Published: 12/05/2016 | AUTHOR: Michael Cavanagh
Content eh? So much content. It’s everywhere. Put it all together and it’d probably stretch to Pluto and back. Or somewhere else that’s extremely far away.
The amount of money spent on content marketing in the UK is now predicted to rise 179.2% to £349 million in 2020. Those are big numbers. That’s a lot of content.
And never mind 2020 – the world is full of content already. We’re exposed to it everywhere. We check our phones in the morning, sometimes before even getting out of bed. We look at news online, spend a bit of time on social media, maybe watch a video.
We head to work and – if you’re not still staring at the phone – you might be reading a paper, a magazine or a report.
At work (assuming of course you’re not working in the great outdoors) we’ve got presentations, infographics, webinars, more reports, events to attend, emails with fancy attachments, Hangouts to erm…hang out at.
And after work we’ve got TV, apps, more social, more videos…and so it goes on, day in, day out.
Every day, more and more content is published, filmed, sent, shared, created, curated, optimised, edited, designed and written. And you know what? A very sizeable chunk of it will be ignored.
Please pay attention
So why’s that then? Is it because we’ve all got really short attention spans? I SAID IS IT BECAUSE WE’VE ALL GOT REALLY SHORT ATTENTION SPANS? Please do keep up at the
Well, apparently our attention spans are now worse than that of goldfish. Smartphones have turned our brains to a mushy pulp and we’re incapable of concentrating on actually looking at content at all.
But hang on – let’s not do the human race a disservice.
One big, number crunching study from Moz has also shown that long form content consistently gets shared more than shorter content, suggesting that we’re able to concentrate a bit after all.
So, with that in mind, how come so much content is ignored?
The blunt answer is that it’s not very good.
And one of the reasons much of it isn’t any good is that it just doesn’t have any impact.
We’re back to attention again. Good content – whether it’s long, short, medium-sized, on screen or in print, needs to get someone’s attention. That may sound like a simple statement – but getting this right isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.
That sinking feeling
Imagine that you produce some form of content.
And then you go and bury that piece of content in a field somewhere. Nobody sees you do it and nobody ever finds it.
That may as well be what happens to lots of content. It’s never discovered because it’s just not got any impact. It sinks into the big content ocean. Here we find the blogs that are never read, the Twitter posts that are never liked or shared, the press releases that are never picked up by the media and the videos with four views on YouTube – all of which came from you testing if the upload worked or not.
Whatever your message, if your content lacks impact then nobody will ever get to see, hear or read it and it falls at the very first hurdle.
Engage brain – engage people
It’s possible to gain impact by being controversial. Following this path is actually much easier than it used to be, with the controversy bar set much lower in an age where everyone has a voice and many use that voice to complain. Exhibit A: Protein World’s “beach body ready” campaign.
It’s also possible to gain impact by being a bit weird. So weird in fact, that people think your Twitter account has been hacked – or they just subject you to endless streams of mockery. Exhibit B: The House of Fraser #emojinal campaign.
But for brands who understandably want to steer clear of controversy or ridicule, there’s one crucial thing that needs to happen to get good content and get it noticed.
It should go a little something like this:
Work out what you want to say, when you want to say it and who you want to say it to. What’s your strategy? Your intention might be to use your content to educate or to entertain. Or (whisper it) you might actually have an end goal to persuade customers that they need what you’re selling.
Then you go for the impact.
Be bold. Be creative. Be inspiring. Be different. Be clever. Be interesting. Burst that balloon.
Figure out how you want to get the content to people (because the format needs to come after the concept).
Get the content out there. Use what you’ve done to get attention – and keep it.
It’s sometimes said that nowadays “content is king.” And the £349 million that’ll be spent on it by 2020 seems to show that’s going to be the case for a while yet.
But with so much content, not everyone can be king. The majority of content is – and will be – a lowly serf. Unloved, unnoticed, with a low life expectancy, no voice and no influence.
Content royalty has thought behind it. It’s not simply produced and chucked out into the ether. And the thought process has to include getting it noticed and getting attention.
Because when you’ve got attention – that’s when you can really start communicating, influencing, educating and entertaining.
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