‘Content’ is such a buzzword these days – it is a concept surrounded by myths and anecdotes. There isn’t a small business owner who hasn’t been told “you need good content.”
Yet, when you dig a bit deeper you find that ‘you need good content’ creates a lot of confusion and anxiety and, as a result, no one really understands why they need good content or, even, what is really meant by ‘content.’
So over the next few blogs, let me unpick that for you. Let me show you how to Make Content Work For You. And let’s start with the absolute basics.
What is Content?
Google the word content and you get a range of definitions (depending on how you pronounce it). The two that are closest for our purposes are:
- the material dealt with in a speech, literary work, etc. as distinct from its form or style.
- information made available by a website or other electronic medium.
Frankly, I’m not mad keen on either of these. They don’t really help you work out what you need to do, so I’ve found a better one. Content is:
anything which adds value to an audience
Okay, we’ve got a definition – and we’ll be coming back to that in a moment to make it more meaningful for you, but let’s pause for a moment and consider another really important question
Why does content matter?
There are broadly four reasons that content can help you if you are in business or running a charity or wanting to make a statement for any other reason:
- Visibility: by producing a regular supply of content, you are showing up to show that you have something to say in your market
- Attracting new customers: people may not know that your product exists so you have an opportunity to explain hat you do and how you do it in a way that appeals to them
- Differentiation: This is really important in markets which are over-crowded. Why should someone chooses you over all the rest? Answer: Because of the value you offer – and content is explaining that.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), if someone searches online, the more new content you have the higher up the list you appear
So, we have what and we have why. Now let me debunk the three biggest myths about content so you can start to think about how content can work for you.
Myth 1: My content has to appeal to everyone.
Your audience is unique to you, so tailor your content to that audience. Don’t try to make it universal . By doing that you risk alienating the very audience you sought to cultivate. For example, if you’re writing a computer guide aimed at IT experts but waste time on basics, you risk the expert audience getting bored and switching off even though they should be your primary concern. They want to the nitty-gritty technical stuff. And yes, your average home IT user will be baffled – but that doesn’t matter.
What does matter is knowing who your audience is. And it won’t just be your customers.
Let’s take another example. Let’s say you make printed football shirts for youth teams. In this case the audience is diverse. We have:
- Customer- The team manager who is buying shirts for his team
- Prospect- The manager of a team which needs new shirts.
- Supplier- Who has provide shirts in all colours and sizes
- Community- The people of town in which the team plays
- End user- The children who wear the shirts
- ‘Connected users’- The parents who have to wash the shirts
- Staff- Your team who take orders, make and pack the shirts
- Regulators- The Football Association who have rules about football strip
Your situation will have just as many potential audiences and many more. So think it through and identify them.
Myth 2: Value is about money
If content is anything that adds value to your audience you could be forgiven for thinking that’s all about financial value. In this context, however, value is anything which your audience might find useful. Let’s take the previous example of football shirt printing and think what value you can add to your audience.
- Entertain- Feature videos of football being played, football memes, the latest scores, etc.
- Give ideas for other users- Maybe some users don’t play football, but the shirts look good off the pitch too.
- Inform- Show the ‘connected users’ how to wash the shirts so the colours don’t run
- Educate- Demonstrate what the manufacturing process for the shirts is
- Support- Post images of the local teams to help them find sponsorship
- Align – Show what your values are as a business so others with similar values feel a connection
It is always worth working out what are the different values you can bring for your own specific audiences. Knowing what they want will really pay off.
Myth 3: Content is written
Content is anything which adds value to the audience.
It can, of course, be written in blogs, social media posts or articles, but it can also be:
- Audio– Podcasts, radio, songs
- Video– Facebook Live videos, Youtube clips, DVDs
- Visual – Photos, infographics, memes
- Personal – You in person at a networking event, training course or presentation
It can be Anything…. REALLY Anything
Going for a cup of coffee and a chat is content!!!
What you should be getting from this is that your skills are the basis of the content.
If you own a restaurant, your recipes and techniques are the content.
If you install kitchens, advice on adjusting doors is content.
If you’re a Content Alchemist, advice on developing content is content.
Now that we’ve gone through these myths, I hope you feel more confident to go out and produce your own content. You might even have gained some new ideas for your next content project. If you have, post them below – I’d love to hear them.