Content is all I have ever been about – but it’s misunderstood

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If you read marketing industry blogs or publications at all, you will have been gagged to the point of choking on the idea that “content is king”. This little phrase, apparently coined by Bill Gates circa 1996, has been bandied about to the point of near meaninglessness and debated to an almost unfathomable degree.

For people who are not content or digital marketers – what do these terms mean and why do you need to care? I am finding that as straightforward as the term “content” is – or should be – it’s actually sort of misunderstood. A lot like the oft-thrown-about term “digital”. What does “digital marketing” really consist of?

Content is not the king. (You know very well that Elvis still is, and always will be, the king.)

Content is drop-dead important. But without context, relevance and a plan, content can be fairly meaningless. Just a fountain of uselessness that does not achieve anything. You are not going to get anywhere without good content that supports whatever your mission is. Content drives everything and even though it’s front and center, it is also kind of a behind-the-scenes engine – you get followers, shares, attention, discussion – by creating content that is worth talking about. Relevant. Not spun BS. Not repetitive garbage. Hopefully not jargon-filled nonsense. Everywhere you look, you are advised to “create content worth spreading” – and for all purposes, this is true. Get content right and your job is easier.

In much of my freelance work, I have wanted to yell at my clients: “Stop chasing trends and buzzwords and focus on the real meat on the bone – and the bone itself.” Good content is almost all that is going to get you the right (target) audience or traffic – and of course you need to drive traffic from somewhere. But content plays the most important role in that as well. You can’t really have an effective SEO strategy without focusing on content. (Search algorithms are actively taking quality and freshness into account.) You can’t effectively distribute content if you have not really got something worthwhile to put out there.

As far as content goes, I am well aware that this blog post is generic and serves mostly to air my own frustration about how much mileage this topic gets without people gaining any deeper understanding of how they need to focus on content development and content marketing. I almost feel like there are a lot of people in business who read a lot of articles about this elusive “content” and spout a lot of stuff about how content needs to be – but they are not really content creators themselves and therefore have no hands-on understanding of how it fits into and supports their goals.

To calm the nerves, then, a song from ages ago. “Sheffield Park” – The Mekons

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