Why content moments are the key to understanding content marketing

by Ben Heiser, 28 Feb 2018

If there’s one thing your job is good for it’s changing the way you think. Like when you accidentally text your friend to “action” brunch plans, or request that your roommate or SO clean the kitchen by EOD. It’s embarrassing when your work brain kicks into autopilot, but that phenomenon is indicative of just how much your job affects how you see the world. I think it’s the key reason why so many people have problems creating great content and understanding content marketing in general. It’s because they’re not thinking like themselves. Which is funny, because all of us, even the most tightly wound, spreadsheet-loving data analysts, are experts at consuming content. We do it constantly. You’re doing it right now, and if I can’t drum up enough intrigue to earn your attention, you’re going to be doing it on another site very soon.

When people consume content, they have very specific needs in mind that they’re trying to satiate. What’s more, they’re in complete control of their experience. Armed with back buttons, windows, mute buttons and tabs, the average internet user has all the tools necessary to avoid any pesky interruption that gets in the way of what they want. Cough, cough interstitials. And here’s the thing: attention spans are getting shorter. Heavy multi-screen users have an average attention span of just 8 seconds. Which means if you’re not considering the needs and expectations of your audience, you’re not going to be able to consistently create engaging, effective content.

The problem is that our work-brain makes it difficult to put the needs of the audience first. So how do you shift your perspective?


Content Moments

Content moments categorize the mindsets and expectations we experience when we engage with content. They make it clear what your audience is looking for, how they want that information packaged. They should be a part of your strategic process, and you should consult them any time you’re thinking about creating a piece of content.


The Six Content Moments—the key to creating incredibly effective content


1. Inspiration

Motivation: At it’s core, inspiration is about finding ideas. Something new that sparks your imagination and gets you excited. Whether that’s hunting for a weeknight recipe, Pinteresting your way to a remodeled bathroom, or looking for a new way to do your hair—you’re browsing page after page looking to find the right content that speaks to you.


How to think about Inspiration: Inspirational content should be just that—inspirational. It should be highly visual, actionable, and helpful. If your audience is in this content moment, they could be looking for a variety of types of content — from image galleries to fully blown out, step-by-step articles — so be sure what you create doesn’t leave them hanging.


2. Education

Motivation: Similar to inspiration, education is about finding pieces of new knowledge, but in this instance, it’s intrinsically motivated by a desire for self-betterment. Education can take the form of a hobby, like learning how to change a carburetor on a muscle car project, or have more economical roots, like learning how to be a day trader.


How to think about Education: The most important characteristic of valuable educational content is that it’s actionable. Your audience is coming to you to learn, which means you have to be a good teacher. That being said, this content moment is often best served by longer form articles or videos that get into the nuts and bolts of a subject. Walkthrough’s and how-to’s are especially effective here because they arm your audience with the confidence to take action.


3. Tune in

Motivation: News and updates are the realm of Tune In. Thus, timeliness is key. Your audience is looking for information about what’s happening, now. That could be general news stories, or topics that are relevant on an individual basis, like checking updates for your fantasy football team. Whatever the reason is, they want relevant information that gets them up to speed.


How to think about Tune In: Timing is key. If your audience is looking to tune in they need information that’s relevant now. Most often, this comes in the form of newsjacking but Tune In doesn’t always mean finding shaky ways to attach your brand to a high profile news story. Stay in the fields where your brand is relevant. If you’re a manufacturer of solar panels, have an opinion of the environmental policies that are being voted on in Washington.


4. Take a break

Motivation: Sometimes your audience is just looking for a break—a puppy video or reaction gif that helps them feel better. When your audience is looking to take a break, they’re seeking a moment of relaxation, and potentially for something to lift their mood. Unlike the previous content purposes, your audience is probably aimlessly scrolling through their social media feed, looking for something easy.


How to think about Take A Break: Your audience isn’t looking to invest much, so don’t put too much on their plate. Focus on content that is topical, positive and light. Take a Break content is primarily suited for awareness purposes because your audience isn’t primed to deviate course and take action. The objective for take a break content should be to create a positive engagement that’s fully completed.


5. Find an answer

Motivation: Dust off your SEO chops because your audience is now in research mode. They’re looking for specific answers to specific questions, the more specific and direct, the better. This could be questions on product features, to reviews and comparisons, to troubleshooting and support.


How to think about Find and Answer: There are two general reasons why your audience is looking to find an answer: scouting and vetting. Scouting are those times where an individual is just starting their search to find a solution—they’ve identified a need and are scouting for solutions and sources of information. Scouting provides a great opportunity for brands to insert themselves early in the customer journey with valuable information. Vetting is where your audience has identified a group of potential solutions to their problem and they’re looking for guides, reviews and supporting information to help them come to a decision.


6. Connect to a community

Motivation: The internet is awash with communities and your audience belongs to one or many of them. They’re looking to feel connected to these communities and find content that speaks to these niche interests. Community content often shares similar motivations from take a break, education, and inspiration except that it’s often subjected to the accepted format and vernacular of the community.


How to think about this content moment: This content can be hard to create because it must use the inside jokes and language of the community. At its simplest this can look like memes but it can also be community guides, videos and rankings that attach to the interests of the community. Community content is often highly shared due to the audience’s personal interest in the subject matter.


These six are it?

Though they seem few, these content moments are based on research done by AOL and other media brands on tens of thousands of individual moments of engagement. Through our experience at DRUM, we’ve found these six moments encapsulate the vast majority of the reasons why people engage with content and will help your efforts be more focused and effective.


How To Use Content Moments For Maximum Effect

Content moments should be top of mind whenever you sit down to create a piece of content. Better yet, incorporate them into your overarching content strategy and marry topics and the steps on the customer journey to specific content moments. Think about your brand voice, your product and what content moments seem best suited to address the needs of your audience.


Need more direction? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about the content you would find valuable. Do a few google searches. Once you have an idea of the content moment that works best, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the topics that are currently resonating, and get to work.


The core of content marketing is creating something valuable to your audience. These moments are how you do that.