For something that is discussed so frequently in marketing and public relations, it sure is difficult to know what makes content any good. “Content” refers to the subject or ideas contained in something written, said, created or represented, and any marketer has probably had the saying “content is king” drilled into their heads. We all know it is especially true in our profession, but how do we go from a generalized, vague definition to something that is truly strategic and impactful for our marketing goals?
While how much content you produce and how it gets distributed can be subjective, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure you are always creating qualitycontent.
The human attention span is short and it’s only getting shorter with each generation as technology gives us more and more instant gratification. If you want to convey your message, whether it’s in an Instagram caption, blog post or instruction manual, the best way to do so is by being as brief as possible.
This doesn’t mean to leave out information. On the contrary, drafting content with brevity in mind helps you to be strategic about the channels you use and the information included. You may even find that the information you’re trying to impart might be better suited for another format. You’ll always be sure that you include only the most pertinent information if you keep conciseness at the top of your consciousness.
Relevance is another term that can be hard to define, but it is oh so important when it comes to having high quality content. When I think of relevance, I like to start with my audience and work backwards from there. Determining if something is relevant is all about the WIFM – What’s In It For Me? Or in this case it’s actually What’s In It For Them (WIFM)? I ask myself several questions before I even begin typing:
- Who will be reading this?
- What do I want them to take away?
- Why does this matter to them?
- How is what I’m creating differ from all the other messages they see every day?
Other things that make a subject or its content relevant for your audience might be that it’s timely. Sometimes it may make sense to tie a newsworthy theme into your content. Is everyone still talking about how they hated the Game of Thrones ending and you’re developing content around managing overbearing managers in the workplace? Go ahead and throw in a line or two about Daenerys to grab their attention. But if your content has nothing to do with a recent event or that story has gotten tired (GOT is on its way!), then it’s likely best to stick with your WIFT and keep it short and sweet.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being cliché or outdated and that’s the furthest thing from relevant.
Finally, the most important thing you can do with your content is to make it interesting. What does that mean? It means you should have a point of view, be engaging and make your target audience WANT to read it.
In a world where we are inundated with content at each turn, it is critical to be unique. Developing content for the sake of SEO and having a presence gets you nowhere if you don’t have something of value to say and an interesting way to say it.
The key to successful content marketing is obvious – it starts with quality content. Determine who your audience is and make your content relevant to them, keep it concise so people can absorb the information and, please, please, please – for the love of good PR – keep it interesting!
It’s a crowded content world out there. Create thoughtfully.