of interactions do we want to see occur? What about real-time content — where does that fit in? When I was looking through my notes, I think we had almost as many questions as we had content opportunities listed.

Ultimately, we needed to organize it in a simple way. For the answers to our questions we took a cue from our college psych classes. We recognize that each interaction with a social network, app or website was based on a basic behavioral need a person was satisfying. All we needed to do was align each piece of content with that behavior and place it in the right digital bucket coinciding with their need. I promise you, it’s not that hard to do. Basically, it works like this:

  1. List out the places where your audiences connect (assuming you have a solid understanding of your audiences to start)
  2. Write down the need your audience is fulfilling in that place
  3. List out your content opportunities that are in line with the main psychological need being fulfilled

Here’s a partial list to get you started:

Websites = Exploration

We use websites to delve deep into the subject we are interested in. This is a place where you can provide your audience with details and allow them to go down the rabbit hole as far as they’d like.

Apps = Action

Apps are a bit more utilitarian. We use an app for a specific purpose, and the action we are taking is to fulfill a moment-in-time need.

Blogs = Opinion

This is a brand’s opportunity to show thought leadership and engage audiences in a conversation.

Email = Information

Email is for the hand raisers. The recipients are asking you to provide them relevant content periodically.

Facebook = Connection

Think of Facebook as a community of audiences with shared interests.

Pinterest = Inspiration

It’s all about what the user wants. Where they would like to vacation. How they would decorate a room. Collect the things that they are really interested in.

Instagram = Lifestyle

Some may think this is just like Facebook, but it’s not. Instagram is more focused. Users share and absorb content around specific areas of interest. It’s not their whole life.

YouTube = Entertainment/Education

I could start and stop with cat videos. But YouTube has become the place we go to catch the clip we missed on Jimmy Fallon. Or when we need to learn how to create an erupting volcano for our kid’s science project.

So, there you have it. There are dozens of other channels out there. Niche social media communities, messaging services and that thing Mark Zuckerberg is coding that hasn’t been released yet. And keep this in mind; you don’t have to be everywhere all at once. It’s better to do a few things really well instead of everything poorly. Hopefully, this post will give you a starting point; but remember, there is no finish line here. Audiences shift quickly to new communication models and you have to be ready to analyze why or why not to use each of them.

This blog was written by Roger Hurni and originally posted to Medium on March 21.

August 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Staff Written