10 Questions For Every Piece Of Online Content

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Creating effective online content takes patience, practice and planning. Eoin explores the planning phase and looks at the big questions that go into making content ‘King’.

With every passing day, Bill Gates’ 1995 comment that ‘Content is King’ is becoming more and more true. Content has become a catch all term for all online output, whether you’re a marketer drafting a fascinating whitepaper or just a guy filming a cat playing piano, you’re creating content. More importantly, you’re creating a tool for creating comment, inquiry and shares. These are becoming the most valuable drivers of online business, especially in the B2B sector.

When you come to plan your next piece of content, before you start writing or the cat starts to rehearse there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Content may be king, but if it’s not created for the right reasons it loses all of its value.

What Do I Want To Say?

Every piece of content carries a message of some sort. Even if that message is simply, ‘buy my product’, you need to know exactly what your message is. If the message in your content is confused or unclear, people will lose interest. Which is the direct opposite of the reaction you’re looking for.

Why?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to say, ask yourself why you’re saying it. Are you trying to drive sales? Increase brand awareness? Share your cat’s love of Bach? (That’s the last of the cat jokes – I promise) If you don’t know why you’re saying it, maybe give your message a rethink. If you don’t know why it’s important, what’s the point? 

How Do I Want to Say it?

What kind of content will carry this message most effectively? Does this need to be a full campaign or a quick tweet? Would a skateboarding dog be more effective? (Sorry) It’s vital that you have a clear idea before you start, otherwise your content will come across as unfocused and muddled.

Why?

Once again, you need to understand your choice. Why does that medium fit this message? If you don’t know, maybe you need to start again.

Who Am I Creating This For?

Now that you know what you want to say and how to say it, you need to make sure you create it with the right target market in mind. The target market for your content will be your target market for your product, it’s important you understand who your users are and how to engage them.

Why?

Are we starting to see a pattern here? Never just assume your target market, think about why you target a certain demographic. And make sure the answer fits the previous questions on this list.

What’s In It For Them?

This is the first question your content will elicit from visitors. Whether the thought is conscious or subconscious, everybody does a quick cost/benefit analysis on every piece of content they consume. You need to know exactly what your users will get from your content, or they won’t see the benefits.

Why?

Without laboring this too much. Does the value to the user equate to potential value back for you? Will this get you closer to the goal you decided on at the beginning of this process?

What Happens Next?

The last thing on the list may be the most important. Every piece of online content should encourage a user to take an action. That’s why you created the content; so don’t hold back, make sure they know what to do next. And make sure you know what that ‘what’ is before you start.

Why?

Like the previous ‘why’. Is the next step giving you or your business value? Is it there a better alternative? Does the end result justify the answers to each of the questions above?

The important point here is the importance of understanding your choices. There’s no point in rushing out to create; it might be fun and may even yield results. But unless you understand all the ‘why’s, those results won’t be repeatable. For content to truly rule, it needs to be properly planned. That mean asking questions, most of them starting in ‘why?’
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