Content is king! How many times have you heard/read or even uttered that statement? Based on the fact that there are over 3.1 million search results for the phrase “content is king”, I am guessing the answer is more than once – I know I have. Bill Gates is credited with authoring the first “Content Is King” post back in January of 2006 but is that statement still true today? I am not quite so sure.
Which Came First? The Content Or The Audience?
The answer to this question is the key to determining if content still reigns supreme. After much thought, the answer became clear to me – content is not king, your audience is. Consider this – your audience dictates everything about your content: what you create, how you create it, where you create it, etc. This is true in all scenarios whether you are a magazine publisher or a Fortune 500 company. Why would you spend time creating content that your audience was not interested in – you wouldn’t!
So if content is not king, what is it? I think content can be classified as both “the court jester” (it entertains and engages) and as a “knight at the round table” (it’s informative and helpful). However not all content is created equal – simply having tons of content does not guarantee success. You need content that motivates your audience to take action. Those actions could be as simple as sharing the content or commenting to more complex actions such as submitting a request form or making a purchase. Regardless, if your main goal is simply more traffic than as Mark Schaefer said, “you’ve picked the wrong goal”.
How to Create Great Content
A great place to start is by taking a look at this post from Suzanne Vara in which she describes the four characteristics of good content. The post recommends that your content should provoke thought, entertain, educate and inform. I would add that in addition, content should be authentic and create trust. The best way of going about this is to listen first, don’t fall victim to the biggest mistake that marketers make by failing to listen. By listening first, you can help answer these important questions.
6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Creating Content
- What does my audience want/need?
- What are their interests?
- What are their pain points?
- What type of content does my audience want? (blog, whitepaper, webcast, video, etc)
- Where does my audience want to consume it? (online, offline, mobile, etc)
- How frequently does my audience want to be updated?
Once you have begun creating the type of content that your audience desires, the next step is measuring and optimizing. By looking at metrics such as time on site, repeat visitors, social shares, comments and conversions you can begin to understand what type of content performs well and what stage of the buying cycle your audience is in. This information will help you understand your audience better and drive results.
Content is no longer king – long live your audience!