Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Affinity Content: The Key to Growing Your Community

This article is part of our series on the 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs. Make sure to get your special free bonus at the end of the article.

Due to its potential to generate large amounts of traffic, but result in low conversion rates, bare-bones Attraction content is kind of like saying, “Let’s throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.”
It’s the spaghetti that sticks around that matters. (No, I’m not suggesting your readers are spaghetti. That’s where the analogy breaks down.)
But for those readers who do stick around, Affinity content is the content that keeps them sticking around. It gets them to like you. Even love you.
When you attract ideal visitors to your site, they hopefully click around and find Affinity articles that further endear them to you.
So, what is Affinity content? Here’s a definition:
Affinity content is content that attracts people who have the same values and beliefs as you. This content shares your beliefs, so people with similar beliefs feel like they belong in your community.
Read on to discover the value of Affinity content and how it works with Attraction content and Authority content.

Why you need to create Affinity content

Attraction content gets you attention, and Authority content builds your reputation.
But what distinguishes you from your competition? Why would a prospect choose you over them?
Well, it comes down to basic human psychology — what we call the know, like, and trust factor. It’s true that “liking” and “trusting” are subjective, but a lot of our decision-making is grounded in those fuzzy feelings.
In the end, we’re going to go with the person who makes us feel better. We feel better when we feel as if we share a mutual bond or similar worldview.
A company that has attracted an audience with value-added content — but is buttoned-up and remote — will have trouble competing with a person who produces the same content and who you feel a bond with because they seem to understand the way you view the world.
It’s about putting yourself in their shoes. Walking their paths — relating. That’s how you increase affinity.
But you will actually have to state what you believe in. You will need conviction. About something.

Examples of Affinity content

If you want an example of how this works, study Facebook. Facebook is largely a splintered, contentious, belief-based communication medium. It’s all about people’s beliefs and how they define themselves and find places where they belong, according to their preferences.
For your Affinity content, these shared beliefs can run the gamut. It can be anything from strictly pragmatic to plain silly.
Here are two examples of Affinity content from Copyblogger:
  1. Digital Sharecropping: The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Content Marketing Strategy. In this post, Sonia Simone advises against building audiences on social media sites you don’t own. She then recommends the opposite: Build on your own property. That’s been a Copyblogger belief since day one.
  2. The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words. For many of us, it’s posts like this one that endeared Brian Clark to us. Here was a guy sharing conventional writing advice by dropping a reference to a cult movie, The Princess Bride. By the way, Brian didn’t discover those 27 misused words. He repackaged them with personality and drew in readers who shared a love for the movie.

The risk you take with Affinity content

Here’s the deal:
The price of not standing for something is that you become generic and get ignored.
You have to occasionally speak out for things you believe in.
If you go after everyone, you get no one. And think about this: who really wants to follow someone who doesn’t believe in anything?
I can’t promise you that Affinity content won’t make you some enemies. But for every enemy you make, you’ll attract even more people who will go to war with you.
And keep in mind that Affinity content isn’t always contentious. Sometimes it’s just personal.

Affinity content gets personal

One of my favorite articles on Copyblogger is Brian Clark’s The Snowboard, The Subdural Hematoma, and The Secret of Life.
This is not a tutorial like How to Use the ‘Rule of Three’ to Create Engaging Content. Instead, the snowboard article is a personal story with a moral: live the life you want to live.
It’s a moment when Brian was being completely vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, people see who you are. And they realize you have weaknesses just like them.
That you are normal and approachable.
Another stellar example of Affinity content like Brian’s snowboard article is Jon Morrow’s How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. It’s an inspirational story that endears you to Jon.

Get comfortable in your own skin

To start creating your own Affinity content, answer worldview questions like:
  • Are things ever handed to us? Is luck a part of success? Or is hard work the difference between success and failure?
  • Can anyone succeed? How important is formal education?
  • Do you view the world as one of abundance and opportunity? Or do you see the world as one of scarcity and competition? Or both?
  • Is life a game? A war? An adventure? A cocktail party? A chess match? Meaningless?
  • What truly matters in life? Is taking action pointless? Should we have it all? Or is that selfish?
  • What virtues mean the most to you? Independence? Intelligence? Compassion? Duty?
  • Are you practical or romantic? Are you a lover of literature? A lover of pop culture? Perhaps both? Do you love ideas? Do you love people?
  • How do you view death? Is it something to be feared or embraced? Why?
Answering those questions will take some time. But you may find that hitting publish once you have written an affinity-style article is even more difficult.
We worry what people will think about us after we publish. When our truth is out there.
Here’s what you need to know: share as little or as much as you feel comfortable with.
If you look at Brian’s body of work, you’ll notice he doesn’t get personal very often. However, he’s very open about who he is, what he thinks, and what he likes.
In other words, he’s comfortable in his own skin.
Be who you are in pixels as you are in person. Open up, laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Quick case study: The Year of Falling Apart

I’ll close with a brief story.
Long ago, when I was frequently publishing on my personal website, I became tired of writing about web content. Basically, I needed to blow off some steam because I had exhausted myself after producing a long run of articles about writing. Sharing a good personal story was exactly what I needed.
The problem was, it didn’t fit within the category “web writing.” I was certain to lose readers. It was way beyond the blog’s focus — but I published the personal story anyway and it ended up becoming one of the most popular articles on the site: The Year of Falling Apart.
By giving myself permission to publish Affinity content, I also gave birth to a passel of ideas on web writing. It was a win-win.

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Over to you …

So, content marketer, are you ready to get comfortable in your own skin? Are you ready to share your beliefs? To let people know who you are? Are you ready to create some really good Affinity content?
Let us know in the comments.
Also let us know your favorite piece of Affinity content. It could be here on Copyblogger or on another site. It could even be something you wrote.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


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