Content is not King anymore

There have been a number of articles written on the subject of how marketers and communicators can improve content creation and therefore content marketing.  A number discuss ‘how to tweak content to get noticed’ or ‘what you can do to make your content more viral’.  Many extol marketers to write a ‘content strategy’ or ‘to outsource content creation’ as a method of improving content.

In part they are all correct but only at a surface level.

The key driver to content marketing has to be an acceptance that content marketing is not content implementation and in the words of Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, speaking at CMW last year, “Content marketing is all about telling a compelling story.” And by way of an extension to Joe’s quote; great stories need to be consumed, engaged with and shared.

Social Media marketing or content marketing, by definition is that simple.

At least content marketing is that simple to describe, but very tricky for the vast majority of organisations to pull off successfully.

Back in 1996, just as the internet was starting to become something that organisations were noticing, Bill Gates published an essay called ‘Content is King’.  Many of the points he raised within the essay were prophetic and arguably none more so than the title itself. 

However, content is no longer King, but the entire royal family! And as such, not all content is made equal.  The vast majority of content created by organisations is banal, irrelevant or more often still, self-serving. And seemingly, it then mystifies many communicators as to why the content they create isn’t engaging for their audience.

Great content requires a different approach, but this approach doesn’t need to be ground-breaking.  In the words of Andrew Davis in his book Brandscaping, “Ask yourself, what simple twist on a familiar theme will entrap your audience? “

Some of the best content is outrageously creative and blazes a trail for others to follow.  Some content sets a new benchmark and asks the rest of us to step up our game.  But the majority of great content is just relevant or contextual, or in an ideal world, relevant and contextual.

Many organisations find it difficult to achieve relevance and/or context as they don’t consider their audience enough during the content planning process.

Organisations can extricate themselves from the malaise of producing bland content if they spend more time considering what their audience is interested in, rather than what they would like to say to them.  Whilst the two should be intimately linked, they are by no means the same.

If great content is storytelling a great story needs an engaged audience and one that is likely to repeat that story to people they know.  A story that is relevant or contextual is better still and as such much more likely to be retold, or in digital terms – shared.

Do you Like broccoli?

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, whose large flowering head is used as a vegetable – at least according to the Broccoli Facebook Page which interestingly has over 38,000 Likes.

To be clear, more than 38,000 people have clicked a button to tell the world that they Like broccoli.

This pointless fact is confirmation of two things; firstly that Likes are not a measure worthy of consideration as a measure of success and secondly, there are adults on Facebook, because surely teenagers wouldn’t be liking that particular Page?  With organic reach on Facebook continuing to fall and with the latest research from Social@Ogily putting the organic reach number at 2% for larger Pages, the value of a Like can surely now be defined as zero.

Which is good, because we can now move onto bigger and better measures of success, for example making money, raising money or even saving money.

Facebook Likes are the AVE (advertising value equivalency) of digital marketing.  To explain, for many years, the PR industry has used AVEs as a core measure of success, often to benchmark against advertising or marketing results which are arguably easier to track to a genuine return on investment.  AVEs took the column inches occupied by a news story, multiplied it by the value of the equivalent cost to run an advert of the same dimensions and then multiplied it again by a ‘value’ often a 3 multiple, as PR was seen to be ‘more valuable’.

AVEs have done the PR industry a huge disservice as they have held back real measurement in favour of an easy to complete hack measure which creates an entirely meaningless number.  Facebook’s change to reduce organic reach for Pages has rendered the Like, always really a vanity measure at best, as moribund as AVEs in measurement terms.

RIP the Facebook Like.