Content may or may not be king, just don’t confuse it with communication. We, as marketers, can tell beautiful stories with strong, emotional appeals, stunning designs, and irresistible calls to action. Our calendars are packed with crazy deadlines to get it all written, approved, and posted. But it’s all just content unless you use it to communicate.
verb – To share or exchange information, news, or ideas.
Be honest. Are you sharing and exchanging information and ideas or just posting content? It’s our job to keep the conversation going, to communicate and engage with audiences. Do you? This is usually our intent, but with so many demands (and those pesky deadlines), it’s easy to lose sight of our content’s purpose and just keep spitting it out.
Don’t. There are things you can do to make sure your content is working for you. Answer these questions before writing a bit of copy:
- What is the purpose? Know what you want your content to do. It could be anything from evoke a feeling to voice an opinion or introduce a new product.
- What is the context? We are subject to endless streams of content. What does your content mean? Who is sharing it? Why? Why now? Each piece of content should make perfect sense to your audience.
- Who is the audience? Research your audiences, know their preferences, habits, and behaviors, and create content using the language, tone, and design that suits them.
- When is the best time to share this content? The perfect post, blog, or email is wasted if nobody sees it. Experiment with the best times, places, and frequency to share your content.
If you’ve already created the content, test it. You should be able to unequivocally say ‘yes’ to this statement: This content has purpose, context, speaks to my audience, and is timed just right.
How will you know if it’s working?
The short answer is: metrics. Analytics like number of comments, shares and likes, retweets and click-throughs, open and bounce rates, and time on a page indicate certain levels of engagement.
The long answer is: benchmarking. It’s great to know that a single post or campaign did well. You can high-five your teammates and celebrate, but what about your long-term success? Month-to-month and year-over-year comparisons will show whether your content—your communications—is being effective in growing audiences and moving them down the donor or sales funnel.
Don’t fail to communicate
We invest too much time creating content to not use it to its fullest potential. If you make each message count, use it to communicate, and measure its impact, your content will help you meet your goals.