What Differentiates Good Content From Bad Content?
This is a guest post – Jon Mowat used to make documentaries for the BBC. Nowadays he can be found running Bristol based video production and marketing company, Hurricane Media. You can follow Hurricane on Twitter or Facebook or check out their award winning videos on YouTube.
In today’s digital space, one of the major problems facing marketers is getting noticed in a sea of content.
A lot of content on a lot of different subjects.
In fact it’s possible that whatever obscure subject matter you can think of, someone somewhere has produced a piece of content about it.
So how do you stand out?
Let’s put down some statistics just to illustrate exactly how much content we’re talking about.
This is how much content is being produced every minute of every day:
- 2.5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook
- 300,000 tweets are sent on Twitter
- 220,000 new photos are shared on Instagram
- 72 hours of new video content is uploaded to YouTube
It’s an unimaginably large amount of information being created at a ridiculously fast rate. Digital marketers refer to this phenomenon as ‘content saturation’ and it poses a very big challenge.
So how do you stand out in this raging river of content?
Getting your own content ranking in Google’s search results inevitably involves good SEO, but the effectiveness of this approach is increasingly dependent on creating high quality content that people genuinely want to read and share.
What’s more if you are able to create high quality content, there are many sites and platforms other than your own, who may want to share or host your content for you.
Of course to stand a chance of getting your content on these platforms and getting real traction with it you need to create good content that stands out from the rest; which brings us back to our original question – what differentiates good content from bad?
Of course the real question you should be asking yourself is slightly more nuanced than this.
The Good, the Average and the Downright Ugly
Thinking along the lines of good marketing content vs bad marketing content is probably too binary a mindset. Another way of thinking about it is to lump everything into three broad groups:
Good content invariably does more than one thing well, and it will always do at least one of these things exceptionally well.
Whether it is to entertain or educate, it’s long been understood that the most successful brands have learnt to become successful publishers and this trait is more relevant in today’s overcrowded digital space than it ever has been.
This is the category the majority of content probably falls into. It’s ok but it’s not saying anything new or that hasn’t been said before.
That’s not to say this kind of content can’t be popular or successful; in fact quite the contrary. With a good marketing and promotional strategy, average content can easily get in front of a huge number of people and do its job very well.
Of course with the same marketing and promotional strategy, just think how much better it would be with exceptional content instead of something just average.
The Downright Ugly
Unfortunately this is the category a lot of marketing content still falls into.
Most of it we won’t ever see as it is designed purely to pad out websites with content for search engines or create links on dubious looking blogs for the same reason.
Google might be getting better at picking up on these spammy techniques but that doesn’t mean that they’ve gone away and there’s still a lot of this content out there.
Telling Stories and Creating Emotions
Storytelling has an important role in any culture and so too has it become a powerful force in online marketing.
Much of the secret of good storytelling comes down to the creation of a compelling narrative arc, with a distinct beginning, middle and end. This could be anything from a real life visionary story, a hilarious parody or a jaw dropping fantasy world.
In this sense storytelling in modern marketing is a complete departure from the old fashioned strategies of interruption marketing (as Seth Godin once referred to it) in which the product always takes centre stage and the call to action is clear.
This reliance on appealing to the more rational decision-making parts of our brain has in the last decade or so slowly given way to the more psychologically subtle form of content marketing that relies more on creating emotional connections.
Now, that’s not to say storytelling means necessarily forgetting about calls to action or rational appeals; it’s just that they are more subtlety interwoven or come second to the story itself. The art of good content is knowing how to exploit the emotional aspect of good content to create a sense of brand identity.
Such is the power of this connection and the lasting impression that genuine emotions can leave, much brand content surpasses the need for a marketing message entirely, leaving it up to the viewer to seek out more information about the company and its products. This method progresses the user down the purchasing funnel at their own pace.
Good Content, Wrong Audience
A final point needs to be made on the importance of a good marketing strategy, which I’ve alluded to already.
However amazing your content is, there can be no substitute for proper market research and effective content seeding. If you’re not putting your content in front of the right people then it won’t get shared and your brand marketing will falter.
We all want to hear stories; the trick is telling the right stories to the right people. Get that right and you’re on the way to creating a truly authoritative brand presence.
You can download Hurricane Media’s white paper, on how to stand out in the content soup.
About Jon Mowat
Jon Mowat used to make documentaries for the BBC. Nowadays he can be found running Bristol based video production and marketing company, Hurricane Media. You can follow Hurricane on Twitter or Facebook or check out their award winning videos on YouTube.
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