Content is more than just another digital buzzword. Seems it’s just about all anybody talks about these days: content marketing, sticky content, how to write content that engages your audience.
But what is content, anyway? And why is it such a big deal?
There are different ways of defining content. As a student at university, I first encountered the philosophical debate around content versus form: which was more important to our appreciation of art? Later, when I worked in advertising, the debate resurfaced between us copywriters and the art directors who wanted to design an aesthetic layout with as few words as possible. It all comes down to the same question: is it what you have to say or how you say it? The medium or the message?
The answer is, of course, both. The two must work together for effective communication.
It is helpful to remember that any content you put out there in the digital world – whether on your website, blog, Twitter or YouTube – will be the reflection of not just what you want to say, but the channel you use to convey your message.
So, what is content marketing and where did it come from? Remember back when the buzz was all about the information superhighway and the whole world wide web was new? (This may seem like the dark ages to some and just yesterday to others). The internet revolution opened up a whole new way of communicating. And it changed the way companies traditionally communicate with their stakeholders.
Beyond advertising and old-fashioned PR and marketing communication, people discovered there were new ways of engaging with consumers. By providing new and relevant information, telling background stories about people and products, opening up the insider point of view to audiences that wanted to do more research and be better informed. About their health, that new car purchase or the latest infotainment news.
Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering consistent, valuable information.
Perhaps the best definition comes from The Content Marketing Institute:
‘Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.’
It’s about building trust with your customers. Building authority in your niche. And ultimately, that builds business.