Why opinions help grow audiences
Have you ever done a search to compare two apps to see if someone else will tell you which one to pick?
That's me all the time. So many apps have the same features and do the same things. It's hard to know which is right. Right?
I love a good comparison post and I appreciate it when an author has an opinion they can back up with facts or feelings. What bothers me is the tons of posts with title claiming to settle "once and for all" which app is better.
Most of those posts end in a noncommittal let down.
It's like the authors are taking the safe road by trying not to upset an app maker. But instead they upset their reader and that can't be good practice.
My opinions get me in trouble from time to time when they sneak into my writing. I'm never trying to be mean or hurtful. There's no "authenticity" to being sincere. I hope my opinions help people make up their mind, because sometimes all you want is clear direction.
Here's an example:
I was researching screen recording software. I only had a few requirements. The app has to record my screens and me at the same time. Any other features are a bonus.
The choice was between Camtasia and Screenflow. Of course, I typed “Camtasia vs Screenflow” into Google to see how people compare the two.
The search results show lots of websites whose names I recognize and I click through to three or four of them. I'm looking for comparison charts, feature sets, pricing and why each app will work for someone like me.
The posts say “Let’s settle this once and for all” or claim to be the "definitive guide" to choosing between these two apps. One says it's going to “settle the debate".
"Awesome," I say to myself.
But each post is a dud. Every one of them ends in that whimper. It's so disappointing.
You and I can look up feature lists for any app. An app's website shows what a product can do, how it works, what other tools it integrates with, etc. Comparing features is easy.
When I search “Camtasia vs Screenflow”, I want more than a list of features. I want an opinion about which one is best for me.
And they don’t do it. So many comparison articles end with “it depends” or other indecisive language that makes me regret reading the page. I make a mental note of which site I’m on so I know to avoid it later.
I get that these pages are there to get maximum traffic, but I wonder if that’s the best goal for these sites.
We should all stand for something. Even if it’s a small something.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if these authors took a stand and stated “This is what I believe and here’s why”?
I reckon it would. I believe it would also build a loyal audience who comes back the next time they have a similar question.
Fight the urge to sit on the fence
We need to define who we are and what our brand stands for so we can keep that at the heart of everything we do. This includes how we write and share information online.
There’s more at stake here than web traffic and readership on comparison posts. To me, this is about building a business and a brand that isn’t afraid to have a belief system and stick with it.
I would rather go back to sites that have an opinion because I feel I can trust them. That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them, but it does mean that I respect them.
Stand for something. Even if it’s a small something
Too many businesses and brands spend too much time watching everyone else. This competitor-gazing is taking businesses down a path to bland, same-same nothingness. That’s why comparison posts end with “Luckily, no matter what you choose, you aren’t going to be making a bad choice.” To blend in and not upset anyone.
You can steer your business in another direction and stand out from the beige blob that is the mass market. You can state your opinion and stake your claim to a territory in customers’ minds.
If even one of these comparison pages ended with a “winner” I would be pumped. None of them did. Each post ended by telling me that it’s up to me to decide and that’s not what I wanted to hear, so now I’ll probably never go back. I'm grumpy like that.
Do yourself and your customers a favor and stand for something. Even if it’s telling them you prefer one video editing software over another.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering. I bought Screenflow because it recognizes the Reincubate Camo app on my iPhone. So if you use Camo, get Screenflow. You'll be happy you did.