Your Content Must Die. 5 Ways to Bring it Back to Life

Wiredbig If you read blogs and even mass media, you probably have come across at least one headline where something must die. Blogs are dead, PR is dead, marketing is dead, the Web is dead, social media is done and is being replaced by real time, and so on.

I was joking at a panel I moderated a couple of weeks ago at the New York Times small business summit that whenever Brian Halligan speaks at a conference, something dies (it was marketing's turn this time).

And, let's face it, we need to get past semantics. While this war of words is going on, people of the world are all over the map when it comes to the way they use and find information.

Trends take you only so far, before you need to crawl back to talking about stuff others care about.

However, there is something to the way people consume content that speaks to how differently they're stumbling on or finding information about you.

Anderson at Wired writes that the Web browser is only one of the ways we use to get content, and not even the main one. The ubiquity of iPads, iPhones and other smart phones created a whole new way — and market with it. We now use apps to check in, read the news on the go, catch up on what our network contacts are doing, find information, and broadcast updates on what we're up to.

While developing content for these media and for new ways of interacting comes natural to the individuals who spend a lot of time online, it is still very difficult for marketers and businesses to make that transition — conceptually and practically.

How should you think about content, then? Is there a single unit of content you should build from? Do you need more content now that your company has outposts or accounts in more places? Can you find ways to generate lots of content inexpensively?

Take heart, your content may be dead. Yet, there is a lot you can do about bringing it back to life. And it doesn't need to be complicated or too time consuming, if you're willing to play ball. Start by thinking about the following:

(1.) how can you convey your message using stories and narrative that is suited to the different kinds of media available? For example, are you starting to explore video and podcasts? Both forms can be downloaded and consumed on the go.

(2.) do you invest in quality visuals of your products and to document real interactions with customers to utilize both on your site and in outposts around the Web? Think creatively. I once organized a photo shoot for a copper-based natural product to make it look like luxury chocolates.

(3.) do you tell a story, or are you relying too heavily on the stories you hope your customers will tell about you? Remember that you are still in charge of your message, and that it is not your customers' job to take the initiative.

(4.) do you provide conversation starters? At the same time, there are ways to elicit feedback an information that are easier on the customer. If you're familiar with the blank paper syndrome, you will know that people prefer to react to something.

(5.) do you leverage the tools capabilities to your full advantage? Many of the tools we re using today do have their limitations in how we can use them. For example, tweets for chats become tweets for games. In other words, could you be providing a better experience through content?

The myth of needing a ton of content to stand out must also die. Maybe what you need is to rethink the way you package and propose the content you already have. Dust off what's in your archives, mash it up creatively, and see what happens.

Is your content still stuck in the '90s?

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0 responses to “Your Content Must Die. 5 Ways to Bring it Back to Life”

  1. I think about it for myself and for clients like this when I feel things are getting stale, not getting as much response as they used to etc. Am I lazily focusing on what’s important to readers/consumers or am I actually focusing on it? By that I mean, they are of course interested in what I do. Otherwise, they wouldn’t pay my, visit my site, and so on. However, just because I write about or record on what I do doesn’t mean that it is interesting or valuable. If I get lazy, I’m probably creating content about how I do things or how they should do things. In reality, the most lively content tells people why I something and why they should too.

  2. Love this topic. I’ve taken to saying lately: “The only thing ‘dead’ is the ‘___ is dead’ headline.” Great stuff, as usual, Valeria.
    Your fan,

  3. Great post and something useful to think about while I’m developing my own blog content.
    I love when people debunk stupid sayings.
    I wonder if there is also a shift where content can be more niche focused. With the ease of creating and publishing content leading to much more being available, have a specific target is more important than ever for all of us who aren’t huge conglomerates.

  4. @Eric – there is a critical role people still play in making decisions about content and in interactions. Also, it’s good to mix things up, surprise people a little, and giving them something they didn’t think would be useful to them.
    @Joe – the good news is that whenever something dies, a Phoenix rises from its ashes ๐Ÿ˜‰
    @Ben – catchy titles do attract, that’s why people use them. Glad to be helpful to you as you explore your own creative spark.

  5. Hi Valeria! Thanks for another great post. Despite the marketing death talk I believe that the marketing fundamentals haven’t changed – it’s still all about the customer and providing products and services shaped to their needs. However as you point out – the tools which we use to communicate this have changed. And that’s exciting. I’ts much more fun to market these days than in the 90’s don’t you think? Take care.

  6. That’s right Anne, I think in the same way as you..Marketing is Marketing and the fundamentals are there..The art of selling products that fulfill the customers need, ๐Ÿ™‚ or make them believe that it will..and yes it is pretty much fun to market on the Web 2.0, with tools like Twitter for example.

  7. @Valeria – I too have seen articles (even blog articles) that blogs are dead. Fewer people produce content because people are now spending more time in social media?
    Of course my bias is that blogging isn’t dead, but it just isn’t for most people because most people are not committed to continuing the creative venture they start with their blog. It becomes too much of a chore and they give up, and hence there must be millions of abandoned blogs out there.
    But you said something that resonated with me: Have so many outposts. The corporation feels like that it has to play with every new media/ social media toy only to realize that it reaches few people and doesn’t excite their customers.
    I have truly watched Starbucks do this time and time again. Here is one example:
    Starbucks spent all of a couple of months thinking 12 second video was cool, and then abandoned it and moved on.
    Wouldn’t it be nicer to have fewer outposts but each outpost (blogs, twitter) really have meaningful content that customers want to see?
    Hey, and long live blogs! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. @Anne – I think customers are much more advanced than marketers and organizations when it comes to using different tools to communicate. And no, the fundamentals have not changed.
    @Eric – glad to see I did.
    @Eva – thank you for stopping by.
    @Melody – tactical approaches look like that: outposts everywhere, whether that makes sense for a company or not. And testing is good, however, you need to stick with something a little while before you know if it will generate interest. I’m a fan of picking what you can stick with and making it work.

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