Can you wear a tuxedo to a baseball game?

Do you remember seeing your Kindergarten teacher outside the classroom for the first time? It dawned on you that she had a life outside of school, that she went grocery shopping, watched movies, spent time with her own family and was interested in more than just teaching you to count to 100.

The strangeness of seeing a teacher outside the familiar walls of the classroom is an example of how context is everything. Recognizing someone in an unrecognizable context is startling and causes you to reconsider that person through the lens of new information and a changed perspective.

But somehow we forget about the importance of context when we create content. We generate the same familiar ideas we’re comfortable with and that follow predictable patterns and brand guidelines, and then wonder why it fails to generate engagement.

Creating content this way is like picking out an outfit in the dark. Yes, you’re wearing clothes, but they might be completely inappropriate for the event. You have a tuxedo in the closet, but you’re headed to a baseball game. You have to know what the event is to choose the right outfit. Likewise, you cannot create successful content for social media if you don’t pay attention to what people are watching.

To successfully reach audiences, you have to know what they care about, and to know that, you have to study the content they’re consuming. Then you have the information you need to pick the right outfit, and the right context, to make them care about your message.

We have so much public data on human behavior. You can stand on any street corner and see which restaurants people walk into and which ones they pass, and you can easily access social media data to find out what’s going viral right now. And with that information you can clothe your content in the right outfit and deliver your message in a context audiences care about.

Going viral on social media isn’t the ultimate endgame. The real goal is attention, engagement, and monetization. By dressing for the part, you signal to your audience that you have something to offer. When you care about what interests your audience and create content within a context they want, then they’ll start to care about your product or service.

So the advice, “dress for the job you want” applies here. Wrap your brand, your product, your service in the clothing that’s attractive to your audience and you’ll get that interview and earn that opportunity to sell.

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