So you’ve decided to dabble in content marketing for your business. Terrific. Content builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships, as you know, build business. The debate often had over content is whether a ton of content is best (for search engine results and the opportunity to share it all on social media!) or whether less content but higher quality is best (people share quality content!). My answer based on experience and research: both.
I’ll start with a simple idea: You can create amazing content, but if you’re doing it once a month (arbitrary time reference – there isn’t necessarily a magic time frame here) then readers won’t come back. They’ll forget about you. On the other side of the coin, you can create tons of content every day but if it’s crap, no one will keep coming back for more. So your goal is to create different levels of quality content regularly. Let’s dive into this philosophy.
What is “Quality Content?”
You can find differing definitions and levels of quality content. Sometimes readers want a long, in-depth piece of content like an eBook. Other times, it’s a nice infographic. Another great piece of content is an article – anywhere from around 500 words to maybe 1500 words. Imagine you’re looking for information on a new bed. As you search the web, you’ll find information on beds with memory foam, air mattress styles, movable beds and more. If you want to compare a sleep-number style bed to a memory foam bed to a conventional, and you find a buyer’s guide, you may download it. You might also watch a video that shows how they differ, and maybe a couple of testimonial videos from people who sleep on these beds regularly. What other content would you like to see?
Quality Content: Does Size Matter?
The length of content can certainly speak to quality. A 250-word “article” is unlikely to tell me anything of value about your subject. But maybe the article has a great picture or set of pictures, and the text just supports the images. However, as a general rule a word-count of 500 or more should get your ideas across in a concise manner. Conversely, an article of over 1500 words is more like an eBook or a couple of articles. If you want me to read that much material, prepare me. Let me download it in a PDF or other document. Then I know I’m in for a little bit of a read.
Of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Seth Godin can write a blog post of 100 words and his readers will consume it, share it and love it. Just remember: Seth has been publishing for years. You’re just starting – follow the rules for awhile before you decide to bend them.
“People don’t like bad content”
Define “bad content.” I say a video where a bunch of people dance non-sensically in weird costumes to a weird song for less than 30 seconds and it goes to black with no reason is terrible content with no point or purpose. Yet millions of people watched all different variations of the Harlem Shake, proving we love bad content.
Bad content is video with sub-par audio recorded on a mobile phone (not in widescreen) with no lighting, yet videos like this on YouTube see thousands of views and more. You can’t tell me we only like great, film-quality content.
However, bad content has a shelf-life. If you’re writing articles that have no sense of purpose, terrible writing style that makes it painful to read and you’re just sell-sell-selling people rather than educating or entertaining them, that’s bad content and will drive readers away in droves. If you were to find an article – back to the beds scenario – that talked about the kind of bed you were considering, but was written like a 6-year-old, would you trust that company?
How often should you publish content? You’ll find all kinds of varying answers to this question. At work, I publish daily articles (twice daily when I have the content), 2-to-3 videos per week and countless social media updates. Personally, I update once a month here – I should produce more but I’m not selling an agency so it’s more of a personal mission. But I produce a lot of social content on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ so I’m still publishing.
My advice on the amount and frequency is to publish when you have relevant content for the audience you’re trying to reach. If you’re planning to publish one article every day but you find yourself scrambling for content, consider 3-times per week for awhile until you have the right content. Keep in mind, the content you’re looking for is right in front of you: Screw Sexy. Be Helpful.
You can also read a good opinion on frequency here: How often should you publish new content?
So yes, the perfect answer for “Quality vs Quantity Content” is BOTH. Walk a fine line between too much and not enough. Seth Godin could publish once a year and we’d come back for more because he already has an audience. You don’t. You’ll need some quantity. Just be sure to sprinkle different amounts of quality in there!