Winning the Internet: A Primer on How-to Contents

Winning the Internet A Primer on How-to Contents

27 years after the first web browser was released to the public in 1991, debates on whether the Internet does more harm than good still rages on across all corners of the internet. The Cambridge Analytica scandal that is currently engulfing Facebook, quite possibly the biggest name in the digital world that isn’t Google, and the United States administration seems to shine a spotlight to proponents of that argument. Adding fuel to the fire, the more relatable case of the recent release of the mobile version of the popular online game Fortnite taking over students’ attention has brought the argument much closer to the homefront, with schools sometime taking drastic measures to confiscate students’ mobile phones. As with every debate though, there are always two sides of the argument and Google’s year-end report on Youtube highlights on why that video platform is so much more than just Logan Paul and cat videos. Spoiler alert, YouTube is also a valuable learning tool.

The report says that “how-to videos earn the most attention of any content category on YouTube, even more than music clips or gaming”. So yeah, before you go on a tirade on how millenials are wasting their youth on watching absurd sketch comedies on YouTube instead of reading Anne Frank’s diary, keep in mind that they might be spending their time learning how to fix that classic Monaro GTS sitting in your barn. Anyway, this also tells us that if you’re looking to increase the audience for whatever it is you do, it might be prudent to engage them with how-to contents of your own.

One of the tactics SEO specialists offering SEO services would tell you to increase organic traffic, whether it’s for your website or YouTube channel, is to offer quality content. Of course, quality here is relative, as it highly depends on your intended audience and sometimes, contents that are considered good aren’t necessarily the ones your audience is looking for, but given how almost everyone have and will encounter some problems in their life, dabbing in how-to contents are as close as you can get to a surefire bet in the crowded world of digital marketing. Now, there is no definitive step process you could take in making quality how-to contents but there are definitely some general pointers to get you started, so without further ado, these are some of my how-tos in making how-to contents.

  • Know Your Subject

Pretty much a given but the sheer importance of this part means that it still bears mentioning. How-to contents establish your authority in your field so making sure that you possess the necessary knowledge and expertise and knowing how to express it to your audience is pertinent. Trust is the world’s strongest currency and this is the first step in building that.

  • Be Specific

Don’t be like IKEA. Simple, universal design like their instruction manuals might work for mass, ready-to-assemble furniture but if you’re looking to establish trust with your audience, make sure to provide detailed steps in your article and/or video.

  • Be Concise

Sounds contradictory to the point above but keep in mind the attention span of your audience. You don’t want to intimidate people by presenting them with something that makes them feel as if they’re being told to read War & Peace. It’s a balancing act and one that would surely come with repetition.

  • Be Relatable

Used as a way to build intimacy. Remember, you’re writing for people and bland robotic statements are a big no-no, even Alexa and Siri knows how to make jokes. Personal anecdotes and popular references are my go-tos when it comes to this.

  • Do a Trial Run

The litmus test for what you just wrote or shot. Either get someone else to do it or try to do it yourself if it’s the only available option. If the results aren’t as intended or the step they’re taking isn’t consistent with what you had in mind, then there are changes waiting to be made. A good how-to should work for everyone, or at the very least, the majority of your audience.

Now as I’ve said before, this wasn’t intended to be an example of a how-to article but the hope is that this could at least provide you with a solid base in making how-to contents of your own. Blatant marketing and in-your-face sales pitch aren’t always welcomed but displaying your expertise and providing your audience with the added value of an actual education, no matter how small, could go a long way in establishing a relationship with your audience, not to mention the traffic it could generate as more and more people pop how-to queries each day.