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Content with intent: Content for content’s sake

This last look into content with intent will take a look at a “strategy” that I see as more of a “strategery.” (Do you remember President George W. Bush’s often hilarious re-positioning of certain words?) I call it creating content for content’s sake or the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” approach. It’s a less desirable way to approach content, but it is becoming more and more popular due to the likes of content farms like Yahoo’s Associated Content, independent Demand Media, and others, such as

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There is a notion that I believe was born through the success of spam in the search engines that if you produce content that is keyword- and traffic-focused then you will eventually rank in the search engines and reap the rewards. Great in theory but not so much in practice if you are a real business.
Here’s why.
Real businesses don’t cry wolf – If you intend to create, re-purpose, or scrape any content that you can find that is even remotely related to your business, just so you can get search engine visibility, then you are not a long-term thinker. In fact, I would say that you aren’t thinking much at all. Businesses that produce too much information start to appear spammy and scattered. This does not instill confidence in customers and prospects. In fact, it is more likely to confuse them and push them away. Content for content’s sake does not help a business that is trying to be a true influencer in their industry. In fact, it makes you look like the little boy who cried wolf, because when you actually have something important to say, no one will be able to see it through all the other drivel you have produced.
Real businesses use real content strategies – Content strategies don’t have to be long drawn-out documents that map out every little piece of content and the exact reason it is being created. Of course, they can be, but most people don’t have the luxury of the time required to do that. Content does need to have some forethought, though. I prefer to look at content on a project-by-project basis. Now, some will balk at that idea because it allows for too much flexibility. I would argue that I would rather have flexibility than be inflexible around a specific calendar that needs to be produced.
Why? It’s simply because we live in a fluid world that is constantly changing, and we need to be able to respond to current conditions. Planning too far in advance can kill creativity and the ability to look like you are truly current. It’s good to plan but, unless there is real flexibility built into the plan, I wouldn’t plan too far in advance.
Real businesses use restraint – Flooding the market with anything is never a very good idea. It’s like printing money. It sounds like it might help but it usually just devalues everything else because it’s no longer special. Content is the same way. It’s a currency of sorts for your business. Spend it wisely and don’t get yourself in debt. In other words, don’t just look at content as a volume business. It’s a quality business. It always has been. Businesses need to put that thinking into their content creation from the beginning in order to prevent a bad case of content overkill.
Real businesses have intent – Your content should have real and obvious intent to create value for your readers. If not, you might be wasting a lot of time and energy for very little return. I run into this at times myself. I write and create but realize that I was doing this more for myself than for my audience. That’s not a good way to go. Be intentional and even create a little less if it means keeping quality standards high. Very few, if any, people can create a lot of quality content on a consistent basis. In fact, there are many prolific content creators that might serve themselves well with letting up on the content gas pedal to ensure that the quality doesn’t suffer.
So, when it comes to content, how does your company use it? Do you use content to inform? To educate? To entertain? To validate? To re-create? To populate?
Whatever you do, make sure you are creating. Standing still in today’s marketplace will not serve you or your customers well at all. Whether you like it or not, content is moving at the speed of the Internet so “All aboard!”

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