In our last blog, we discussed the value of creating written web content that maintains the integrity of your brand and message by providing real value to the reader – and how to achieve this. However, there are aspects of content integrity that go further than simply being honest and valuable. In the increasingly conscious society of the present day, it’s important to consider the lateral impacts that your content could have on readers.
Maintaining real integrity across your digital marketing means asking yourself the questions that may not always be easy or comfortable. What message does this blog post give out to the world? How could it affect readers from different backgrounds? Are there any implicit biases in the language you use,
To ensure your content is keeping up with the expectations of the 21st-century user – and the requirements of the fast-progressing web world – it is essential to take these aspects into consideration. This will help you provide your audience with as much value as possible – and show that you care about every client’s experience of your website.
The Internet is a brilliant resource allowing people to access information and services they might not otherwise be able to reach. However, accessibility is a key consideration in content marketing. As Content Science explains, “many countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Brazil, require that you provide access to content for users who have audio, visual, and motor skills disabilities.” For SEO consultants, this means ensuring that every image has a descriptive alt text so that those with visual impairments can use screen readers to decipher what an image represents. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Accessibility Standards is a useful resource in finding out how to achieve this in your digital presence.
One element that has become increasingly expected is the inclusion of content notifications and trigger warnings. These are a short tag at the top of articles that allow people to find out which topics are covered in the page before they engage. Trigger warnings are primarily used to denote potentially-distressing topics to help users avoid content that may distress them. Adding just a few words (for example, “CN: violence”) can make a huge difference to many readers, and will show that you care about your customers. Find out more about how to write these here.
Once upon a time, we were in the age of ‘diversity’, where advertisements would be awash with a sea of white faces, briefly featuring a person of colour to fill quotas or make their brand ‘look good’. Today, representation is key – a more dedicated attempt to represent people of all races, genders, ages and abilities in media. This is fundamental in ensuring your content maintains ethical integrity.
You might wonder how this is possible within your business’ content. Well, here it’s all about who can see themselves reflected in our message.
Imagery is a prime example. Unfortunately, a lot of the stock imagery used across the web does not adequately represent diverse customer bases – but this doesn’t have to be the case. Pause to consider; does that free stock photo you’ve chosen represent certain groups in a stigmatizing light – or overlook their presence altogether? Instead of choosing the first photo you find, make an effort to look for images that show people from different demographics in an empowering light. This shouldn’t be a case of tokenism, it should simply reflect the world we live in.
Now, if you’re reading this article, it’s unlikely that you currently market your business using the kind of messages you’d see in the ’50s. Nevertheless, in your writing, it is important to make sure you don’t use outdated stereotypes. Readers tired of this approach long ago. It might be worth roping in a couple of ‘sensitivity readers’ to proof your content, or consulting a writer who has experience in writing for target audiences without alienating groups who might not fit the typical mould.
This form of online reputation management involves really taking into consideration the messages that you are putting out, and how they will be received by your audience – and it is vital for any company wishing to stay relevant and respected in the present day.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in brands leveraging current affairs to add a sense of moral purpose to their marketing image. This can go one of two ways. If you reference an issue that is relevant to your brand in a sensitive and appropriate manner, this can be a means of showing customers what you stand for as a business.
However, if used as a purely performative gesture, using topical issues as a draw can come across as disrespectful. The controversial “Live for Now! Pepsi advert of 2017 shows us all we need to know about the importance of considering nuance when raising awareness of wider issues in your marketing content.
Capitalising on current affairs without any underlying commitment to the issue at hand is generally considered to be bad practice. If you are referencing a social or political issue in your marketing to tap into your customers’ cultural psyche, ask yourself – are you doing anything as a business to act on that issue? If not, why?
These aspects of integrity are admittedly more complex to navigate than others, but they are important to bear in mind when planning your digital marketing strategy.
If this article series demonstrates anything, it is that there is no simple formula to ensure your content has integrity. This isn’t about a quick fix, it requires time, plus an understanding of and dedication to your customers’ best interest. Luckily, any good content marketer will have honed this skill over time, and be able to intuitively invest your content with integrity throughout your web presence.
To find out more about content marketing with Roots Creative, feel free to contact us today on 01237 479 233.