Apathetic Content Is Ineffective Content

February 17, 2014

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a pervasive line of thought these days that since content reigns supreme, there needs to be a monumental effort put forward to feed the beast. Meaning, that people today crave an endless stream of content available for their consumption, wherever and whenever they so choose.

To meet this demand, brands are practically tripping over themselves to make sure that they have a steady flow of fresh content to push out via their social channels or whatever avenue they choose to reach consumers. However, most “content marketers” look at the content they put out and see almost zero consumer engagement or tangible impact. That, despite having 15 million Twitter followers, their latest piece of “engaging content” did little to push the needle in a meaningful way. Why?

Well, to put it very bluntly, your content isn’t very good. But you know that. You know you do.

In an effort to always have new, varied, and fresh content to feed a consumer’s ever-growing appetite, many people mistakenly think it’s the breadth of content that matters.

However, consumers are far more sophisticated these days and what really matters to them, the only thing that matters, is the depth of your content. It matters not that it exists, it only matters if it’s good. The days of a social media calendar, with content scheduled and spaced at regular, well-thought-out intervals are long gone. That is, of course, unless the content is really damn good. Like really, really damn good.

house-of-cardsTake this for example: this year alone Netflix has announced that it will spend $3 billion on content. Billion, with a ‘B.’

That’s not because Netflix is lacking for content. There are enough TV shows and movies in their library that you could stream nonstop for 100 lifetimes (disclaimer: not an actual statistic).

What they’ve realized though is that it’s not the breadth that we care about, but the depth. We don’t want good content, we want great content. We want all the best movies and TV shows available in the blink of an eye.

Three billion dollars can buy a whole lot of mediocre content, but it can also buy some really good content as well. “House of Cards” cost $100 million for two seasons and 26 episodes. It wasn’t just a huge monetary investment in content for content’s sake. It was a deep philosophical investment in the quality of content they want to provide to the customers. Netflix will continue to expand its library of available content, but at the top of that giant heap, the company wants to create and own the best TV shows and movies being made anywhere.

And that’s just one of dozens of media companies that are doubling down on quality content. It almost seems unfair to compare “House of Cards” to a 15-second video released on a brand’s Instagram channel, but the fact is, in this day and age, they are exactly the same. At least from a consumer’s perspective.

See, if I have all sorts of content clogging my timeline and have a backlog of TV shows and movies to stream, why would I watch some hastily thrown together piece of blatant content marketing from a brand? The only reason I would is because it is breathtakingly creative. That it’s amazingly well-executed and lovingly crafted. That it was made with the highest standards and truest intentions.

But if it was made because a brand just needed something, anything, to push out to their followers to keep them constantly “engaged,” then they’re dead in the water. Consumers can smell bad content from 100 miles away and they are so overwhelmed by good content, which is getting better and better by the day, that there is no way a brand will get an iota of their attention unless they make something absolutely amazing.

It’s a totally level playing field now and brands are no longer simply brands. They have to view themselves as media companies, like Netflix, HBO, AMC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Warner Brothers, etc. They have to, because that’s the content they’re competing with. So unless you enthusiastically, honestly go about telling the most creative, engaging, and worthwhile story you can, then don’t even bother. Even the slightest whiff of apathy means your content is worthless in the eyes of a consumer.