Is Content Still King? Yes, but There’s More to It Than That

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In my series of 10 “Cs”, I’ve written about “conservation” and “compatibility,” both significant parts of the package. The third is just as important: “content.”

IPads, iPhones and other mobile devices, Kindle, Nook, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more are all obviously popular technologies, endlessly discussed in blogs, e-newsletters and magazines; at conferences, cocktail parties and water coolers and on elevators, golf courses and talk shows.

These new technologies allow us to communicate faster, more frequently and to a wider audience. But our fixation with them is obsessive.

Don’t get me wrong. We should all embrace these new technologies. They make us smarter, faster and more efficient. They save us money and time. They connect us.

But does the gizmo in our hand engage us, or are we engaged by what we see, read and hear? Is our message as important as the device on which our message is delivered?

The plethora of new devices that deliver content has distracted us from the content itself. Because we deliver more and more of it, content has become commoditized. There is more content of less quality. As a result, truly good content is in greater demand. Do you deliver good content? Or are you just good at delivering?

Restore Media routinely conducts research to find out what information (content) our readers, Web site visitors and conference attendees want. You tell us, “I need technical data” or “I’m looking for solutions” or “Your information is reliable.” In the research, there is not much feedback about how the content is received; nearly all of it has to do with the quality of the content itself. Is this because people view our content as information (about their businesses and fields) instead of entertainment? In the general media, the difference is often blurry, with the emphasis on the delivery method.

Wikipedia is very convenient and widely used. It jumps to the top of most Google searches. But the information it delivers is not always true or accurate. Like fast food, it is widely available but not very good.

Different kinds of content lend themselves to different kinds of content delivery technologies. Visual, color-sensitive design ideas convey best in a big, colorful magazine format. Technical data, the kind of information we have to look up, reads well online. The typical reader of Clem Labine’s Traditional Building magazine spends an hour reading the publication. The Web visitor to www.traditional-building.com spends about 10 minutes on the Web site (a lengthy visit by Internet standards). The fact-seeking audience for www.traditional-building.com is several times larger than the audience for Traditional Building magazine. Clearly, each delivers a different content experience.

What content do you create about your product, practice or business? Whether you deliver this content on your Web site, via your catalogue or on your Facebook page, this content needs to be good. Good content sets you apart.

What makes good content? Reliable sources, facts, research, specificity, word choice, illustration, correct punctuation, experience, complicated topics made understandable, brevity, clarity, cadence and, perhaps most important, relevance. Your message will resonate with your audience because it means something to them. It should speak to their specific needs and interests, at the right time.

When it does, it will engage with readers no matter how it is delivered. Then and only then should you deliver your content in as many ways as possible.