It never ceases to amaze me how often marketers and brand owners ignore their content. Branding, online services, UX, usability or new technologies are topics they very often talk, yet content doesn’t benefit the same treatment. So, this post is all about why you should pay attention to your content.
Neglecting your content …
For those of you familiar with the publishing environment, the issues regarding the quality of the content may be quite obvious. I believe such arrogant treatment of content it’s disrespectful for the readers, damaging for brands and very frustrating for those few content creators or digital professionals who really care about it.
I’ve always considered myself as part of the latter category, so for years I’ve preached content and content strategy for the clients. I keep doing it by writing about content my blog or various publications. Sometimes I get the chance to talk about content with students at Bucharest University, Communication and Public Relations University. Every now and then I advice friends who do business online about how they should manage the content workflow (from creation to production and performance measurement).
Ever since I’ve organized the first edition of World Information Day in Bucharest, many people working in the Romanian local industry asked me why do I include at least one topic related to content. Well, here’s o more detailed answer.
Not just an afterthought
Great user experiences are created through branding, content, functionality and usability. They all go hand in hand. Secondly, good quality content is difficult to find in Romanian, so we need to do something about it.
This article is for all those who still question the importance of content and this is what needs to be understood. Once your content is out there on the Internet, two things that happen. First, like it or not, regardless of the industry you doing business in, you are a publisher too, so you must take responsibility for your role new role.
“the days of trying to ‘game the system’ are pretty much over, and now it’s about putting time and effort into creating content that is genuinely valuable.”
Secondly, whether you are aware or not, you are getting into a long-term commitment relationship – content is not something you check off a list and are done with; it doesn’t take care of itself; once published, content has a life of its own, and your customers control it—they like, they share, they criticize etc.; it requires ongoing care, development and update.
Google does care about content
Most probably you already now that content quality matters and Google is making sure of it. In a recent post published by Econsultancy, Jack Simpson, citing a new report on how Google is increasingly valuing ‘quality content’ when it comes to search rankings. This is old news, some might say, yet as Simpson underlines this shows a clear signal for marketers
Google is changing the way it determines content quality and all those who one way or the other have a publisher’s role, must pay attention.
The amount of time spent on a page impacts search ranking, so keeping the reader engaged has to become a priority.
For more details on how you can achieve ‘quality content’ on your site, based on some of the key findings of the study, please read Simpson’s How Google defines ‘quality content.
Your brand story…
Content brings your brand to life and it has an essential role in creating and maintaining a powerful and relevant brand. That goes for both online and offline. Your content tells your story. It manages expectations. It answers questions of both customers and employees. It drives decision-making. Content can either build or break trust. Real content inspires and entertains. And make no mistake, everybody in the organization is responsible for the content; it’s just a matter of realizing that not everything you should do is listed in your job description… and, of course, is also about taking responsibility.
What content is for you …
At first sight, content is a lot of things … Everything that contains information and helps you establish a conversation with our stakeholders (customers, prospects, employees, press, investors, partners, suppliers etc.) Content contains a lot of things―text, images, movies, sounds. All you “see” on our website is content.
Here are few things I’ve learned about content from some really smart people and personal experience:
- Content is a business asset – it’s difficult to put a 5 a $1, $5, or $10 denomination stamped on the front of your content, but just imagine how you would run your business without it;
- Content is not a feature, is your product – it is the lifeblood of any organization or brand; it is everything that contains information and helps you establish a conversation with your stakeholders (customers, prospects, employees, press, investors, partners, suppliers etc.);
Good quality content needs a clear brand vision, few good user personas, a well-defined strategy and adequate resources because, when is managed poorly, content can become very expensive. One cannot talk about good content quality without a properly defined and executed content strategy. As Karen McGrane says,
Content strategy isn’t “about creating content just because you can. It’s about aligning a publishing model with business goals. Understanding how content aligns with business goals is the strategy part of content strategy.”
Getting to know content better
If this few ideas got your attention, I would recommend you to take a step further and either read some really useful books on content that you can easily buy on Amazon or have a look at the articles and case studies published on my blog:
- Content strategy at Work: Real-world Stories to Strengthen Every Interactive Project (Margot Bloomstein, 2012)
- The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right (Margot Bloomstein, 2015)
- Content strategy for the web (Karin Halvorson & Melissa Raach, 2nd edition, 2012)
- Web content strategist’s Bible (Richard Sheffield, 2009)
- Managing enterprise content (Ann, Rockley & Charles Cooper, 2012).
“High quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.” (Kristina Halvorson)