Create more compelling content

Five questions to ask your content before you let it go into the wild

The Internet these days is getting pretty busy. There are millions of us out there churning out words and adding them to the growing pile for dumpster diver Google to sift through and select whenever someone has a question. How can you ensure your words count and aren’t just another addition to the heap – especially when you’re creating content with a business objective in mind?

Here are five questions to ask your content before you let it go into the wild…

1) What’s the headline?

If the headline doesn’t sound great to you, you’ve got some worries to kick off with. A headline should encapsulate the very essence of what you’re trying to communicate and it needs to have impact, yet at the same time it can’t lie about what it’s pointing people to – it has to deliver. Ideally, it’ll make sense from an SEO perspective so your work is searchable, but you have to make sure the headline isn’t already overused by other websites, otherwise you’re competing in a race you can’t win. At the other end of the process, don’t forget tags. And don’t raise your eyes up to heaven at me, you’d be shocked at how many, otherwise smart, organisations don’t tag their content effectively.

2) How does this change me?

What are you offering to tell me that is in some way different, challenging, insightful or informative and how will it improve me? It should really boil down to a single, powerful thing or a small number of things based around the same premise that I can easily digest and get value from. If there’s no value on offer, it’s time to rethink your content and what you’re trying to achieve by creating it.

Lists of stuff (yes, like this one!) are all very well, by the way, but you can overdo it. We like list posts, we all do – but a list a day is not the well balanced way. Mix it up and look at different ways to get your point across, different viewpoints and presentations.

3) Will I share it?

Content made for your consumers to share is your ultimate goal. You want people talking about you, offering your insights and experience on to others, thereby giving you their effective endorsement. Remember how hard PRs used to try for endorsement in the good old days? Well, you’re still aiming for it, but in the form of sharing. If your content isn’t shareable, it’s back to the drawing board. Why would I share this? Is the one question you need to ask when you’re reviewing any proposed content offering.

4) Is this the best format?

Could this be better expressed as a video? An infographic? Even better – could we consider versions of it across a number of formats? Have we got something so good we can discuss it in more depth on video, headline it on Twitter, outline it on Facebook and get to grips with it in a blog post?

5) What’s the call to action here?

Whether it’s a standalone opportunistic ‘hit’ or a carefully planned part of a series of communications, your content needs to lead to something measurable so there should be a call to action – whether that be a link to further reading, a related article or even a straight click or call to discuss a product or service related to the content. It could be as simple as a plea to consider a different behaviour, but the point is there should be something at the end that people can do as a result of what they’ve just learned from you and benefit in some way.

Now, if you found this useful don’t just thank me or buy me expensive presents – SHARE it! 🙂

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Read more about content

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Flipboard and the future of content (April 2013)

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Alexander McNabb

About the Author ()

Alexander McNabb has been part of the Middle East's media and marketing scene for 30 years. He's a communicator, speaker, moderator, workshop leader, radio presenter, blogger, author, swimmer, rider, photographer, cook and even finds time to help companies with their communications.

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