Another Content Is King Statement: Daughter Loses A Present
If there is one term that I thought we had seen the back of it’s, ‘content is king.’
It means nothing.
This is what I saw last week pop up again in my Twitter feed.
It’s my daughter’s birthday next month, any sentence that has the word ‘content’ and ‘king’ linked together, she loses a present.
My wife is about to buy a trampoline that could be going on Gumtree before 7th May.
Why It Is Meaningless
You have read it in one form or another over the past few years and has become one of the most meaningless phrases to be seen on any social feed, alongside ‘dance like nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening’ on a Monday morning.
Lets start by saying that content doesn’t mean anything unless it connects, is promoted, shared and acted upon, on a consistent basis.
Bill Gates coined the term in an article published on the Microsoft site in 1996 called, ‘Content Is King’. He stated that, “One of the things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”
I cannot disagree with that, it’s the just the abandon of the term I have issue with.
Having Too Much Of Everything
Where we are today is people becoming confused with the purpose of content.
The frames on a wall in an art gallery contain the content that represents the artwork, sitting through Britain’s Got Talent and each act is considered content. However, you will never walk out of the next Star Wars and tell everyone what a great piece of content it was.
What ‘content is king’ highlights is we have way too much of everything.
Companies can start slipping into lazy marketing jargon alongside the stoic belief that if you tell others to create fantastic, unique content then you can sell your products and services better than advertising. This is far easier said than done. It means nothing to anyone, unless there is proof with an approach to consider and backing it up with facts (data), experience and then opinion (why not read this article about stating opinion or fact).
The reason I believe that people still hold onto this statement, is that it has been embedded for years as an acceptable term to confirm the validity of an approach. Meaning the ability to create something at scale in the hope that others will notice it.
Just doing it is never enough.
All In The Same Room
It gets tiring seeing the same old words used in presentations (trust me I saw it whilst walking around the room at the Digital Marketing Show last year at Excel, London).
Taking things to a new stage, we have now got excited that content isn’t king anymore but: context; distribution; promotion; relevance are now the takers of the sacred crown.
What Content Actually Is
All content represents is an unprocessed resource that if you work on it, mould it, give shape, it can become useful to someone else.
Have a read of this recent article from The Content Marketing Institute (April 17th). Michael Brenner suggests, ‘stop creating content. Create a content brand.’ It basically states the difference between content and content marketing. This is everything about communicating with others on their terms that they find interesting and not filling the sales funnel.
What’s The Answer?
Rather this article turning into a rant, there has to be an answer for others to back up a slim statement.
Before we get excited and step up proudly to state that ‘content is king,’ there has to be real meaning.
Here are some pointers to consider making sure there is a definition to everything that you create and communicate.
Before you jump in, know why you are doing it
Having a strategy in place that understands who your audience is and the goals you want to achieve (once some encounters your content), is the place where everything starts.
I asked Tom Goodwin, in a Talking Content Marketing interview if companies are just jumping in on the term ‘content marketing?’ Tom said, “Content marketing has never been defined, it seems to be a bucket that we put many things into”
“We need to think about people, what do people need, want, value, cherish, how do we add something to them? Is that value in entertainment or utility or information?”
Create a narrative that can draw people in
This is all about making people feel something by a connection, rather than telling them how to behave. Author of the Storytelling Book, Anthony Tasgal highlights, “Consumers, or people as I like to call them, like dealing with people.”
“It is an endemic fault within the business (marketing, sales, and comms) world to assume that we need to use the language of maths, science and rationality to ‘persuade” people to buy our brands, service or company.”
Brands today now need to make a ‘promise’ as highlighted by Seth Godin in 2006, “The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”
Content created, has to be promoted
Too much emphasis is spent on creation as opposed to being seen in the eyes and ears of someone else. According to Chad Pollitt, “Last year, on average, brands spent at least 15.2% of their content marketing budgets on promotion, but only 37% of content marketers felt their efforts were effective.”
“That tells me that not enough time and resources are being spent on promotion. Content marketers should be spending 40% to 60% of their time and resources promoting the content they produce or curate.”
Make people feel compelled to share
If a piece of content can stir someone else, it is more likely to be acted upon. Mark Schaefer highlights, “People share content for hundreds of different reasons but there is a uniform psychology behind it very much connected to self image, caring for others, and even caring for the author or brand.”
“It is an intimate experience, an enormous sign of trust and communion that I never considered before.”
This idea of people feeling emotionally compared to share gives reason to believe, rather than blindly stating that content is king.
What is created resonates and is acted upon
Rather than thinking that credibility is seen from retweets and likes, doesn’t mean that people are paying attention, in the words of Jay Acunzo, “The volume game, if it works at all, really only achieves reach. But to prompt someone to agree with or appreciate your content emotionally and intellectually enough to THEN take another action? That’s not about reach — that’s about resonance.”
“Writing awesome headlines but terrible paragraphs is like making a party sound awesome, but when guests arrive, the chips are stale, the music sucks, and there’s a faint, rancid smell on the carpet. Sure, you got them to be present there, but will they ever actually do anything with you after that?”
As an aside, check out Jay’s new podcast, Unthinkable, stand 100% beside what he is doing here.
Lets Round Up
In order to build a community and people to buy from you, content means nothing when it sits in isolation or taking on board a mission to simply ‘do more content.’
It is a meaningless phrase if it has no reason, no substance and no audience to talk to.
The opportunity is to take a breath before jumping in with the tactical approach and recognise: why you are going to commit; the narrative that sits with it; a thirst to promote; a reason to share; and confidence to be acted upon.
1996 was a long time ago, we have to change and evolve a statement that has taken on a different meaning.
It is time to show proof and give people a reason, not regurgitate what the masses have barked.