Great content should be both entertaining and informative. Oftentimes, especially on the web, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Plenty of content is entertaining–such as cat videos or memes–and there’s certainly plenty of informative content out there–the kind you’ll find on Wikipedia or wiseGEEK–but in order for your content to succeed on social media AND serve as a resource by standing the test of time, it has to entertain and inform people.
What Does Great Content Look Like?
- Easy to digest
- Elicits response
Does that mean writing, images, video, or what?
It’s all of those things. If you want to have appealing content, you can’t just work hard on one or the other. Everything you produce or publish needs to be high quality.
That means you need to know how to select the best images if you’re going to write a post about cool classic cars or be able to search YouTube for the best videos to include if you’re planning on creating a list of incredible skateboard tricks.
How Do I Produce Great Content?
In order to teach you how to produce great content, I need to refer back to what great content looks like. Specifically, the word “genuine.”
Being genuine is the most important part of creating content. Whether you’re genuinely passionate about your business or genuinely interested in talking about your love of sports cars–whatever the case may be, it will show in your writing. In my case, I’m genuinely passionate about great content.
So other than being real, how do I take my content to the next level?
Great content takes hard work. There’s no quick fix to suddenly make your content go from mediocre to amazing overnight, you simply have to put in the time it takes to get it there. Most writers, artists, and directors have the skill to produce amazing work, and know what it takes to create appealing content, yet fall short due to the need to put SOMETHING out there.
If you’re a business, this can mean taking the time (and money in many cases) needed to acquire the best people or services in order to improve your site’s content.
Avoiding the Cycle of Crappy Content
The cycle of crappy content is a serious problem for many, as the goal of creating quality content is lost on the amount of content published.
You can create a million pieces of crappy content that no one will share, but just one piece of great content can outperform months of half-assed work.
What if I Follow the Rules and No One Shares?
One of the worst feelings is taking the time to produce great work and not seeing great results. But it happens. You’re not going to hit a home run each time you step up to the plate, and you won’t create a viral sensation every time you work hard on a particular piece of content.
Over time, however, you’ll learn more and more about the process, discover what your target audience is after, and tweak your content to become more and more appealing.
What Makes People Want to Share Content?
When people feel the need to share your content, you know you’ve created great content. If it makes people want to take the time to publicly endorse and promote it, you should examine what you did to create it and take notes for future content creation plans.
If you’re producing great content, you’ll know because people want to be associated with it. They’re willing to tell their friends “Hey, I’m reading this! If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy this too.”
The Goal: Always Be Producing Great Content
If a salesperson should “always be closing,” a content creator should always be producing great content. There’s absolutely no downside to great content–even if it did not perform as expected. When people look at your site or research your brand, you don’t want them turned off by content churned out through the cycle of crappy content. You want them to see your well-researched, well-written, absolutely best work each and every visit.
By making certain your great content outweighs your crappy content, you’re giving your site a positive great-to-crappy content ratio, which is something I learned from David Spark of Spark Media Solutions.
You Still Need a Promotion Strategy
Content can only get so far on its own, meaning you still need to have a plan to get it in front of people.
Whether that means employing a social media marketing company to get you off the ground, paying for traffic through Facebook or StumbleUpon, or simply getting your hands dirty by becoming extremely active on the major social media sites, a promotion strategy will elevate your content and give it an audience who can decide from there if they’d like to share it or not.
Most Importantly: Great Content Serves a Purpose
Whether the goal is to inform, advise, or make people laugh, make sure your content serves a purpose.
If your goal is to inform, work hard to understand the topic you’re writing about by doing in-depth research. Put yourself in the shoes of a future reader, ask the questions that need to be answered, and then answer them better than anyone else.
Content is still very much king on the web. And no matter how much it changes, quality will continue to be the factor that separates successful content from forgettable content.
So, Where Can I See Examples of Great Content?
There are hundreds of thousands of great sites producing great content, from the largest sites on the web to small, personal blogs written by everyday people. And while I’d love to list them all, here are a few that stand out and why:
- Lifehacker — Created in 2005, Lifehacker documents tips and tricks to make life easier. Dubbed “lifehacks,” these tips and tricks are relatable, simple, and elicit a response from the reader. Those interested in self-improvement will find things that make them go “AH!” with excitement or curiosity on a daily basis. There’s a great mixture of in-depth content and short, sharable tips and helpful videos and other content found across the web. The site has a lot to offer, and that’s why millions flock to it each month and why the site does so well in search results.
- Cracked — While Lifehacker serves the purposing of improving life, many may feel Cracked does the complete opposite. It’s a humor site that often features longform blog posts on a variety of random topics, such as “5 Hilariously Stupid True Stories Behind Country Names.” But what’s great about Cracked is they take topics that many might mind boring and make them fun. The writers do a great job of poking fun at history and breaking things down simply for the average reader.
- College Info Geek — Founded and maintained by Thomas Frank, College Info Geek serves as a resource for college students looking for the tips necessary to get ahead in school and life. He delves into topics ranging from job-hunting help to personal development after doing extensive research, creating massive blog posts that not only go as in-depth as possible, but do so in a creative, fun way. It’s no wonder he was able to pay off his student loans early thanks to his site’s revenue!
All of these sites embody the informative and entertaining ideal I’ve talked about throughout this post. They act as a resource, but have fun doing it. And that’s what people on the web are after!
Watch Wikimotive’s Social Media Team Discuss Great Social Media Content
This video is a part of Erin and Amanda’s new segment on Auto Dealer Live called Get Your Social On. You can tune in each Thursday on UStream.TV or watch the footage the next day on Wikimotive’s YouTube page.