The C-Word, Content.

There comes a point in every digital project when someone uses the ‘C’ word. Content. The content ‘C’ word is a bit like the other ‘C’ word, but ruder, and no one wants to say it.

The conversation usually starts with arms crossed and the look of, ‘You can’t tell us anything we don’t already know because we’re SO all over this.’ And yet, when I ask what populates those many and varied digital platforms, the room either goes quiet, or just stays quiet.

“So, your Facebook community’s active and growing?”

“Umm, actually we’re not sure what to do with Facebook for business.”

“Oh. But Pintrest’s growth is stellar, your brand’s benefiting from that presumably?”

“Well no. We’ve got the account, but, eh, well, you know…”

“Right. So look, what have you got?”

“A website.”

“Good. And that’s a social, interactive, dynamic, community hub is it?”

“Eh, no. There’s a blog. And stuff no one reads.”

The issue isn’t the tools, the opportunity, or even the appetite for discovery.

Clients are perfectly happy to adopt platforms and channels like medals of honour – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pintrest, Website… The issue is content.

Originating good digital content is just part of the challenge. A 2-hour video of ‘Sir’ is of limited value if the customer community has the attention span of a drunken meth-head. It’s worse if the audience doesn’t even use video (or Facebook, or Pintrest or Twitter…) as their chosen channel of engagement. It never ceases to amaze me how few companies take the time to locate their online audiences before launching platforms.

But the ‘where’ is still outweighed by the ‘what’. What content will the brand produce and communicate? And the ‘what’ is then eclipsed by the ‘what next’. The under resourced and over committed social media function is constantly chasing the next piece of content. The time consuming, painful and often expensive investment in content creation is gone – pfffrttt – in as long as it takes to refresh the screen.

I would therefore offer two pieces of content advice before our next meeting. I’m hoping that your advance consideration might move us beyond the blank stares and/or the defensive rejection.

The first is this: Other people produce very good content, often better than yours. You should use it. Creating content is only part of your strategy. Knowing about and sharing quality content with your audience is not only ‘social’; it greatly improves the perception of your brand and extends your reach. Bask in the reflected glory of others (and take the pressure off your own production schedule). When you eventually get your shit together, others may even pay you the same compliment.

The second is to recycle your content.

Painful as it may be to hear, no one is sitting waiting for your next tweet. When you publish your content, only a fraction of your audience will engage with it immediately.

Your message and content has been carefully crafted and has taken time and money to produce, so don’t waste it. Find other times, places and ways to re-communicate. Use all the tools you have available. Re-edit, recreate, repurpose and reinforce your message. It’s only when you’ve exhausted the channels of communication for one piece of content that you need to worry about the next.

Content is the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. And again. And again…

Scot McKee