What Makes For Good Content?

You know, what with the running theme we had these few weeks about content — making it, spreading it around and marketing it (and marketing with it) — we may have looked past some things that are so simple we take them for granted.

  • Content is messages. You got something to say, and you share it. People can listen or read, and respond.
  • Content calls for engagement, response and reaction.
  • Content is giving form to your thoughts, or voice to your words, and sharing that. Content calls for sharable media in a public forum.
  • Online content is intent captured in ink and pixels: to share, to sell, to uplift, to inform, to teach, to show.
  • Content differs with each creator, but all content-creators want to feel their voice being heard, and to have registered with their audience.
  • Content needs an audience to resonate with.

We are a story-telling race. We tell stories to make sense of the world, to explain things, to teach. We use stories to call attention, incite, and educate. From the first cave-drawing to the little flash-ads scrolling on your screen, people want to get their message across. It’s in our nature.

Now the internet has given us a multitude of platforms on which to stand, and a very big bullhorn with which to reach our audiences. Content is words, and art, and sound, and video. Content lets you tell a story and helps you connect. What else is the internet but an virtual net connecting everyone through posted messages, and reactions sent back and forth? There are great watering holes where we gather to drink our fill of the information we want and need. As long as they don’t run dry, we’ll keep coming back.

What kind of content do we go for anyway?
Blogs, newsletters, and videos for daily updates. E-books, pod-casts, and e-zines to keep current. Webinars, whitepapers, and articles to educate ourselves… Whatever the platform, the content trickles into niches and targeted audiences. Whatever the niche — financial, information technology, entertainment, health and beauty, DIY crafting, self-help — the possibilities to share are endless.

Nobody knows exactly what new things will pop up in the next 5 or 10 years. That’s why we talk to one another and share things over the internet. We get feedback and counter-arguments, criticism (constructive or otherwise) and other points of view. The internet helps us grow stronger by sharing brainpower.

The underlying development now that drives content is how to make a stronger audience. On one end, there are people who would believe anything because “they read it somewhere on the internet.” On the other end, there are those who wouldn’t believe anything they find on the internet. In the middle, the rest of us are confused and yet valiantly trying to understand and navigate the great rivers of information that are refreshed daily.

It’s like a more complicated chicken and egg question. Does a strong message make for strong impact? Depends on the timing, the circumstances and the reception. Does a strong message make for a strong audience? It depends on how they can help themselves using the insight and information you share.

Now, why would you send a message? Because it serves a purpose.

  • How do you craft a message to your audience? What factors do you consider when you make a message?
  • What are the factors you consider to make sure they can get the message? In what format, on what platform?
  • What do you do to make sure they can find the message? SEO, mobile optimization, e-newsletters, etc. What else?
  • What does your content aim for? To get more sign-ups, to sell more of your product, to get your brand noticed and remembered. What else?

 

When you send a message, when your content influences people to act, you create connections. Good content powers those connections. Think of all the comments, re-tweets and reblogs and notes on popular posts. Think of the ‘likes’ and votes. Those signs means people are reading, viewing, watching and sharing. People share their support and their reactions in exchange for good content.

What are you doing to keep up with developments? Reading, listening and viewing aren’t restricted to laptops and desktops anymore. People’s options have expanded aside from dedicated e-readers and music players. Mobile computing is just the current, obvious arena — people are rushed for time, they won’t whip out at laptop on the bus if they can do a little work on their smartphones, or smaller tablets. BUT, optimized for small screen or big screen, what keeps people coming back is good content that is easy to find, useful and relevant. How do you reach your market?

What you also need to focus on is leading your audience to your good content.
Your target audience doesn’t have the time to go on prolonged hunts for what they need… and, well, people are a rather lazy bunch; left to our own devices we prefer to let others do the recommendations for us. The first few results from a search can do it. A recommendation or a post with a ‘like’ can be the tipping point. That’s why SEO is so important.

That’s also why you need to optimize your social media presence. What tools you choose must contribute positively and definitively to making connections to your readers, and converting those connections into sales. It’s like taking a shot at a target. First, you need one to aim at, then you need to focus on that target, and then the other things come into play to ensuring you have the highest probability of hitting your target.

Good content is your bullet, and search engine and social media optimization are the important factors that help it penetrate your market.

 

Blogs are everywhere, and as for video, well, everybody visits YouTube. Then there’s the smaller but still powerful audio media market with podcasts for people who prefer to listen on the go, or webinars for those seriously interested in a particular subject. Whatever the form, content connects. Your ‘About’ section on your website tells people who you are and what’s your purpose. The sign-up section encourages them to join your mailing list for updates. Your blog posts share information you believe can help your readers — whether it’s to amuse, educate or enlighten them about topics you both are interested in and passionate about. Newsletters are to update your subscribers about new information, products or developments they might find helpful.

What’s posted on the internet stays on the internet. Producing quality content will say a lot about you and your brand, and it’s your decisions that will determine whether what is said is good or bad. Doing the picky, hard work of studying and applying the best way to produce, present and leverage your content and social media is sure to put you further along the path to success.

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