I was listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast the other day when he equated the word “content” to corporate detritus that clogs up the Internet and bombards people with useless information. I don’t think you can make a blanket statement and say that anything deemed “content” is rubbish, but I do agree that there is a glut of content on the Internet that lacks substance. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish “sponsored content” from content that is published without strings attached.
For example, a story that runs on WSJ.com about the virtues of an organic diet could be defined as content, although a journalist most likely synthesized the information to present an objective sequence of thoughts about this particular subject. Juxtapose a WSJ.com story with a sponsored blog post on the Huffington Post about the merits of an organic diet, and the word “content” takes on new meaning.
But is there truly a difference between paid content and content that isn’t sponsored?
The unsponsored content found in mainstream media and trade publications has often been influenced by the very advertisers (or sponsors) and subscribers that pay for the content to be produced in the first place. And yet, I have to agree with Maron that the word “content” is beginning to smack of something manufactured, manipulated, and ultimately, unworthy of a read.
At PondelWilkinson, we are often in a position to create content, whether it is writing a press release, posting an image on a blog, or publishing a tweet. We strive to ensure that the content we create is substantive; to do that, we think obsessively about every single detail, including word choice, the audience, and the best way to deliver the content.
To help encourage the publishing of quality content, following is a list of items to consider before hitting “post.”
- Know your audience. The best way to ensure your content is connecting with its intended audience is to know who you are targeting.
- Write with intention. Writing a blog post with a goal in mind, a thesis to prove, a point of view to express will help ensure the content resonates with readers.
- Pay attention to detail. Word choice, grammar and focus matter when asking someone to read something, even if it is 140 characters or less.
- Provoke interest. Let’s face it, anyone can write or publish something on the web. Ask yourself if what you are writing is provocative or original.
- Review analytics. Almost anything published online leaves a footprint. Understanding what analytics matter and whether you are hitting the right target audience will help you know if your content is worthwhile.
— Evan Pondel, firstname.lastname@example.org