In the fast-paced arena of content creation that is fueled by technology innovation and social media trends, it’s not a bad idea to step back occasionally to review some basic foundations of your approaches and re-calibrate as necessary. Are you giving your clients and social media followers content that appeals to their specific mode of processing and retaining information? And, are you utilizing your employees’ main strengths?
Howard Gardner is a Harvard professor of Psychology well-known for his work begun 35 years back on multiple intelligences, the theory that different individuals have particular intellectual strengths in areas that vary widely. His work has spurred other avenues of research along these lines – Learning Styles is a more recent iteration that plumbs the same depths. Gardner named seven original intelligences and those have expanded over the years of continued research, but they include verbal, aural, visual, kinesthetic, mathematical, natural, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
How does all this relate to content development? Simply that if you are too heavy in one particular area or another – consistently and constantly – you may be missing out on large swaths of potential clients.
The verbal intelligence is clearly word-driven (and, along with mathematical intelligence, the one that has been focused on and some would say catered to by our society in every fashion). This is not to downplay its relevance. Verbal learners can access many modes of discourse including blogs, articles (including and sometimes especially) long ones, podcasts, interviews, case studies, white papers, and email correspondence.
The mathematical or logical intelligence naturally lends itself to system-thinking, data analysis, deductive and inductive reasoning. Infusing content with charts and diagrams, checklists, in-depth tech-based information, and case studies that analyze processes are all positive sources for this group.
Aural Or Audio Intelligence
Aural or audio intelligence obviously nods to the auditory learners – musical intelligence lands here as well as spoken word to some degree, and an array of sound-related content. Podcasts, webinars, online presentations, and video supported with strong soundtracks are all examples of information these learners absorb well. Think creative ways to utilize Spotify or YouTube, also.
Visual Or Spatial Intelligence
Visual or spatial learners clearly have a penchant for images to enhance their information intake. Everything from how-to, whiteboard, and explainer videos to diagrams and flowcharts, animation/gifs, Instagram, and infographics work well for this intelligence.
Kinesthetic or hands-on learners have often been given short shrift over many years. Simply speaking, it’s probably a matter of logistics that limits people’s vision in how to cater to the large segment of the population whose dominant strength lies in kinesthetic learning. But anytime these folks can be exposed to things such as interactive apps or tools, touchscreens, game-based activities, reveal-based marketing, podcasts they can create or listen to while moving, face-to-face meetings with wall boards/white boards/get-up-and-move-around-the-board-room, are all helpful to these learners.
Social learners may be the greatest beneficiary of modern tech – indicated by the term ‘social’ media! This intelligence gravitates toward group-related content. Meetups, events, conferences, Google Hangouts, interactive webinars, and of course FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter play into the strengths of this group.
Intrapersonal intelligence acknowledges those who seem to thrive in solitary learning or solution-creating activities. They do well in a DIY environment or with manuals, e-books, some online training courses, problem-solving with dedicated time and minimal interruption. They are often but not always introverts by nature. Indeed, there are very strong intrapersonal learners who also can excel in social situations.
Natural environment intelligence is one that Gardner identified after some of the others, but it is an intelligence that we see more and more evidence of in the modern world (and not a moment too soon!) Think of those who have a strong predilection for working in nature, with animals, have an extraordinary green thumb, or process through a lens that focuses strongly on how the earth impacts us and we impact it. Or to take it a step further, those who don’t see a division between nature and humankind (as so many of us sadly have been subtly trained to do) but only a connection. Content with nature analogies or comparisons, environmental data, and visuals or audio based in the natural world are all good approaches for this group.
Remember, nobody has just one intelligence. We tend to peg people (and a lot in the marketing industry) as the tech person, the graphics person, the word person, etc. By doing this you risk leaving a lot of untapped potential on the office floor. Surveying staff may help you discover these secondary strengths. And simply asking your clients or potential clients what methods they prefer for their information-access can impress them and validate them.
Aim for a balance by injecting different approaches within your content, be it a stand-alone piece or by hitting various intelligences throughout the course of an extended campaign. It’s not that you have to go down a checklist of each intelligence and try to force feed representation in every single piece of content you create, but in general terms, simply be conscious of appealing to various learning styles. Need help to determine the ‘intelligent’ approach to content creation? Connect with us today.