It’s been said a thousand times over. In fact, I am sick of hearing it. “Content is King.” Overused, but true none the less. “Content” is everywhere nowadays. It’s not only being shoved in your face from every progressive company that you’re actually interested in, but it’s also being shoved in your face from sources that just want your attention (aka, money).

More and more marketers and businesses are talking about “content” and its value, and this isn’t without due cause. Content is certainly valuable for a company and its audience. When a company is able to share its opinions, thoughts, and news with their audience, it’s definitely a big factor of long-term success. When a company has a written content marketing strategy, it allows them to show their audience that they care. It shows they understand their customers and want to help them.

However, even when a company has a written content strategy (many do not), few get it right.

Content is not “content”

When the term “content” gets thrown around, marketers, consumers, and companies alike normally think of blog posts, ebooks, and maybe even podcasts. Some may even take it a step deeper and mention things like songs, tv series, and tweets. Some may even argue that everything is “content.” And for all of those people, I say, you are correct.

But that is “content,” not content.

So what is content?

What if “content” wasn’t really what you thought it was? What if, somewhere along the thin line of education and monetization, the term “content” began to mean something else to some people? Would this affect how content is produced? Interpreted? Utilized? It absolutely would, and has.

The problem is that many people do not know what content marketing is, they just know the “name” of it. Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist, put it best when he said:

Knowing something is different than knowing the name of something

This is a very profound statement that seems to affect many companies and individual in the industry. People can sit and discuss content marketing, conversion strategy, and lead generation until they are blue in the face, but do they really know it? Or do they just know what they’ve heard others say?

This dilution of what “content” is has affected how it is discussed.

Writing useful content

“Ahh,” you say. “I see where you’re going with this,” as you proudly nod your head in agreement. “Content is not ‘content’ unless it’s useful!”

Great! Your thinking cap is working. However, you’re incorrect. Sorry to break it to you.

The term “useful content” is, in fact, a product of the Department of Redundancy Department. Meaning, it is like saying “wet water.”

Water is always wet just as content is always useful. The very definition of content will tell you that it is a substantive piece of information. It is something that can build on real information and provide a foundation for further research and education for others. Useful Content = Content = Useful Content.

What most people think of when they hear the term “content,” is actually just the content’s medium. A blog post is a way of delivering content. Tweets, songs, and videos are all mediums. They are a way of producing that substantive information to the audience. When companies learn about “content marketing,” they begin blogging like crazy. Or perhaps social is their preferred medium, they begin tweeting like crazy. Is this really content?

What happens is companies begin producing useless information. Information that has been told one-hundred times over. Information that is there just to be there. Something is better than nothing, yes, but is that a solid strategy?

Without a content marketing strategy, without understanding your readers, without spending quality time in researching before you write, you’re not creating content. You’re just creating “content.”

I challenge you to take a step back and look at the purpose of your content. Having purpose will guide your efforts. At a bare minimum, it will force you to think about who you’re writing to.

Content is still king. Just be sure that you’re producing real content, not “content.”