Autumn is here. The Great Smoky Mountains are slowly transitioning from emerald green to red, orange, and gold. A vibrant palette of hues dot the horizon under a clear blue sky. The cornucopia of colors are washing over the trees creating views that put Instagram filters to shame. Peak week for viewing the fall colors is just around the corner and the inevitable influx of tourists is upon us. Cameras fire away, cars crawl down windy roads, and overlook vistas are packed to capacity. The leaves are changing.
Every year it's the same story. Millions of people leave their homes to visit our region and take in the gorgeous surroundings. But why is the Mountain South the place to visit? What makes this place so special compared to others? The same questions can be asked about content online. What makes one blog post stand out from the others? Why do some videos on YouTube gather hundreds of thousands of views while others barely crack 100? The answer to all of these questions lies in the eye of the viewer. And while we can't solve the riddle of why people prefer one thing over another, we can certainly tackle how to make our content more attractive. So here are three ways to make your online content more beautiful.
The Eye of the Beholder
Beauty is a characteristic or quality of something that provides pleasure or satisfaction to our senses. In order for something to be beautiful, there must be someone to view it as such. While "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" may be a platitude that has been beaten to death, it is still true. In creating images, stories, or videos for consumption online how often do we ask the question, "Is this beautiful to our audience?" Too often in this 15 second pre-roll world we go for shock and awe instead of genuine attraction. The allure of following fickle trends continues to alienate audiences. Crafting wonderful things takes time and effort to fully understand your viewers. Whether you are a Mac or PC, take a few minutes to browse over to Apple.com and read through a few pages. Every photo, line of text, and icon feels as though it has been designed with the target audience in mind. Apple has built its entire business on turning basic, bland technology devices into beautiful things. There is no denying they know their beholders quite well.
Beauty is Unique
If every town in the US had a Smoky Mountain National Forest next to it, there would be no tourists visiting this region every fall. Beauty is rare. One of the reasons most content falls flat is that it reads like, looks like, and feels like everything else that is competing for everyone's attention. When you want to make something beautiful it needs to be different. One of the companies creating unique stories is Best Made Company. This purveyor of camp goods like axes, knives, and tools has created some of the most intriguing content out there. The photo montages from the wilds of Alaska to the "Axe Restoration" workshop blog posts, have a ring of truth and virtue that sets them apart. You will actually want to read this story of a customer who damaged their axe and brings it back in for repair. Imagine if all of our help desk articles read like this one. Creating something beautiful means it has to be different. Ignore your competition and create something unique that your customers will love.
True Beauty Evokes Thought
Finally, truly beautiful content will cause people to stop what they are doing and focus entirely on what you have created. We have all experienced that moment when we watch a video that moves emotion in us. We will re-watch it, share it with friends, and even call over our coworkers to crowd around our monitor. Turn up the volume, all eyes on the screen, and we laugh, cry, or smile in that moment with no other distractions. Most people wouldn't use the words "software" and "beautiful" together in the same sentence. But since 1999 Signal vs Noise has been pumping out blog posts that make people stop and think. 37Signals.com is the business of selling browser based software but they have built up a huge following by offering relevant advice, commentary, and inspiration. It's geeky but that's the target audience and it never fails to make people think.
The long line of cars winding up into the mountains this week will be a constant reminder for me that everyone is searching for beauty. I hope as you write your next blog post, film your next video, or shoot your next batch of product photos, that you will take a moment to ask, "Is this beautiful?" Creating an online scenic overlook is easier if you understand what your beholders want to see, create unique stories, and cause your audience to stop and think.
Come on by and visit this fall. Track the beautiful leaves here.