You’ve heard it a thousand times: content is king. But if it’s so important, where do you start and how can you make it work for you? Let’s start by defining what good content is. From one of my favorite books on content strategy, The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane, good content is described as:
I would also add that your website content needs to have one more element: seduction. Your website should charm your users into loving whatever you’re selling. Of course, the goals of your website will determine the presentation of the content. Are you educating users? Are you trying to persuade them to take some action? Are you selling merchandise?
Good content connects with the reader / viewer. High quality, appropriate to the audience and timely. One way to measure if your content has value is to ask, Does this relate to my customer personally? and Is this a convincing argument / post / pitch? You will need to put your critical thinking hat on to answer these questions objectively.
If your web content is lackluster, or worse, nonexistent, you may need the help of a content strategist. A content strategist can help you determine how to present content to reach the goals of your website. For example, a nonprofit website most likely has two goals:
1) inform the reader
2) increase online donations.
A good content strategist will be able to devise story ideas and campaigns that appeal to both the rational, information-seeking part of the brain as well as the emotional, impulsive part of the mind to convince a reader that the nonprofit’s cause is worth donating to and sharing with others.
Different categories of web content
Should you disseminate content through a blog, a video, or on a social media network? It’s a good question! First, you need a thorough understanding of each of these content categories.
Blogging – A blog is usually a discussion or information published on a website. It often is displayed in reverse chronological order so that the newest item is presented first. Often the blog is a display of the opinions of the writer and is interactive so users leave comments and share posts on social media. While there is no one standard for creating a blog, some of the most popular platforms right now are WordPress, SquareSpace and Tumblr. A recent trend is posting to a community of bloggers, Medium being the most popular example.
Videos – Videos are powerful and have been proven to boost web traffic. Embedding video content on a webpage is a great way to increase time users spend on your site. But great video content requires scripting, acting talent or voice over, video editing and production.
Social Media – Social media content is pushed out on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. While those are the big names in social media, there are many other upstart networks (Instagram, SnapChat). The idea of social media is that one user finds a blog, story, or video and shares it with his or her friends. You’ll often hear social media trends “going viral,” which simply means that the original shared post quickly eclipses that user’s personal network and spreads to astonishing numbers.
And this is really just the surface of content categories. As web technologies have advanced, we’ve seen more ways to share branded content.
- Photos and photo albums
- Powerpoint slides
- Audio and podcasts
- Downloadable files (PDFs, images)
- RSS feeds
Identifying Your Content Goals
Feeling overwhelmed by all these platform choices? This is why you must have a content strategy. You need to identify clear goals for your website and the goal of each page within the website. For each page of your website, ask these questions: Are you trying to capture emails? Increase purchases? Generate discussion?
Once you’ve determined your goals, your content strategist can tell you what kind of content will attract more people and the best way to present that information.
Thanks to Unsplash for the great photography!