Stop Making Content That Wastes My Time - Social Media Explorer
Stop Making Content That Wastes My Time
Stop Making Content That Wastes My Time
by

So two friends are walking out of a movie theater having just seen the latest installment in the Avengers franchise. One friend turns to the other and says “Wow, I can’t believe how great that content was”. The other friend laughs excitedly and replies  “Yeah that content blew my mind!”. Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? Humans aren’t inspired by content, they’re inspired by emotion and trust me they can tell the difference.

Marketers have been searching for the holy grail of content for decades now. They’ve used google analytics and heatmaps to sneakily watch readers ‘engage’ with their ‘content’ like a cold war era intelligence agency. They track clicks, record live user sessions and embed cookies doing whatever it takes to understand what the hell can keep the view count growing. But perhaps the answer is a bit more simple than we think.

For generations storytellers have used the art of emotion and tension to capture audiences. They’ve understood that humans crave escape; a momentary bliss from the chaos of daily life. Content is no different, and unless you’re answering a direct question, your words better find a way to earn your audience’s emotions. It comes in the form of humor, stunning original visuals, in laughter and in honesty. Each soul devoting time to your words deserves your unwavering commitment to them.

When you’re writing for a wide audience this can become daunting. How can you structure your words to appeal to the world at large? Pixar has some outstanding insights into storytelling and I challenge you to apply them to your own efforts. Now, granted most of their advice is catered towards writing a novel or character driven story but I believe many of the fundamentals of storytelling can be applied to what we do as marketers. Take Rule #22 for example:

“What is the essence of your story?”

If you’re not asking yourself that question before you put pen to paper, you’re simply wasting my time. When a reader gives you their attention you become their eyes ears and soul. Whether it be in the form of a novel or even a social media blog post, the reader trusts you to fully understand your intentions behind your work. Don’t waste their precious attention. Then we see in Rule #5:

“Simplify. Focus. Combine Characters”

Noticing your article growing to a dangerous +1000 words? Stop yourself and start editing even before you finish. Ask yourself what really needs to be there. Are you staying within your essence? Are you remaining true to the reason for writing in the first place?

I’ll stop here for now, but I encourage you to watch the below video series for some stellar insights into the why behind producing:

Now, if you are answering a specific question (as we often do here at SME) it’s fine to forgo emotion for knowledge. But I want you to take things one step further. When someone comes to you for an answer, give them the answer and then another question. Keep them engaged by expanding their scope of what can be asked. A viewer wants to learn about setting up sponsored updates on Facebook? Great tell them how and then tell them about Lead Ads and the potential therein. Use this learning opportunity to its fullest potential, and they’ll remember you forever.


“Each soul devoting time to your words deserves your unwavering commitment to them.”

Guess what you are a teacher, so start acting like it. Prioritize education over analytics. Just imagine if you refocused all that time spent on Google Analytics and put it into making the best educational articles you possibly could. Do you really think things like restructuring your word count is actually going to do anything to keep people engaged? Think of why they’re there in the first place and give them more than they’re expecting. No Harvard professor ever spent half their work day studying which powerpoints gave them the best ROI.

Using the phrase ‘Content’ is regressive for the marketing industry at large. I believe we should use the word specific to our end goal. Are you creating a blog post to teach people about Twitter Ads? Then call it a lesson. Are you publishing a video interview with Jason Falls? Then call it a conversation. It may seem simple but I challenge you to eliminate the word ‘content’ from your vocabulary entirely.

About the Author

Alex D'Amore
Alex D'Amore is a Senior Editor at Social Media Explorer as well as an Account Manager for Renegade . He travels full time and has lived on the road working remotely for over two years. You can check out his blog or Instagram to follow him on the road. Alex enjoys photography, social psychology, and riding his bike for way too long.
  • Kamryn Coan

    Thank you for sharing this. I agree that writers of all different kinds need to make their thoughts appear with passion and excitement. In order for our audiences to be engaged, we must first engage ourselves. It comes down to us as writers to jump the hurdle of content oriented information into more meaningful and emotional writing.

  • Richa Shah

    Nice article, the way it started wasn’t knowing will be concluded so nicely. Writing something that attracts your customer is important, content writing as we all know is at its peak for the field of marketing your website/product/startup etc. Make your content writing skills good enough through variety of tools available at “BetaPage” http://betapage.co/ Try them now!

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  • I think the claim you make is too broad. It’s more important to understand who your audience is and what they want than trying to infuse emotion or knowledge. What if your audience wants neither? What’s it really matter if we call it content or not?! What matters is understanding how our audience reacts to our “conversations” and inferring if these reactions or positive, negative, or other. Some audiences, are just reading your article to get some industry benchmarks or to find some form of data they are searching for…trying to engage them in a conversation will make it more difficult for them to accomplish their own goals.

    Any kind of content strategy should be deductive in its reasoning.

    • Social Media Explorer

      Great point Eyal, I believe there is a time and place for that style of content. This article is more meant to address how we approach evergreen media and how to keep people engaging further rather than using us as a one stop source for hard facts and then leaving once the knowledge is gained. I personally believe if we want our brand’s to grow we have to take a more engaged approach with our audience otherwise we’re a glorified wikipedia page. But your point is very relevant because indeed some brands would find it more necessary to be a one stop information source, that’s just not what I was addressing above. Perhaps in another article ;)

  • Stefan Jaro

    “Noticing your article growing to a dangerous +1000 words? Stop yourself and start editing even before you finish. Ask yourself what really needs to be there. Are you staying within your essence? Are you remaining true to the reason for writing in the first place?”

    Actually I’d say don’t stop yourself. Continue writing, finish the piece and then begin editing.

    I’ve always found editing while writing quite cumbersome. You lose focus of what you’re going to say next and instead you constantly think about how to write what you’ve previously written in a better way.

    So write first and put everything down however you want. Then take a break, return with a fresh mind and begin editing. That’ll probably generate the results this article speaks about.

    But of course, to each his own :)

    • Social Media Explorer

      Great insight here Stefan. I actually tend to agree with you usually, for the purpose of this article I was hoping to have people try out a new method of editing in real-time. However of course results may vary depending on personal preference!

  • Jordan

    Quite the amusing post, great job Alex! I think I share the same feelings as you most of the time haha.

    • Social Media Explorer

      Thanks much Jordan :)

  • Aubrie Ricketts

    Thanks the great post! I like how you exchanged the word content for lesson and conversation depending on the nature of the blog. Aubrie
    aubriericketts.wordpress.com

    • Social Media Explorer

      Thanks Aubrie, it’s all about context eh?