Content: A buzzword or something more?
If you look at the history of humans and how long the internet has been a part of human life, it seems like barely a blip on the radar. Even smaller when you consider how long it has been a part of individual households and individual lives. This makes it all the more astonishing when you consider how quickly it has become a part of our lives and the influence it has on us. As the internet has rapidly taken over, things come and go quickly. There are fads or things go “viral”. We have buzzwords that it seems people begin to overuse and then they quickly grow tired of them. With the rise of the “influencer”, itself a buzzword, there also seems to be another word of the moment: content.
As businesses are either catching on or simply further developing their existing content, a lot of people are now working in content creator jobs with titles like Content Strategist, Content Manager, or Content Editor among many other titles. While the word might spread to the vocabulary of those who might not otherwise use it, the idea of content and business, especially online business, isn’t new. In 1996, Bill Gates wrote that he believed Internet content would be where the money was.
What is content
The idea of what content is exactly might seem vague, but it doesn’t have to be. There isn’t one definition or example of what content is, but that’s okay. The possible definitions for content are vast. All of them have some form of content on their site. It might be simple copy and pictures or it might be videos or products or services for purchase. Look at major media sources including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both are newspapers published daily, but they have also changed significantly in regards to their online presence and content. For their online websites, the emphasis is still on the news but they now have many other types of content they include. There are videos, higher quality pictures, and interactive resources among other types of content they offer.
Content varies and can vary significantly from your primary product or service. You also might have what you consider your primary source of content, and then other types of content exist to support the rest like an interactive resource might support an online article. Important to remember: content is not restricted solely to the internet or services that work in support of the internet. A print magazine or newspaper are still full of content with news articles, advertising, interviews, and much more. A hotel offers services in person, but they need websites to help convey their content to a much wider audience via pictures, copy, reviews and more.
Ultimately, the point is that what makes up content varies, but don’t let that overwhelm or confuse you. Make use of the different types and use them to your advantage.
What your content does
Your content should help sell you (or your company) and the services and/or products offered. As mentioned above, there are a variety of ways to achieve this. However, just because you have a lot of ways to communicate this doesn’t mean you should choose them all or even a lot of them. Often it seems ideal to either pull back and offer only the smallest amount of information so as to not inundate people or to put as many nice things as you can to convey that you are offering something of value. It’s important to try to find a balance; for individuals and businesses this will vary widely. One of the most important things to consider: does each piece of content serve a purpose? Even if there is justification, is it presented in the best way to serve potential customers or clients? Videos and graphics seem exciting, but are they slowing down your website or a distraction?
Feedback and testing are important parts of building a website and the content that populates it. For a company, it’s important to involve multiple voices in the process. Even individuals working freelance should seek outside advice and feedback. Both individuals and companies should take advantage of analytics tools, like Google Analytics, to fully understand any users their site receives and to see how their content is working for them.
Which departments should be involved in creating content?
Exactly who is involved in content creation is going to vary whether it’s individuals running their own businesses, small businesses, or bigger corporations. In a big corporation you’re likely to have dedicated teams or individuals that come up with content. Small business might similarly have a dedicated team or person, but during the start-up phase it’s possible you’ll need all hands on deck and will have most of your team creating content. If that’s the case, you might want to look at the strengths of each individual or each department. Maybe you need more blogs and that’s not typically what your designer does. Still, they could write a blog on what the design process is like and everything that goes into that.
While it makes sense to have different departments creating different types of content, and some not creating any, don’t completely rule out the possibility of what each person can contribute.
How your content helps you
Your content should concisely and adequately convey what you offer. You want it to look good, which might mean something simple or it might be something a little more complex. Someone offering content related to media (movies, news, television, etc.) might have something flashier than someone with content centered around software or education. It’s worth investing time and money into content development. Someone running a business on their own or a small business might be reluctant to do so, but it will pay off.