Back to the Drawing Board

Who here is sick of the phrase “content is king?” Yeah. Me too. I’m bloody tired of it. I’m even getting bored with the word “content.” What does it mean anymore? According to dictionary.com, it means:

  1. something that is contained (brilliant, guys)
  2. something that is to be expressed through some medium
  3. significance or profundity; meaning
  4. substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation
  5. that which may be perceived in something

Hm. Overall, those definitions are pretty vague, but perhaps we can work with them. Of these five, “4” is probably what most of us in the SEO biz have in mind when talking about content. The way I see it, content can be marvelous. Or it can be a pathetic train wreck. Content is not king. Content only earns its royal crown when it can serve a specific purpose in a superb way. Whether it’s a video, interactive fact page, or a sweet visual, good content is not easy to conjure. For me, it’s grueling to put yourself in the consumer’s position and imagine what information would be useful. In the short amount of time I’ve worked in the real world, I’ve been directed back to the drawing board on many occasions. While my skills are still unrefined, I enjoy the challenge of creating something that is worth adding to a client’s digital real estate. It seems, however, that this role continues to increase in difficulty because everyone in the world is trying to do the same thing better than everyone else! Oh, but I guess that’s business. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. Maybe we can learn together how to generate content that’s worth a link or two or 200.

Find your angle, and convey it digitally

I’m a tea lover, and I have been for quite some time. During the winter months, especially, there are few things I enjoy more than a mug of hot tea, a cozy blanket, and the latest issue of Dwell.  One of my favorite tea varieties is Yogi, which is known for its organic blends and philosophical principles. What I love most about Yogi is the messaging on every tea tag. Guys, I get pretty stoked about Yogi’s wisdom; it’s not your typical Fortune cookie-esque, hum drum inscription. Yogi tea tags are deep. They’re truth. And they seriously enhance my tea-drinking experience.   Yogi Tea Tag And it doesn’t stop there. The website has an entire interactive page dedicated to the transfer of Yogi wisdom. Choose your topic (personal strength, kindness, perseverance, etc.) and embrace the rich, ancient verses. Yogi Tea Website Content I love that this brand decided to take its tea tag charm to the digital realm. As their tea steeps, users can browse the website for yoga positions, health tips, and of course, tidbits of wisdom.

Ask for help

I only took a couple graphic design classes in college, but one of the most valuable lessons I learned is to know when to walk away from an idea. Sometimes you think of a solution so quickly and with such gusto that you can’t see how much it actually sucks. Step away from your concept. Present your sketches and direction to a fellow coworker, friend, or family member and ask for genuine feedback. And then prepare to go back to the drawing board. It’s better to figure out early on that you’ve hit a dead end than to keep trying to revive a bad idea.

Find out what customers really want to know

Recently I was on a quest to find a boarding kennel for my dog, the one and only Vince the Intense. It didn’t take me long to find a site that won me over. The design was not up my alley, not by any means, but it answered most of my questions in a matter of seconds. The first call to action I saw was a link to a video. I clicked it and was directed to a YouTube-hosted clip of super happy dogs having the time of their lives. The video honestly provided me with what I most wanted to know: that my precious little nightmare would be happy and taken care of. In my opinion, it was a more effective format than a photo album or a testimonials page. Because I know you’re dying to see it, and because you could probably use a pick-me-up, here’s the video in all its tail-waggin’ glory. [Side note: I tried embedding the video into this post, but discovered that the brand had disabled that feature in YouTube, see for yourself below. And that brings me to my next point:]

Create content that is worth sharing and EASILY shared

Many brands, it seems, have a crippling fear of sharing their unique content with others. What if someone steals it? What if it ends up on the wrong kind of website? What if the brands that house it on their websites do not link back to mine? Content virality is a good thing! We encourage it. When something is not easily shared, however, whether it’s a blog post that doesn’t have a Tweet icon or a video that can’t be embedded, I’m forced to put more effort into sharing my discovery. Would it really be a bad thing to have your brand featured on other sites? No, it’s not. So play nice, folks.

Compare your brand to the enemy

This isn’t cheating. This is survival of the fittest, man. Exploring other territory will grant you a fresh perspective on a topic you’ve likely been chewing on for days. Check what the competitors are doing and see if you can take their tactics a step further. What questions are they not answering? How can you fill in the holes? Research is part of the ideation process. My list continues to grow, but these action points assist me with each new project a even if it means heading back to the drawing board again and again. What can you add to it?