Have you ever come across the expression: “content is king”?
Of course you have – most of us have seen this a lot in the last few years (because it’s true) and that probably won’t change any time soon. But writing an 800-word article on a topic of your interest isn’t enough to engage your members these days. Content may be king (or queen, or fearless overlord – whichever moniker you prefer), but your topic, and how it’s presented, must interest your audience.
The problem is your audience has been spoiled by big brands. Big brands have money, and money buys flashy, interesting content for marketing campaigns, online communities, events, you name it. Just watch a Super Bowl ad.
With expectations set by big brands, your audience now expects your content to be good and:
If you’re not giving them at least one of these things, or better yet two or three, they won’t engage and share your content.
To get people to participate and consume your content via your website, online community, or email, you need to create something that provides information and entertains. You need infotainment.
What Is Infotainment?
Infotainment, as applied to content, is the art of creating valuable material that is interesting, informative, and entertaining.
You need to make your members, customers, and prospect smile, laugh, or think while they consume your content. Keep most content helpful and informative, but present it in entertaining ways. Not only will your audience appreciate it, they’ll be more likely to get through the entirety of your content and remember the information if they’re entertained.
To master infotainment, you must combine top-notch info with things your audience will enjoy. Here are five tips to help you start.
5 Tips for Creating Infotainment Content
1. Be Funny
No one expects a one-man comedy tour from your organization, but people enjoy humor. It lightens their mood and helps strengthen your relationship with your audience. If you can show off your personality at the same time, that’s a bonus. People enjoy seeing the human side of the groups they join.
For instance, last holiday season my local chamber of commerce sent its members a video message about the exciting things planned for the upcoming year. At the end of the video, there were outtakes. It was hysterical, which earned it massive shares. The video combined important information with humor, which is the essence of infotainment. Can you do something similar?
Funny Infotainment: Wendy’s Twitter – hilarious and informative.
2. Design for the Scanners
How many articles do you read in their entirety? Let’s all be honest with ourselves: very few. Instead, we skim headlines and pull quotes to find the most important information in the least amount of time. Creating infotainment should help you cut down on the skimmers in your audience, but people will still scan your content, so you need to accommodate.
Use headings, subheads, bulleted lists, pull quotes, and bold text to make it easy for readers to find the most important information in your content. Make sure the entire layout is clean and attractive on any device. Readers won’t invest time in a 1,500-word article or email if it’s crowded and doesn’t have any white space. It’s too much work, especially if they’re viewing it on a phone.
Scanner Infotainment: Community.Is newsletter – brief, entertaining, and helpful updates and links.
3. Don’t Skimp on the Research
Humor and design aren’t the only elements you need to worry about. You also need to master the “info” part of infotainment. Luckily for content producers, there’s a very rich source of information at our fingertips – the internet.
Research every article you write, checking pieces against one another from two to three sources to make sure you’re providing credible material. There are a lot of fake stats out there, as well as fake news articles, so if you write an article based on just one source, you’re likely to get into trouble at some point. You want your members to see you as a trusted source of information, not a dicey organization.
4. Cite Your Sources
All the research you do should be attributed, unless it is common knowledge. For instance, if you’re referencing when the first president of your organization was born, you needn’t worry about giving attribution to that. However, if there’s a stat about your industry, you should cite its author or compiler. The only exception for this is your original research and benchmarking studies, where you should explain your methodology instead.
Whenever possible, also link to the source of your information. Do this for two reasons:
1. Everyone likes to receive links back to their site. WordPress, Google, or a linking analysis tool will find your link and the original content producer may even give you a link back. That’s good for SEO.
2. It lends credibility and provides additional resources to your audience.
Expert Tip: When linking to an external source on your blog or website, set the link to open in a different window. You don’t want to give someone a reason to leave your site.
5. Create a Swipe File
Research can be time-consuming, which is why it’s a good idea to keep a swipe file for topics that might interest your audience and industry. Use something like Evernote, DropBox, or Google Keep to hold onto articles, stats, or interesting tidbits. That way when you need to create a nice meaty piece, you won’t waste time trying to find half-remembered stats and their sources.
Do this for other types of material as well, including infographics, images, and GIFs. You won’t be nearly as successful in creating infotainment if all your content is written.
That brings us to our next and final major point for the evening – the importance of visuals.
Content Marketing Is Now Visual Marketing
Content marketing and infotainment has skewed toward written material for years. Now it’s making an about-face and moving into the visual. Images and words aren’t an either/or choice today. To appeal to your audience, you need to use them together.
Learn how to create memes. Go live on Facebook and upload videos to your online community. Make sure your blog posts have pictures, GIFs, or infographics in them. Use image titles or banners to introduce articles. Wherever you can, employ visual stimulation deliberately to get your members’ attention and draw them into your new infotainment content.
If you’re interested in learning just how important visuals are in marketing and infotainment, check out these 42 visual marketing statistics.
Use Infotainment Appropriately Based on Topic and Audience Needs
The beauty of infotainment is its balance. It combines helpful, valuable information with entertainment in the form of humor or visual content to keep customers and members interested. You should find your own balance that fits your branding. If your organization has a playful tone, you can have a little more fun. If it’s more serious, use humor in tasteful amounts to entertain your audience without alienating them.
Remember to always evaluate how and when you use infotainment as well. Some issues may be sensitive or serious enough to your member that you need to approach them with some gravity. In general, however, infotainment will help get people’s attention and ensure they enjoy interacting with your content.
Content Manager & Strategist, Epic Notion
Julie is a Content Manager & Strategist at Epic Notion. In her past life, she worked her way through Europe and Asia as a freelance writer, editor and English teacher for local and international businesses.
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