Does your content marketing pass the Turing Test?

Can a computer convince you that it is actually a human being? That’s the purpose of the Turing Test, first proposed by the Enigma-cracking mathematician Alan Turing in his seminal 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence.

The Turing Test is famous for being the holy grail of Artificial Intelligence research, but it’s also a valuable lesson in marketing communications.

Let’s hotwire it a little and try something on for size: does your content marketing feel like it’s coming from a real, live human being too?

Click bait

What happens if it doesn’t? That’s easy; we’ve all been there. Maybe a headline on a cover or a page caught your eye… but then it turned out to be passionless, poorly written filler that’s as boring as old toast and that was obviously done by someone who just didn’t care.

Maybe you’ve fallen for some native click-bait that turned out to be yet another tired old cliché – replicated pictures, fill-in-the-blanks boilerplate copy, the insultingly obvious masquerading as analysis – is this starting to sound familiar?

Disappointing, wasn’t it? Odds are that you just switched off. You were right to do so, and you will be next time too. A fundamental truth of all communication is that, if you are asking for someone’s attention, you need to deliver on the promise of a headline and hold their attention for as long as you’ve asked for it or better.

Let’s be blunt. Yes, there’s plenty of content out there, but how much of it is actually worth a damn? The modern consumer is used to an environment where alternatives are just a click away, so the pressure is on and you really don’t want people to switch off.

Your content needs to offer something more, something different, something that can’t be found elsewhere – something to meet that absolute fundamental of keeping someone’s attention.

Great content

And there are plenty of ways to achieve that. They will depend on your audience, your channels, the resources you have to hand and so on, but the one thing they all have in common is that you need more than just any old content; you need great content.

What’s the difference? You – and, more to the point, your audience – will definitely know it when you see it. It’s the brilliant. It’s the beautiful. It’s the questions you didn’t think to ask or the answers that you weren’t expecting. It’s going to interesting places, it’s seeing something from a new angle and it’s finding what you never knew was there. It’s what helps you make your mind up, or it’s what helps you change your mind. Maybe it makes you think, maybe it makes you smile, maybe it makes you cry.

What do you think?

You will surely have come across content that you found had that true impact, so let’s try to bring, say, three examples to mind as a thought experiment. It actually turns out to be easier than you’d first think and the reason why that happens is because the content that had a genuine effect created a memory that stays with you. Picked your three? Good. Now, why did those three pieces of content have that effect on you?

Was it because they were gorgeous? Because you found them fascinating? Because they got you by the emotions? All three at once? If so, good for them. But, whatever the answer is, that’s how you know the person who created that content succeeded.

All you need is love…

Ultimately, great content closes the distance between creator and consumer to remind you of that crucial sine qua non of human connection that all communication depends on. For want of a better way of putting it, what your content needs to do is prove that it was made by someone who is putting in time, care and thought. And maybe a little love.

Why? Because that’s what helps it pass the Turing Test.

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