Is the material more important than where you publish & promote it? Or is your priority the other way around? Should you worry about where your content appears rather than what you’re actually publishing? Can crap content be successful if it’s advertised in the right space?
A short while ago, Charlie Southwell of the soon-to-launch Screendrip asked these same questions. I certainly don’t claim to have answers he was seeking, but I do think the answers are subjective. I think the right answer depends on how you look at the situation.
Content Is More Important
As humans, our instinct is to judge and assess everything we encounter. Our brains automatically want to identify friend from foe, good from bad, and helpful from harmful. Since the days of cave dwelling and spear throwing, our ability to assess our surroundings and place everyone on the scale from 1 to 10 contributes or harms our chance of success and survival.
When you meet a complete stranger for the first time, you use all the information you receive about that person consciously and subconsciously to form an impression of them. Their bad fashion sense, for example, will influence your opinion just as much as, if not more than, their posture and the way they carry themselves.
By the time the stranger opens his mouth and extends his hand, you are already 80% sure of where he fits in your mind. If he speaks poorly or says something distasteful, it will surely lock him into a lowly position in your mind. If, contrary to his appearance, he speaks positively and impresses you, you’re likely to reassess him. The stranger will stick out in your mind, at the very least, just like lawyers with long hair and hippie clothes or the clean business suit-wearing punk rocker.
Think of your site as the stranger. His clothes are your design, his posture, your navigation and layout, and his words are your content. The hand he extends? Your comment system and contact information. If you routinely say things (produce content) no one wants to read, use, or enjoy, the visitor’s opinion of you is going to decline sharply regardless of where you put it.
The bullshit posts on Techcrunch or the poorly researched content CNN has published in the past are good examples. If this happens too often, it will severely damage their credibility, if it hasn’t already.
That being said, the value of content is subjective; how much content is worth varies from person to person and depends specifically on the individual’s knowledge base and situation. For a small business owner new to the Web, a guide to creating a successful website would be worth its weight in cold. For the Internet marketer who has been online since the mid 1990s, it’s redundant, old news, and wasting his time.
Context Is More Important
Have you ever come across an amazing tool, a great resource, a smart individual, or a wonderful business and thought it was a shame that no one else knows about it? Or, thought about how sad it is that it’s on an unusable or horribly ugly platform? This is a case of bad context taking away from the value of the content.
It’s sort of like handing out $100 bills to everyone who walks passed you. If you were to offer me a $100 bill with no strings attached, you can bet your bonnet I’d take it. I wouldn’t think twice. What’s it worth? $100!
For me, that money has value. It would pay my power bill, put food on the table, or pay my son’s school fees. If you were to do the same thing in the middle of the cow pasture, however, it’s not going to work out quite how you’d like it to. To the cow, that $100 bill is getting in the way of what he really values: Food!
If you were to create a comprehensive travel guide on Antarctica, this bit of information would be priceless on a travel site. This information isn’t exactly widely available, and for travelers interested in going somewhere different, it would certainly fit the bill. If you were to promote this content on the financial social site Tip’d and publish it on CNN Money, however, most visitors would be disappointed in the content, if not annoyed.
Great Content, Publishing and Marketing Go Hand In Hand
The way I see it, you can’t create content without considering where you’re going to publish it and where you’re going to market it. You also can’t decide where you’re going to market the content or where you’re going to publish it without considering the content itself. It’s sort of like trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without bread, peanut butter, or jelly. You have to consider all three, at the same time, by putting each element in priority.
If you want to market in a particular place, you need to choose a host for your content that performs well on that platform or in that niche. You also need to create content the visitors there are interested in and would find valuable.
If you have a particularly great piece of homeless content, you need to identify the right site to host it. You also need to determine which social site or marketing platform that content would do well on. The same can be said for your host. If you’re asked to create content for a specific site, find the right marketing platform and determine which content would be best.
Which is most important for you? Content or context?
October 11, 2010 at 6:36 am | Marketing | No comment