Why Basic Knowledge Matters More Than You Think

Why Basic Knowledge Matters More Than You Think

Have you ever found yourself, despite your industry knowledge, struggling to come up with content that resonates with your audience? 

It's a common dilemma often stemming from what psychologists call the "curse of knowledge." 

As experts in our respective fields, we sometimes assume that our audience possesses the same depth of understanding as we do. Consequently, we think we need to create complex, intricate content that, while impressive, may be challenging for the average person to comprehend.

In this Sell with Social article, we will explore why sharing basic knowledge with your audience can be one of the most powerful and valuable content strategies you can employ. 

The Curse of Knowledge

As an expert in your field, you have significant knowledge of your products, services, and industry as a whole. This leads to a bias that psychologists call “the curse of knowledge.”

This bias leads us to believe that since we know all of this information, our audience does as well. Consequently, we have a hard time imagining what it’s like for somebody to be a beginner or novice in our field.

So when creating content, whether for social media, blog posts, presentations, etc., it’s easy to fall into the trap of overcomplicating your message. We think we need to teach and talk about the more advanced portions of our industry or products. 

When in reality, most of your audience has significantly less knowledge than you do. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll quickly alienate your audience by publishing complex and inaccessible material. 

As part of understanding the Curse of Knowledge, we must flex our empathy muscles and try to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes. As hard as it is, you need to resist the urge to deliver “profound” knowledge and keep the content you deliver simple. 

Start with Foundational Knowledge

Keep in mind that your audience needs to learn the basics. In order for them to understand the problem they face and how you can help solve that problem, they need to have that fundamental knowledge.

Everything we’ve learned in life follows a path-dependent approach. We start with the fundamentals, and then move on to more complex understanding.

For example, here is how most of us learned math:

  • You learned how to count.
  • You learned how to do addition and subtraction.
  • You learned how to do multiplication and division.
  • You learned basic algebra.
  • You learned basic geometry.
  • And on and on. 

Imagine if you tried teaching advanced algebra to somebody who is still learning basic multiplication…

It’s laughable to think about, but that’s how many people treat their content strategy. As experts themselves, they feel compelled to highlight their advanced knowledge to the world. 

But to be effective, you need to go back to the basics.

We need to teach our audience the fundamentals of our industry. We need to share essential knowledge that makes our content more accessible to a broader audience, including newcomers and novices.

Your goal should be to be that favorite teacher

The one that demystifies topics, empowers students, and makes learning fun. 

Instead of making simple topics complex, like many “experts” often do, you should be making complex topics simple. 

Example - Teaching Cybersecurity

I recently had some drinks with my friend, who does sales and account management for cybersecurity insurance products. Through our discussion, the topic of social media content came up.

He expressed that he wasn’t sure what to post, and more specifically, that he did not want to create too much content explicitly talking about their cyber insurance products (as individual policies can vary).

I reminded him that most of his audience, small-to-medium-sized businesses, are actively looking for tips and training to understand the basics of cybersecurity. And while there certainly is room to educate people on the cyber insurance products themselves, the best social content would likely be simpler education.

For example:

  • Best Practices for Creating Strong Passwords
  • An Introduction to Ransomware
  • 10 Ways to Spot Phishing Emails

While my friend is not a cybersecurity technician himself (although his brokerage employs them as a service to their clients), he is far more knowledgeable on the topic than many of his prospective customers.

Suppose he were to jump right in and start detailing advanced strategies for disaster recovery plan (DRP) architecture. In that case, he’d likely be doing a major disservice to the majority of his audience. Eyes would glaze over, and content would be ignored.  

Not only would most people not understand these advanced topics, but it could discourage them from learning about cybersecurity in general, which could be a costly mistake! 

10 Ways to Keep Your Content Simple

So here is your reminder to go back to the basics with your content.

Use your expertise to make complex topics simple for your audience. Become that favorite teacher and trusted advisor through your content. 

Here are ten tips to make your content more accessible for beginners:

  1. Start with the Basics: Begin by providing a clear and concise introduction that outlines the fundamental concepts and sets the stage for what will be covered. Treat your content as a 101 course for your industry. 
  2. Use Simple Language: Avoid jargon and technical terms whenever possible. If you need to use such terms, explain them in simple language. 
  3. Break It Down: Divide complex ideas into smaller, manageable sections or steps. This helps beginners digest information more easily.
  4. Visual Aids: Incorporate visual aids like diagrams, charts, and images to illustrate key points. Visuals can often convey information more effectively than text alone.
  5. Analogies and Metaphors: Compare complex concepts to everyday experiences or objects that your audience is likely familiar with. Analogies and metaphors can make abstract ideas more relatable.
  6. Examples and Real-World Scenarios: Provide practical examples and real-world scenarios to demonstrate how the information applies in everyday situations. This helps learners relate to the content.
  7. Encourage Q&A: Encourage questions and feedback from your audience. Address common questions and concerns to clarify any confusion. If one person asks its, many more are probably thinking it. 
  8. Define Key Terms: Clearly define and explain any key terms or acronyms you use. Create a glossary or provide definitions to aid comprehension.
  9. Be Concise: Keep your content concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary words and stick to the essential information.
  10. Remember Your Journey: Be empathetic to the beginner’s mind. Remember your journey of learning your industry and what content was most difficult to understand. 

For this week’s action items, I want you to go back to the basics with your content. I want you to become the favorite teacher in your industry by helping your audience learn the fundamentals. 

Here are three steps to take:

  1. Create a 101 Course Outline - Pretend you are designing an introductory college course on your industry. Write an outline of what information you would cover in the course and in what order.
  2. Break Up Topics - Take that outline and break it down into individual content topics. Create a mini-syllabus with individual topics and a brief description of each.
  3. Create Your Content - Pick one of those topics and create a social media post on it. It can be text, video, or images - whatever medium works best for you! Make the content easy for beginners to consume and engage with. 
“If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” - Albert Einstein

Learning to make content accessible is a critical part of building a digital sales funnel. It enables you to become the trusted advisor that your prospects want to buy from.

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