The last few weeks all the blogs I'm signed up to (and read, of course) have been about content: content marketing, content strategy, tips for creating scintillating digital content, optimizing content, search and content I have content coming out of my ears. Good thing, or bad thing?
I've been advising a friend, a published author with a young-teenage audience who is extremely shy and publicity-averse, to get herself into the social media sphere. She needs to understand her audience better, get into a dialogue with them, test out new ideas and deepen her niche.
Everything I suggest to her is stuff you'll have heard and read a thousand times, so I won't repeat it here. And she's taken my advice, so we'll soon know the results.
But here's the rub: what always happens is I wave my hands around very intensely about something until someone actually starts doing what I suggest, and then I panic - what if I was wrong, and it's not the right strategy for her? What if she exerts tons of energy and gets little back? What if nothing good comes of it?
What if all this business about content is just one big con?
So then I started thinking again about The Sun newspaper, a pet rant. For years I've been trying to figure out the appeal of this paper, and in particular why people want to look at page 3 over their breakfast cereal or on the way to work. I don't have a moral view about page 3, I just don't get it.
I can see that The Sun reflects widely held views about politics, government, other people and so on. But page 3, to me, belongs somewhere else. In other words, I didn't get The Sun's content strategy.
But the other day the penny finally dropped. Page 3 might not make sense to me as content, but it's central to The Sun's brand which is all about being a bit naughty, a bit disrespectful and bit unconventional.
In the context of the brand, page 3 makes perfect sense.
And this is where we get back to content, and the question of how vital it is. Content is indeed king where it reflects, reinforces and promotes the essence and attributes of a brand. Where there is a disconnect between the brand and the content, or a contradiction, the content will bomb.
So be clear about your brand, and be clear how your content reflects it. Without a brand, content is like a voice in an empty room. Likewise, a brand that's not backed up by good and appropriate content is like decaffeinated coffee: it smells right but doesn't deliver, so what's the point.