It was 8:30 PM.
It was Tuesday night and I had just walked into the arctic vortex of my local grocery store. Eyes drooping, wrists aching, stomach rumbling. I needed sustenance, and I needed it fast.
Like I always do when I’m in need of a little recipe inspiration, I turned to Pinterest, which directed me to the Blogger That Shall Not Be Named (a fictional persona I've created to illustrate my point). And while this blogger showed near perfection in their food styling and photography, I found myself scrolling through no less than eight SAT-essay length paragraphs that rambled on…and on…and on. Updates about their kids. Updates about potty training habits. Updates about new carpet installations. Updates about the world’s comfiest wedges for walking around Disney World.
Excuse me, but didn’t I come here for a fish recipe?
I didn’t appreciate the endless scroll in a place where I simply wanted an ingredients list, recipe, and estimated time to prepare. Instead, I got an out-of-place story that wasted my time and left me frustrated, vowing to never return to the Blogger That Shall Not Be Named for inspiration again.
When your content is inconsiderate, you might as well just be having a conversation with your customers, clients, or audience with a wad full of Big League Chew churning around in your mouth for all to see. Yes — it’s that rude.
What is considerate content?
Considerate content is mindful content. It’s tuned into audiences’ time, resources, mood and energy, giving thought to the context for which said audience might be interacting with the content.
Content should offer a rich takeaway that thanks audiences for the investment in time they’ve given to you. After all, they’ve spent time with your content; shouldn’t you thank them by helping them do something useful with it?
Considerate content is there when you want it, not when it wants to take advantage of you.
Content that’s mindful of context always asks, “How can I help someone today, and how can I build my content around it?” It helps us get in, get what we need, and get out. It's organized. It's friendly. It gets to the point and plays well with the overall user experience.
With a clear understanding of audiences’ time, context, and motivation to share, we can create content that offers something of very tangible use. And when we do that, everyone feels considered.
What is inconsiderate content?
It’s important to define “inconsiderate content” here, to illustrate how the pendulum swings both ways. Inconsiderate content is out for the kill. It exists to make the sale, or worse, to send you down a shameless funnel of sales-y, self-promotional drivel that makes you feel like a worthless cog in its machine. Inconsiderate content also tends to hijack audiences’ time, attention, and emotional responses for its own ravenous appetite, leaving you with little meaning to extract, and little to do with it once you've finished absorbing it.
Inconsiderate content is ignorant to the way content and user experiences work in tandem.
Forcing potential customers fight with their browsers so that you can control the user experience you think is “right” is one of the most deadly sins of content creation. Developing a website that favors one browser or device over another might as well just be a slap in the face. Infinite scrolling content, vertically stretched infographics that force readers to awkwardly pinch, zoom, and squint, and tricky parallax are ingredients for frustration that don’t do your content justice or pay respect to your audience — who more than likely want to pay you.
Inconsiderate content makes it hard for people to access the content that they originally came for.
Pop-ups that stuff newsletters down throats for the sake of it — without offering a very clear benefit — are also a prime example of inconsiderate content. Now more than ever, we’re seeing the rise of gimmicky tricks that exist to force your attention on said pop-ups, through swinging sign-up boxes, timed pop-ups, or triggered pop-ups that rear their ugly heads after you reach a certain line break in the content.
Now that you know the difference, how can you begin producing content that's mindful of context?
1. Help your audience digest dense information quickly.
One of the best ways to help people sift through large batches of content is by using newsletter digests to summarize key takeaways. If you’ve posted a full month’s worth of content, create a “Month in Review” roundup of most popular blog posts, most loved Instagram posts, or new product offerings. A branded digest helps people interact with you where and when they want to, while respecting their time and inviting them in on their own terms. You’ll also have the added benefit of developing your own email marketing strategy, which can be useful when it comes to helping potential customers click “buy” in the future.
Podcasts are one of the best mediums for conversational content. However, since tend to run in excess of 30+ minutes and require audio-only interaction, it can be tricky to ask listeners to invest their time with you on the regular. For those listeners that don’t have headphones on them, don’t have the time to invest in a full episode, or simply can't listen due to accessibility, offering show notes is a way to give people a recap AND connect yourself to the thought leaders, influencers, companies and products you mentioned in your episode. (You'll also get a bit of an SEO boost, too!)
Our friends Emily and Kathleen of Being Boss Podcast have done a stellar job of corralling content for each episode's show notes. They include key pieces of helpful content, like major announcements, topics discussed, click-to-tweet quotes, further resources, and promotions for their own products that plug into what their prospective customers want and need. (P.S. You can hear Lexicontent's cameo's on Episode 18, Episode 21, with special guest Tara Gentile, and Episode 22, with special guest Talia Chai!)
2. Navigate your audience to the next step.
Once your audience reaches the end of a long post, give then a thread to pull. Where do you want them to go next? Is there related content on the same topic? Should they take a specific action?
If you’ve just written a detailed how-to post, offer a simple 3-step checklist of action items that readers can incorporate into their day. If they’ve just finished watching a juicy product launch video, direct them to an FAQ section where nitty-gritty questions can be answered. Or, once they reach the end of an infographic, offer up some further research or sources.
Either way, considerate content is content that exists to be of service, like an usher in a crowded theater. Instead of leaving audiences high and dry without a clear direction, the chances of them dropping off the radar (never to return again) are sky high. Walking them to the next step ensures that they don’t get lost, and that your content gets found.
3. Create shortcuts that save time or make informed decisions.
Another way to produce considerate content is to create an easy at-a-glance reference that saves time or makes decisions easier. Product review blog Wirecutter, for instance, helps its audience make shortcuts to informed decisions about products that’ve been tested by and approved by its reviewers.
Freebie Supply is another great directory-style site that helps its visitors find free, useful tools with clear directions on where to get them. This content knows exactly what its audiences are coming for and what they’re looking for — and it delivers — without holding visitors hostage before getting to the good stuff.
Let’s start creating content that’s considerate.