It’s 2021 and content is everywhere.
Video streaming apps, music streaming apps, tweets, podcasts, blogs, and now even augmented reality and NFTs – content just keeps evolving.
We all have our favourite content creators. In fact, there are so many independent content creators and strange corners of the internet that an outsider wouldn’t even recognise our favourites.
Content is king – yes, still. If you disagree, think about what you do every time you open your phone.
Here’s why content is still king and how to use content in your digital marketing strategy in 2021 and beyond.
It was January of 1996. In just a few months, the Spice Girls would dominate our radios, Motorola StarTACs would adorn yuppie belt clips, and the great 2Pac would leave our earthly world.
Little did we know, Bill Gates would pen an essay called “Content is King” for the Microsoft website in January that would live in infamy over 25 years later. The essay opens with Gates predicting content will become the internet’s moneymaker as technology progresses:
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
The Microsoft founder goes on to explain that the internet will force content to evolve, moving away from typical TV, radio broadcasting, and subscription services to content like software, independent creators, and interactive content.
News outlets have reverted to digital subscriptions for monetisation over the last few years, as have streaming services, but Gates was speaking of content as a broad concept. And to that note, he nailed it:
“A question on many minds is how often the same company that serves an interest group in print will succeed in serving it online. Even the very future of certain printed magazines is called into question by the Internet.”
Content is king today because websites and companies with the best content succeed in building online audiences. But we forget that content was initially crowned king because internet content leveled the playing field for everyone.
While Gates hadn’t considered the implications of algorithms and social media (Mark Zuckerberg was only 12 years old in 1996), he did expect the internet to equalise content creation – opening the door to independent creators and small companies:
“No company is too small to participate. One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create.”
Specifically, Gates expected audio and video to take charge:
“If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video.”
There you have it. Anyone can succeed online today with interesting, engaging, and valuable content.
Gates might have been a little off thinking people would need specific incentives to “turn on a computer” or “read a screen” though. (No smartphones yet in 1996.)
Creators do have to compete with the entire internet for attention these days but like Gates said,
“Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”
Here we are 25 years later and content is still king in 2021.
It’s not about pushing the right buttons to beat the Google SEO system or running a sensational headline to earn social media shares – content is about connecting with the right people, offering something valuable, and keeping it real.
Here’s why content is still king and how to make it work in your digital marketing strategy.
96% of consumers don’t trust ads. How many of you reading this are running ad blockers? Exactly.
People do, however, browse organic results on Google, YouTube, and other social media platforms to answer their questions and problems.
Do they instantly trust what they read? No, but it gives you a much better chance than any paid ad. Plus, even paid ads need non-salesy quality content to connect with the audience.
That’s why 76% of marketers report successfully building trust via content:
Visual search, video streaming, podcasting, Google snippets – these are just a few touchpoints where content is king for branding.
It’s all about integrity. Treat every piece of content like it’s the only thing someone will associate with your brand. Optimise images, prioritise quality, and create something truly valuable.
If content didn’t work, would 81% marketers plan to either increase their content budget or keep it the same in response to COVID-19?
Content is easy to audit and adjust when you need to:
You can’t create effective content without getting into the mind of your audience segments – and stay tapped into their online circles. It’s the only way to:
Without comprehensive content, your unique value prop is limited to the products, services, and experience you offer after someone becomes a customer.
Content offers a second UVP to stand out from the competition online. Study your competition’s content and the audience they target. Choose a different expertise that others have neglected.
Dig into that expertise with your content and earn instant differentiation.
Google ranks content in the search results with high Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Why? Well, that’s what users expect to see in the search results.
That’s why SEO in 2021 isn’t about plugging keywords into the right places and spamming backlinks. All you have to do is create high-quality content on the topics you know best.
Use content to show off your authority and prove you’re worth trusting. Stay consistent and your SEO will reflect it.
Most brands outline two distinct voices in their guidelines:
The second voice – the one for most content – is where the brand gets comfortable expressing their personality by dialling up a bit.
Starbucks explains the difference between functional and expressive perfectly:
Starbucks then provides a few examples of each voice:
You can’t blame an influencer for stepping outside your brand’s values if you don’t make those values clear. Sure, you could explain your values and expectations in contractual copy but content supplies examples.
Influencers can see your values and culture in action. Your culture becomes a living thing instead of words on a piece of paper.
On another note, content also gives influencers something to share beyond the usual product promotion: eBooks, video tutorials, guides, informative lists, etc. It gives you flexibility with influencer marketing objectives.
Content is king because it lets you appear naturally at every touchpoint along the customer journey. Google shows how one customer’s query about headaches lead them to researching and buying a specific set of headphones:
See why understanding your audience is critical for quality content?
Note how the customer above jumped into YouTube. Now, Google owns YouTube so it has the best access to a seamless journey between the two platforms. But the point is to use content for a holistic experience across every touchpoint.
Your brand’s touchpoints might include:
It all depends on your unique customers and how they research online.
Content is king in digital marketing and SEO for those who respect its power. Those who don’t respect the power of content see it as a cheap tool to leverage – and that’s what the end result looks like too.
Those that do, however, understand the unwritten agreement: Your audience pays for content with time they can never get back. Once you grasp that and really dig into it, you’ll go far with content.
Ready to create interactive content with integrity that gets your audience excited? Check out some of our latest video and AR campaigns.