When discussing content and the web, most of the talk is around generating content for consumption by consumers, prospects and anyone else who might buy an offering whether it is a B to C or a B to B play. That’s all well and good but the “content generation” concept is really just another old school marketing tactic wrapped up in a pretty Internet bow.
What does this mean? Well, in the content generation environment we currently exist in, it really is not much different than traditional marketing and advertising in its mindset. The idea is to generate content that will be put in front of someone at the right time by the right people in the right manner. We just think we are doing something different because now content can be spread through so many different avenues while an ad is “static” in that it resides where it was purchased and that’s it.
So in many ways, just generating content is still leaving way too much of the result up to chance. What if you become a prolific content generation machine but no one is really reading it. What if you are having search engine success due to these content generation efforts but not seeing the bottom line results you had imagined?
It’s at this point that we should all be sitting back and not concentrating on content generation, or content marketing or content curation (I HATE that term but it seems like the cool kids are using it so……). What you ask? What do we concentrate on then?
I think we should be concentrating on generating what I will call “content anticipation”. Let me explain. While I am bombarded with thousands of content messages throughout my week I only look forward to or anticipate very few pieces of content. These are the most valuable things to me because they bring the most value and I trust that there will always be something of true interest when I get some content update from these sources. I wait with anticipation for their next piece of content.
I do that with Sports Illustrated. Still being a bit old school I wait for the new magazine to arrive every Thursday and I do so with great anticipation. As a result, SI has me in their pocket. No one can unseat them. I never read ESPN the Magazine simply because it’s not SI.
I do this with pastor Greg Laurie’s daily e-mails. Because of the subject matter and how much I respect his views and opinions I anticipate his daily e-mails and they ALWAYS get read every day without fail. He jumps to the front of the line each day. I even contribute a very small amount to his ministry each month. Why? Because he is there all the time and I can look forward to, or anticipate, that his next e-mail will be just as helpful.
I do this with Inc. magazine. Despite all of the business magazines out there that are of good quality, I would scrap them all in favor of Inc. because they have created an air of anticipation in my mind regarding their next issue.
The point being is that if we are just caught up in content generation, marketing and curation (Ughh! Please make this expression go away, it’s so over the top industry speak!) then we are missing the point.
None of this activity matters if we have not created an atmosphere of anticipation for what we are going to be creating next. I can read something that is passed along to me and find it interesting but if it doesn’t make me want to seek out the author / creator of the ideas again and again then it is just a pleasant moment amongst the noise. I will have little reason to want or desire the product or service that person is attached to because there was not a reason to come back.
Is this easy to do? No way. In fact, it’s more rare than we think. It’s also something that I believe that many marketers don’t pay attention to because the numbers of people that actually anticipate content from a source are much smaller than those that receive it, pass it on or just skim it. In other words, content anticipation ‘fan numbers’ are not sexy because they are small and that’s a shame. It’s a shame because these are your biggest advocates and promoters. ‘Content anticipators’ are brand and company zealots. They are your most valuable customers yet they are sacrificed in most marketers’ attempts to get bigger numbers rather than a better (albeit smaller in many cases) audience of true fans.
So, do you create content in a way that makes your readers / consumer anticipate what you will do next? If not then you are truly missing the point. Anticipation comes with an expectation of quality. If you have people anticipating your next piece of content then you are putting out quality information. The old axiom of “Quality beats quantity every time” holds true in the content world as well.
Here’s to the hope that you anticipate what I have to say in the future. If you don’t then it’s on me and not you.