We all know we need it. We can recognize it. The challenge is to get it. To create that perfect intersection of relevance, “edutainment” value and authenticity that will make consumption of your content a satisfying experience. In other words, people out there in the universe will want to consume and share your content!
Why is it so difficult to create this type of content? Why is it so rare? Increasingly, good quality content is becoming a serious business asset that can generate eyeballs, click-throughs, and ultimately, leads for your business. It’s getting so this content piece is a “must have”, as opposed to a “nice to have”.
In my mind, there are three things that make good quality, shareable content really hard to create. Not to say there aren’t lots of challenges, but these are the stand-outs for me:
- It takes a lot of time and skill to produce. It always takes more time to produce great content than anybody thinks. Assuming that you go to the trouble to hire a great content producer in order to create something that is relevant, entertaining and authentic, that producer will have to properly understand your target audience, the value-add nugget of information you can provide to your audience, the sub-culture of your audience, your brand identity, voice, etc. You get the idea. We’re talking full creative brief, multiple revisions, identifying the right visual look if the content is graphical. Not to scare anyone off, but this can be a major project.
- It’s got to be short. Copywriting and word-crafting have never been more important skill sets than in today’s social media content world. Whole new disciplines are evolving around writing social media-friendly lines of copy that will generate interest and social activity, while keeping content short, easy to scan and easy to digest. This is really hard. Always. Full stop.
- Your content has to add value. You need to deliver the goods. You can thrill, inspire, inform and entertain—go ahead and indentify what will work best for you, but you need to add something to the equation. You need to thoroughly understand where you can add value, and how. And you likely need to understand the relationship between your target audience and your product, brand, service, company or topic. This is the intersection between the intrinsic skills of a creative team and the deep understanding of your audience that can come from research, twenty years in the business or shared life experiences. It almost doesn’t matter where it comes from, but that understanding is likely going to be there, if your content is resonating.
As someone who has always loved words, ideas and visuals (I was that yearbook editor in high school), I love that we’re here. I love that after all my years working with technology, we’re coming back to the age old skills of storytelling and connecting with your audience. But we do need to remind ourselves that writing, drawing, painting and crafting content has always been hard and producing the best of the best, will always be a messy, painstaking process. Just because we can publish it with a tap of a finger does not make the creation process any easier. Just because Seth Godin makes it look easy, doesn’t make it so.
What do you think? Am I missing something?
You’ve really hit the nail on the head here, Ruth. As an editor (and writer) I find another challenge is communicating that it’s no longer (nor should it ever have been!) about ‘keyword stuffing’. This ties in with your third point. I find many organisations issue their writers with target keywords and, so long as that phrase appears throughout the copy, they couldn’t care less how the content reads or relates to the reader. Quality, relevant, engaging copy will always win.