Over the past few years, there has been a tremendous focus on content creation in the digital marketing world. Consumers are more likely to buy from companies that create custom content, and so content marketing – the thoughtful creation of content designed for a specific audience to inspire a particular outcome – has become a top priority for digital marketers and brands in 2014.
Our industry is absolutely obsessed with “storytelling” right now. There's been a huge trend – dare I say revolution – in brands telling stories that "inspire" and provoke consumers' attention, imagination and willingness to interact. As a result, content marketing has engulfed social media marketing, as brands realize that social media success hinges on telling "great stories." Personally, I'm not buying it.
First and foremost, content should be helpful to people – you're trying to convert them into customers, after all. A content writer's job is to deconstruct information and present it in a way people can easily absorb. I'm not saying it can't be inspiring or well-written, but the simple fact of the matter is – even if your content is of value – it isn't what your audience is reading for fun. Consumers know the difference between Breaking Bad and Coca-Cola's brand story.
Content writers don't have to be amazing storytellers, but they should be great tour guides. Their job is to introduce you to a subject you’re unfamiliar with, and help you arrive at a certain understanding without losing you along the way. The most important take away from any piece of content is what will the consumer learn from you? How will it benefit them? Remember, a reader's attention is a privilege, not a right - answer the question "what's in it for me?"
The above image is from Sidney Lumet's 1976 film, Network. In the film, a television network cynically exploits a deranged news anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit. It's an exceptional satire of news media that only becomes more relevant with each passing year. Even if you haven't seen it – and you totally should, it's on Netflix – you've probably heard the famous quote "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Why am I mentioning this? Well, first off – director Sidney Lumet and writer Paddy Chayefsky are great storytellers. Secondly, I've grown increasingly frustrated with what television networks and national publications are pawning off as "content" these days.
I'm sure you've noticed the increase of "reality" programming on television, not to mention how completely worthless 24-hour cable news channels like CNN and Fox News are when it comes to reporting actual facts. If you want high quality content these days, you have to go searching for it. Investigative journalism has been replaced with rampant speculation, and vapid, entirely scripted "reality" shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty hold more cultural sway than in-depth biographies, documentaries and legitimate works of art. Defenders of said trash television will say, "It's just mindless entertainment" - and that's the problem. If it took little-to-no effort to create, then it's ultimately disposable.
And then there's marketing. It seems like every marketing agency is now suddenly an authority on content and storytelling. The fact of the matter is, it takes more than just speaking in buzzwords and Googling "content marketing trends" to be a credible source on the subject. Creating great content is difficult, and delivering great content consistently requires foresight and strategy. It's all about carving out an identity for your brand while giving the consumer something they can actually use - not just flowery metaphors and doublespeak.
Content writing should be more about helping and less about hype, but hey - that's just one content marketer's opinion.
At The Idea People, we have four full-time, in-house professional content writers who write and distribute original content weekly (and daily on social media platforms) for our clients. We write topic-relevant articles and content that incorporates strategic keywords for search engine optimization.
To learn more about how web content writing and content marketing can help your business solidify parts of your market, please call Jay Joyce with The Idea People at 704-398-4437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help your brand and story reach multiple marketplaces, users and platforms.