In only a few short years the content game has changed drastically and dramatically. So much so that what passed for content back in 2011 would be considered terrible today. During those days, content wasn’t done to help the consumer. It wasn’t done to give the client something. It was done as a hook, to draw the client in and to snap them up.
Long Ago, When Content Didn’t Matter…
Many times, content was written in bulk in order to satisfy the demands of the search engines but by no means did it carry forward to be useful to the readers. Software that utilized spinning (the rewriting of an article in a semi-random way by replacing words with synonyms) to create a handful of articles from one was acceptable. Today, however, the entire game has changed.
Content in 2015: A Marketer’s Perspective
Andrew Essex thinks we are living in an unprecedented glory age for content creators and marketers. Essex, vice-chairman and co-founder of the unique, adaptive ad agency Droga5, and quite a forward-thinker when it comes to content marketing, believes that our current situation as far as content creation and marketing goes has changed for the better, many times over.
In a talk he delivered at the 2015 NewsCred #ThinkContent Summit, he challenged us to think about content differently. His presentation made us consider that ads may be a thing of the past and what we as content creators and marketers should be aiming to do is to build on our idea of storytelling.
Premium Content: Stories Matter to People
Andrew said, “We’re not just in the content business, we’re in the premium content business.” Premium content is what we create and distribute now and it’s very much in demand by high-profile marketers such as Amazon.
What is premium content? It’s content that generates a significant change in the attitudes of a demographic towards a product or company. And how does one create premium content? The simple most effective way to do so, is to weave the user a story.
He mentioned an ad spot done by Under Armour where they utilized Giselle Bunchen in a training sequence while her live detractors filled the space behind her. The ad raised sales of Under Armour by twenty-one percent (21%).
Three Key Facts About Content in 2015
1. It’s About More than Just Content Production, It’s About the User.
Content quality is at an all-time high now, with more and more companies realizing that high-quality content is the way they should be marketing their brands. Content production from premium sources allows a brand to capitalize on engaging its audience while at the same time subtly giving them something to think about regarding a product. In order for content to show up in search results, it has to be a pretty good piece of content and the story it tells must resonate with the audience. Developing content focused on the user is the best way to aim for content that ranks well on search engines.
2. What Content Gets The Most Shares: Storytelling.
The content that gets the most shares and the most engagements on social media are pieces of content based around the telling of a story, not around the selling of a product. Although other factors such as the length of the post also affect content engagement, content that is based around a story is by and large the best way to engage your audience because they can identify with a story.
3. Today, Storytelling Costs a Pretty Penny.
Content marketers and creators are also storytellers, but the stories we weave have much more of a cost attached to them than regular storytellers. In the past, as near back as 2010, content writing could be purchased online for a pittance. Even today, a lot of content writers can be found on freelance sites that offer content for next to nothing. But this isn’t quality writing and what they produce is not premium content.
Some companies can spend as much as 10.7% of their total budget to create good content. A company that is serious about its content marketing strategy cannot leave it to a writer who has no idea of your business aims and no clue about what you’re trying to accomplish to create content that engages its core audience. It might happen about once in every thousand tries, but the amount of money wasted would be immense.
What do We Create Good Content For?
Good content should enrich the reader’s experience or force them to look at something they already know from a new perspective. What do we create good content for? To tell great stories. Andrew Essex and the members of Droga5 understand the importance of good storytelling on content in the twenty-first century.
They understand that motivations of buyers have changed since the early, wild days of the Internet and have settled into a situation where users don’t like ads that sell to them, but aren’t so much against the idea of an ad that tells them a story and enriches their life. More users tend to invest themselves in content that resonates with them on a personal level, making these content pieces rank higher on search results.
Story Tell: Don’t Sell
This distinction is important. The old adage that fiction writers get about showing, not telling the audience is an interesting parallel to draw.
In creating premium content that gets and keeps the attention of your audience, the aim is to story tell, not sell.
What we as content marketers should be looking at doing is engaging the audience through the emotions that drive their decisions. The only way to access these emotions is via a good story. So, let’s start telling them!
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!