December 10, 2015 |

I was round at my friend’s house the other night, and he did what he does best, destroying the relevance of (much of) my industry in seconds. He does this, which is why I love him.

He was musing digital content, citing some ad commentator’s piece on why business blogging and social media in general was pointless as ‘no one gives a shit what you think’. I agree with this, to some extent.

A good deal of the commercial user-generated content I ever read online makes me sigh. Individuals and businesses simply rehashing someone else’s idea and presenting it as original thought is not only damaging to brands, but it leaves you feeling as the reader (of the beginning if not all) that someone has stolen valuable minutes of your life.

You can’t get too precious about this though, as ‘truly’ original thought is hard to find. We’ve been around for a long time now and most of what we come up with, was probably the intellectual property of the druids or something. And we have to accept that as many of us don’t prioritise reading the big history or business books any more, we are inevitably going to have to consume mis-quoted, out of context snippets from the strategic masters as expressed by some accountant’s marketing team.

So to avoid that, good content should probably start with a few questions: Would someone be interested in this?; Is it useful to someone?; Does it entertain or inform someone? If you can tick one of these – then for me it’s most likely relevant for the audience.

At work, being journalists and publicists, we talk to clients about story-led content. This is the type of content that works best across today’s media in all its forms. In a nutshell, as a business you should ideally produce content that someone wants to read, share or if they are a journalist, blogger or social media gatekeeper, publish. Do all of this and even Google will like the content more, even without the links (as folk are starting to suggest ‘could’ be the future).

I mentioned earlier about the bar for judging this, and even that can be simpler with the addition of the old journalist adage, could you tell your mate in the pub about it? Perhaps Google’s next algorithm shifts will be named as such.

Back to my friend then. Ironically, he read his starting comment on a blog, making the whole affair some kind of post-modern tragedy, where art (but in this case marketing) consumes itself.

Trevor Palmer.