As marketers look to broaden the conversation about “content,” it’s interesting to note that we have yet to arrive at a common definition.
To test this theory, I recently surveyed several marketing colleagues to find out how each defines content. Here are a few responses:
“It’s information you read online or in a book”
“Content” is “meaning” expressed in some format for individual consumption"
“Everything is content…”
This wide range of responses points to the fact that the content strategy community perhaps hasn’t been pulling its weight when it comes to creating a common language we can all use.
Over the last year, a group of us at Ariad have been exploring the elements that define valuable content. We have come to the conclusion that content is comprised of format, utility and quality – FUQ:
- Format. This is the part most people describe when they talk about content (i.e. text, video, image, etc.). It’s the form of the final output that is consumed by the end user, and it is critical to engagement.
- Utility. For content to be valuable, it is essential that it helps the user complete the wider tasks they are pursuing (for example, buying a first home to settle in, looking great at a sister’s wedding, or reducing departmental operating costs), not just the tasks the brand needs them to complete (signing a mortgage, buying shoes, outsourcing technology).
- Quality. While utility helps the user complete a specific task, and the right format puts it in the right place to be most easily consumed, quality is the attribute that makes the content attractive, interesting, noteworthy, shareable.
Now that we have been able to define the essential building blocks of content, it’s evident that content strategy is required in order to create, maintain and nurture content.
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