Why content is still king

Chess piece

Make the right moves with your online content.

With the vast plethora of online platforms now available to users, all of which are invariably free at the point of use, it is easy to see why marketers (professional and amateur alike) fixate on what social networks they should use and how often. This obsession is to the detriment of any marketing campaign because it detracts from getting right the bedrock of any marketer’s messaging: content.

Regardless of what you’re trying to communicate and regardless of the medium, quality, clarity and added value should be the cornerstones of any campaign. These cornerstones are embodied in the marketing content which is generated under the marketing campaign’s banner – and it should be your  content too.

The strength of online marketing is that it’s very easy to source appropriate content written by others that supports your campaign, but this is also a fundamental flaw of the medium.

If you are using others and their content all the time to advance your campaign, ultimately you are just boosting those people’s profiles and interests at the expense of your own. Other people’s content should always be an adjunct to your campaign and not the focus of it.

Generating or commissioning your own content is therefore the first principle of any online marketing campaign, for content is king of the marketing world – whereas the social networks are, and will always remain, the pawns. Without thought-through, self-generated content any campaign will remain anaemic and ill-defined, as it is through that content that a marketer will communicate brand values and narratives to the intended audience.

If content even just remains key, rather than king, in the marketing world, what actually defines ‘good’ content? Effective content should have the following qualities:

  • Regardless of the medium or length, content should be of a good quality that’s consistent with the brand values of what it’s promoting. Just because something like a tweet on Twitter is only 140 characters long does not mean that it is acceptable for such a message to be badly spelt, knocked off or irrelevant to the wider campaign.
  • Each piece of marketing content, again regardless of its form or the medium with which it is delivered, should enrich or engage with its intended audience. In other words, upon reading your content, does the intended audience feel informed or enthusiastic in any way? If you feel your marketing content does not achieve this, you may as well not bother distributing the content in the first place. The content should be written or recorded with the perspective and interests of the intended audience in mind. Chances are if your own marketing content seems boring or leaden to yourself, it will seem even more so to its intended recipients.
  • Content should be for the benefit of others or tell a relatable story, and not be about yourself or your company. Similar to the point above, any content you draft should not be overtly self-serving or solipsistic. You should be circulating material of use and interest, not just news stories about yourself or your company. Your company has a new product or service? Great, but how does it relate to others and your intended audience? Your company has a new sales director? Good for him or her and the company, but does anyone outside of the organisation really care or need to know? I doubt it.
  • Good content has to be consistent with the other content in a marketing campaign. No single piece of content can really be viewed in isolation from other pieces being generated for the same purpose elsewhere. Is all your content written or recorded in the same style or idiom as the other pieces in the campaign? If not, you could end up confusing your intended audience and diluting any impact your brand or messaging has elsewhere. In short, all content created for any one given purpose should be consistent.
  • Content has to be appropriate for the medium, and adapted as such. While it is important for content to be tonally consistent with other pieces in the marketing jigsaw of any one given campaign, it has to reflect the style, strength and constraints for the given medium. You may have some fantastic copy for your eight-page brochure, but that copy will be problematic if you just paste it into a solitary page on your company’s website; people do not read online content in the same way as they do with hard copy, and the text of the brochure may not be sufficiently search engine optimised for the benefit and effectiveness of the site. In other words, adapt or transpose the copy to meet the strengths of the new intended medium.
  • Audio-Visual (AV) content should be produced with the same due consideration and professionalism as written content. While it is easy for us to create our own video or audio content with even just the phones in our pockets , this does not mean that we should all start cheaply creating such content for our marketing campaigns. Yes, there are certain brands and campaigns where such a guerrilla style of production is effective, but even the better campaigns in that style have more forethought given to them than it first appears. Any marketing content that goes out in your brand’s name has to be of sufficient quality if it is not to detract from the overall impact definition of your campaign. Don’t overestimate your ability in this regard; your phone may record high-resolution footage, but this does not mean that you automatically become a Steven Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola. And while the picture quality may be superb, the audio is more than likely to be muffled and not up to the broadcast quality many subconsciously expect from campaign videos.  In other words, if you do not have the skills or the appropriate equipment to generate appropriate AV content (and be brutally honest with yourself about this), get a professional in to generate the content for you.
  • Just because social media is free at the point of use does not mean that you know how to translate or promote good content through the social networks. If you do not know how to adapt your content for social media platforms, hire a marketing professional who can do so on your behalf. You may be able to write the best content in the world, but unless you know how to translate or distil that copy into the different mediums out there, your content will cease to become good or relevant enough. Again, be honest with yourself: do you know how to measure social media metrics? Do you know when to post and how to semi-automate the process? Do you really know what platforms are appropriate for the content you have generated, and which are not? If the answer is no, look to hire a marketer who specialises in social media, to either run the campaign on your behalf or to train you in the relevant networks so you can use them yourself.

If you would like to know more about generating good marketing content for your campaigns, contact Full Media today by e-mailing nick@full-media.co.uk.

If you would like advice on Social Media marketing, contact Nick Lewis Communications by e-mailing info@nicklewiscommunications.com.

Nick is a communications professional with over 15 years’ experience of working in both the private and public sector. As Nick Lewis Communications, he’s now using his wealth of knowledge to help small businesses and organisations adapt to the modern online age. A graduate from the University of Wales Swansea, he worked in various marketing roles prior to launching Nick Lewis Communications in 2012.

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