Content is king… but there’s a catch.

It’s been the mantra of digital strategists for the past couple of years: “Content is king”. But simply posting content isn’t enough to engage with customers. In fact, bad content can actually be more detrimental to a brand than posting nothing at all. It appears that in 2014 the mantra needs to be re-written: “Content is king, as long as it’s relevant.”

Content Marketing is defined by Wikipedia as “any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers”. But, author and SEO specialist Jeff Cannon better describes it as “content [that is] created to provide consumers with the information they seek.” There is subtle but incredibly important difference. Successful Content Marketing is providing customers with information that they actually want.

Too often brands get caught in the trap of producing irrelevant content for their emails, websites, blogs or social networks simply because they need to fill a gap in their content calendar. But irrelevant content is by definition unwanted content. It’s noise; it’s unwelcome; it’s spam. With so many brands out there fighting for customers’ attention, brands simply cannot afford to be seen as spamming even once. In the digital age, there are no second chances.

Last week, web-based food-ordering service Eat24 posted a humorous open letter to Facebook ending their relationship and closing down their Facebook account. What was interesting, however, was Facebook’s reply to this post. Facebook’s Director of Communications, Brandon McCormick responded to their letter with this:

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What McCormick is saying here is that Facebook users are more interested in connected with their friends, than with humorous brand posts. A ballsy move for company that relies on brands sponsoring posts in order to make a profit, but was he right? When you log into Facebook do you do so with the anticipation of seeing a witty post from your local pet shop, or a photo of your best friend’s new baby?

That’s not to say that customers don’t want to see content from brands. At some point they have actively opted in to receiving that content – either via email, hitting follow, or hitting like. But this content needs to be relevant to what that brand is to the customer. As consumers ourselves, we need to constantly ask, “is this relevant to my brand?” And perhaps, more importantly, “is this worth interrupting my customers day with?”

You would have all seen those “bet you can’t name a band that starts with S” posts. These are designed to generate conversation and drive artificial engagement. But for every user who comments with “Soundgarden” you will get 5 more than press “hide posts from.” Especially if the brand in question is a pet store, who would it not be better to post a “how to change the water in your fish tank” video.

And that’s the point. Whether it’s a Facebook post, a tweet, an email or even a YouTube video – content only becomes information once a customer views it. Otherwise it remains noise, or worse still, spam. But good, relevant content will indeed create a deeping, richer relationship with customers.

In 2014 content is very much still king, but the real trick is making sure your content is actually [wor]king.

Author: Edward Bell (Senior Creative)