“Content is king” = huge lie

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If anything, sales or revenue is king. Content is a means to an end.

Think on it: most “thought leadership” is really just thinly-veiled sales documents, right? I think most people know this by now.

When people talk about “content” as in a show — like something on a social platform, Netflix, or Apple+ — mostly the reason for that “content” is to either (a) put ads next to it, or (b) drive subscriptions to it. It’s not content for the sake of content, no.

This part is where it really starts to collapse for me: Most content is crap. Most blog posts, long-form stuff, etc? It’s ineffective. Harvard Business Review was saying this in 2015. Social Media Today was saying it in 2013. For context, when that latter article was published, I wasn’t even married yet. I’ve been divorced for almost three years. Velocity Partners recently said the “biggest threat” to B2B content marketing was, yes, crap content.

And the fact that we’ve been saying this for years illustrates perhaps the biggest point: a lot of supposed “business” content or “entrepreneurial” content doesn’t actually change or impact anything. There are millions of articles on topics like sales enablement, better on-boarding, better hiring, etc. Do companies by and large actually get better at these things? No. And part of that problem is because all this content creates a lot of digital noise, and people are so busy with their meetings and standups and all that … they don’t have the time to say “This is valuable and this is not.” If anything, the excessive supply of content is probably making things worse, i.e. more confusing, for the check-writers/buyers class of business.

In the last few years, others have come to this realization more and more too: Content is not king.

Content to most is a poorly-executed means to an end. You want to get eyeballs, or put ads next to it, or send it to prospects/leads. We can have love affairs with really good content — informative magazine articles, good books, binge-worthy shows — but the fact is, a lot of us out here are producing absolute garbage. That’s not kingdom stuff. And it’s not impactful either; people aren’t getting better at hiring even though every HR Tech vendor has reams of content on how to be better at hiring.

If anything, content might have become the jester in the equation.

PS I’ve been doing content work for about four years, and …

… I can’t tell you how many times a conversation starts around the idea that someone “needs” content, or “heard they needed content,” without any real plan, strategy, execution, etc.

Plus: in functional organizations, the people that actually do the work — the “Makers,” if you will — do not have time to create content and webinars and all that. So usually the forward-facing content comes from people who are not actually experts but pretending to be experts, often based on a hurried 20-minute discussion with the actual expert.

Most people do “content stuff” because others are doing it, or they want to feed social, or they heard about it at a trade show, or whatever … very few are out there doing it right. I’ve probably worked with 150+ companies and individuals since late 2015. I’ve seen content done in a strategic way maybe twice. It’s not normative. Now, maybe I don’t get gigs with the right places, and I could totally see/understand that. But broadly it’s not “king” level at all. It’s usually a rushed, also-ran process because someone wants to pump something out, i.e. broadcast a message, as in “I’m here! I’m over here! My brand is still doing stuff! Don’t forget!”

As you see Apple and Disney and NBC and HBO move to models where content is designed to sell an adjacent thing, i.e. a device or a connected model, you’ll see more people crank more content in the hopes of selling something on top of/connected to it. Since most people can’t hire Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon to do their “content” for them, the process won’t be so smooth.

What’s your take? Is “content” still “king” or no?

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

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