I’m sorry… Your content stinks

Apr 3, 2014   //   by Mike   //   Uncategorized  //  Comments Off on I’m sorry… Your content stinks

You might’ve seen Bite’s crusade to ‘stop content pollution‘. It’s a thing we’re doing to encourage companies to stop spewing out insipid, overly-messaged, relentlessly-search-optimised stuff for the benefit of marketers and lawyers and start adding value to the good people of the planet.

I remember getting my first job as content manager of a website about mobile technology. It was the first time I’d heard the word ‘content’, and it grated on me. It’s such an ugly word. Not only did it work too well with the word ‘stomach’ and ‘bowel’, it also seemed to reduce the job of crafting words and pictures into sharp, insightful stories to fighting a never-ending flow of bilge.

15 years later, I’m not sure we’ve quite cracked the content conundrum. There are many more places where content can sit (like LinkedIn’s publisher platform, for example) and a lot of it, if you pardon my bluntness, stinks.

The main issue that businesses still need to get their heads around is why this content is being created. Do you create content to drive traffic to your site? Do you make a video to see how many views you can get? Do you write a white paper to generate leads? Are you writing to push yourself up the search rankings? Did you start a corporate blog because all your competitors did and you’re getting left behind?

Then stop what you’re doing right now. None of those reasons are any good.

There is only one purpose for the content you create, and that’s to improve a customer’s day. You need to inform or entertain. All the strategic stuff, like where the content is going to sit and how it’s going to flow through your marketing plan, can come later.

Spend time understanding your customers, and then spend even longer coming up with a brilliant idea about how to tell them something interesting. That’s really the only way to avoid being a polluter.

So here’s a tip: The next time someone is selling you content based on views, search, or leads, stop the meeting and tell the person something surprising that they didn’t know, or a story that you think they’ll find funny. Shock them, or make them laugh. If your customers wouldn’t react in the same way, you’re doing it wrong.

If they would, then you’re a content crusader. We need more people like you.

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