Why I Don’t Like “Content”

Posted 21 MarchBlog, Ideas

I believe in content marketing. I’ve been doing it for a living for more than 20 years. Content marketing tells compelling stories. It creates a strong connection between your organization and the reader. It emphasizes the “show” instead of the “tell,” demonstrating your organization’s mission instead of just yammering on about it. It engages consumers with your brand, more deeply than simple advertising can. It reaches your members or customers where they are, in print or online.

It’s been getting results for a long time — way before it was called content marketing.

But I must tell you, I can’t stand the term “content.” To me, “content” implies that a hole that needs to be filled with something — any old garbage will do. It doesn’t differentiate excellence in writing and design from the content of, well, anything. It lumps your award-winning magazine, podcast, website or mobile app with the flotsam and jetsam of your junk drawer, the ice and slush filling this endless winter’s ubiquitous potholes or the partially-digested food in your digestive system. And that’s just nasty. (As a sidenote, to me content isn’t these hilarious photos, but the stuff that is filling these potholes.) my-potholes-davide-luciano-claudia-ficca-13

Good content deserves better. It should be carefully thought out with the reader, watcher or listener in mind. It should stem from the ideas you want to share, not from the space that needs to be filled. It should be part of an integrated communications strategy. While SEO should be considered, content should be more than link bait. The thought process when planning should be, “We have X to communicate, what would be the best way to tell this story to the audience we want to reach?” instead of “We should have a mobile app. What should we put on it?”

The term content marketing is everywhere today — but that doesn’t mean I’m sold on it. What do you think? Do you have a suggestion for a better term?

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