Content: something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts (dictionary.com).
Everywhere you look in today’s media-rich world you see content. Television, radio, billboards, Web sites, Social Media and yes, still printed in newspapers and magazines. Content drives us and we drive content. It is human nature to constantly seek new, interesting and different content in order to learn, become informed or entertain ourselves.
We have grown up in a world of content in a wide variety of forms and formats. Along the way new and incredible ways to curate and consume have been developed, think iPods, and MP3s as examples. In our always-on, connected world; streaming services like Netflix have evolved from simple delivery services to developing their own original content. More recent technologies like virtual and augmented reality, now allow us to engage and interact with content in even more ways.
For young content producers and marketers it would be unusual in today’s content-rich world for one to make a major purchase or take a trip somewhere without referring to information sourced online or through social channels. We rely on product reviews, photographs and video to help us make decisions, often with the best information found in content created by customers or end users themselves.
Students and young marketers have been on the receiving end of content via. the wide array of devices they have grown up with. It is important for them to learn how to step behind the curtain and reposition themselves to the other side of the screen. It is from this here, behind the display, looking outward towards the audience, that they will transition from consumers to creators with success hinging on their ability to fully understand and connect the needs of their target market with well defined goals.
It is important to understand that the Web was founded on the idea of linking related information together allowing movement from an initial piece of content to the next gathering information as you travelled. Early Web browsers were simple tools, not the powerful multimedia applications we know today. Remember, in the early days of the Web, content was published to share information, documents and simple files, mainly in areas of research and education. Commercial use of the Web was still a number of years in the making.
When commercial use of the Web began, the technology of the time limited what could be presented. Contact information, product data sheets and FAQs were common as this type of content mirrored what was requested by brick and mortar customers at the time. As technology advanced with faster connections, improved support for media and effective search engines, savvy marketers began to ply their trade online. This move resulted in a boom of exceptional content, but with good came the bad. Less than scrupulous players began to craft content designed to work search algorithms in order to achieve higher rankings, the result being than stellar content flooding the Web. These techniques worked for a time but the noise quickly overpowered value again quality content prevailed.
Consumers demand substance, useful information and details about benefits over lists of features or empty commentary. While this has been the trend with Web sites; video sharing platforms like YouTube have become increasingly counted on as sources of content beyond just entertainment. Recent changes to advertising models have (arguably) put a focus back onto quality content over that produced just to soak up views and generate advertising revenue.
In conclusion, content is King, this has been true since the beginning of the Web and it is not likely to change any time soon. Research and understand your target market, set goals for your content that align with their needs. Stay away from get-rich-quick schemes that promise to jump the SEO queue. Even if they work in the short-term, visitors will likely be disappointed and may leave never to come back. Continue to produce content that adds value, helps us learn and of course provides us with a variety of paths to branch out and continue our journey across the Web.