• Introduction
  • What is Human-Centered Digital Content?
  • Why is Empathy a Major Component?
  • How to Ask the Right Questions
  • Great Examples of Human-Centered Digital Content
  • Conclusion

Human-Centered Content
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Reality check. Humans don’t care about your product or service. They care about their own problems much more than they care about your products. It is time to reverse and think as human-centered content creation.

Because of this centric reality, content is crucial. All types of content: blog content, video content, and social media content.

Content is a means to connect with humans – and help them better understand their own problems and problem-solve with them through quality content to find a solution.

Why is it important to practice human-centered content? The internet has become saturated with loads of content. It is now much harder to rank quality content organically and to attract a sustaining audience.

A process to overcome this hurdle is to hone in on a target audience, define a specific niche and attract only the humans that are relevant to your product or service. According to Janrain, 74% of consumers are frustrated when a website’s content holds no interest for them. Do not make the humans frustrated, instead, give them relevance.

What is Human-Centered Digital Content?

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem-solving […] It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs.” — IDEO

The human-centered theory is usually tied to user-experience and working through design challenges for mobile applications, websites, and services. It does not have to be all about UX – and it can (and should) be formally applied to digital content creation also.

Traditionally, marketers have thought with a solution-first approach. The startup has a solution – and this solution is going to help you. The human-first approach is must more empathetic and deeper. It takes understanding and empathetic knowledge to look at the same level of the audience and to identify core motivations, challenges, concerns, feelings, and struggles in their environment.

Doing this creates human-centered content that approaches individuals with a step-by-step thinking process from problem understanding to the quantitative solution. By thinking first to the solution, a startup misses out on dissecting and pulling apart important and complex customer stories that lead to important buying decisions.

Why is Empathy a Major Component?

Empathy and understanding are at the core of human-centered digital content. In order to stay competitive in the digital world, we need to create marketing content that is intertwined with human understanding.

This begins with empathy.

Empathy is taking the opportunity to understand the audience on their level – can you relate to them? When I work with content students and startups, I always reference the coffee date story.

Two friends met online and soon realize through a few social media posts that they are speaking the same ‘voice.’ They decided to reach out to one another, mentioning how they like each other’s conversation topics. They follow each other’s account – and begin commenting, replying and interacting as cyber friends.

After a few months, one person asks to meet in person – because why not? They already have a lot in common and enjoy the conversation. They meet in person, and the conversation goes deeper and deeper. Deep to the point their sharing real-life stories, feedback, advice and experiences with each other that is specific and tailored to them.

This human and real approach to online interaction must translate over into the content creation process. And this process begins with stepping into an ‘empathetic mindset’ – and being real about knowing the audience and caring about their challenges.

Tony Zambito, a considered marketing expert in this area, explains this as three phases’ marketers and organizations journey through. He calls this framework: Human-Centered Marketing –  H.U.M.

How to Ask the Right Questions

Let’s venture back to the online best friend story. In their first physical meeting, what questions would they ask each other? If they had been discussing how much they love puppies online, would they discuss basketball?

Maybe not. Why? Because these are two entirely different topics, and they are vaguely related to each other. Asking the right questions means asking on-topic questions.

Another obstacle to asking the right question, never ask your audience what they want. It automatically places their thinking into a boxed mindset. It automatically navigates to a solution-first approach mindset, where they have thought of a possible solution to their problem without fully understanding the problem or dissecting it.

We will switch it around – and put this way of questioning into context. I’m working with a copywriter solopreneur. They write b2b content in the technology industry. I want to help them achieve their business goals; more booked clients and higher organic traffic. Here are the questions that I would ask:

  • What are you trying to get done currently in your business? What are your goals?
  • What content workflow do you provide to your website visitors?
  • What is frustrating you about your current content creation process?

Asking the right questions helps find the root of the problem, and the word ‘why’ will be a major player. “What are your goals?” “Why?” “Why?” and “Why?” Human-centered content is deeply rooted in asking the right questions of your audience.

Great Examples of Human-Centered Digital Content

Human-centered content’s core aspect is empathy and human understanding. And human understanding begins with asking the right questions and investigating target audience pain points, challenges, and emotions.

Once you have a clear understanding of these components, content creation becomes more human-centric and begins to help the target audience solve and work through important challenges. You position yourself as a problem-solver providing tangible and quality solutions to your audience.

Human-Centered Content
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Here is a small graphic showing the thought process for topic planning; from audience challenges to content writing topics.

Who is already winning at the human-centered content creation game? There are a few! Here are a few businesses that are ‘killing it’ when it comes to human-centric content marketing content creation.

Basecamp does a fantastic job speaking the language of their target audience. The language is simple, unique and quirky, which is human-centered. Basecamp’s copy and content focus on everyday business project management problems – and builds a conversation around those topics to engage and entertain the online audience.

Workday has also taken the time to understand their ideal audience. They span the entire human-centered scope and target topics of their audience that are not directly related to their product or solution. Instead, they write about topics like “Three Easy Steps to More Impressive Board Reports”, which is a challenge of the target audience and is not solution-based.

Conclusion

Human-centered digital content is the next evolution of strategic content planning and writing. Humans care about their own challenges and emotions. As content managers and writers, we must navigate the complex thoughts of our ideal audience to uncover authentic and useful digital content ideas that benefit the audience.

With the internet becoming more and more saturated with useful content, the human-centered approach will help our quality content stand out from the noise. A Beginner’s Guide to Human-Centered Digital Content provides the beginning building blocks to human-centered content creation process and development.

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