What’s the real purpose of content?
We talk so much about content.
We talk about content marketing, content creation, content promotion and other stuff around content.
We see content everywhere around us. We see content on our smartphones, on our tablets, or on our laptops. We create content and we consume content.
We love to consume content early in the morning when we wake up and we drink our coffee. Then if you are a creator, you love to sit down at your desk, open your laptop and start creating. Maybe you write a blog post or maybe you edit a video or record a podcast. You are creating content.
But if we think about this – what’s the real purpose of the content?
What’s the real purpose of the content we are creating right now? Besides KPIs. Besides business-driven needs.
Thinking about the real purpose of content helped me create this circle.
The kind of circle we need to think about every time when we create content.
So, if you are a content creator, if you are a marketer or if you want to create content for the sake of business or just communicating your own ideas, this is the kind of cycle you want to think about.
This golden circle has 6 important elements:
- Creating content
- Collecting ideas
- Communicating the vision
- Connecting people
- Collaborating (in/with organizations)
- Creating opportunities.
The definition of the Content Effect.
Everything is content
And everything starts from content.
Preachers create content. Business leaders create content. Instagram influencers create content. Mothers create content. Politicians create content.
We are all creating content because that’s what we love to do. We learned this since we were children and we drew that awesome house with a yellow sun, blue sky, and a green tree. We are creating content because stories are in our DNA and because we need content to communicate and keep the world moving.
We are content-driven people. We create and we consume content.
We create content to communicate with each other and we consume other people’s content on these social media platforms.
We create content by sending a photo or we consume our friends’ messages.
Books are content. That podcast you just listened to is content. This article you are reading right now is content. Everything you see around you has a content foundation.
Even those Terms & Conditions that nobody is reading is still content.
Enterprises are using content to communicate their ideas. Businesses are using content to hire new people. Writers are using content to communicate their ideas and their stories.
I believe that content was, is, and will be the core foundation of our communication. We can’t communicate with each other if we don’t create content.
If I send an email, that’s content. If I send an audio message, that’s content. If I take a photo and send it to my private group with my close friend, guess what? It’s content.
But why is content so important?
Is it only to communicate with each other? Is it to only do marketing and connect with other people around us?
The second element of the Golden Circle of Content is Collecting Ideas.
1. Content Helps us Collect Ideas
We need inspiration in our life. And sometimes, this inspiration can come from the books we read, from that special documentary we watched or even from an interview we just heard on a podcast.
Inspiration gives us ideas. Ideas we can use to create more content. Ideas that inspire us to make something in our life.
I love reading books. However, I’m not that type of reader who just sits down and reads that book and only gets up after 3 hours of laying there. I’m the kind of reader who sits down with a coffee, a pen in my hand and I make the book my personal journal. I love outlining, writing new ideas that pop up my mind while reading the book. I sometimes even write down questions just because I think questions can lead to some new ideas or directions. That’s also a good strategy to never lend my own books.
Reading books is like consuming other types of content. And this content helps me collect new ideas. New inspiration and new thoughts on a certain topic.
People are searching for books that leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs or Pablo Picasso read while they were doing their jobs. People want to know what kind of content they were consuming while they created their legacy. Because from those books they got the inspiration that helped them collect the ideas that made them who they were then and create that legacy.
Ideas help us create something. A simple idea helped Steve Jobs create Apple. A simple idea made Michael Jordan play basketball. A simple idea made Rick Warren write the Purpose Driven Life book.
Content helps us collect ideas. Ideas for our day to day living. Ideas for our personal, professional, or spiritual life. Ideas that help answer our questions.
We consume content to get new ideas. We create content to get new ideas.
Again, do you see how important content is?
These ideas, when connected, can be effective and sometimes they can behave as vision.
2. Content Helps us Communicate Visions
When Simon Sinek stood up in front of the TEDxPuget Sound he started his speech like this: “How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?… For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition” and then he moves forward and he starts talking about the characters he mentioned in his book “Start With Why” and points out the 3 questions: Why? How? What?
Simon Sinek wrote the “Start With Why” in 2009 a book that was sold in 2016-2017 in around 171.000 paperback copies and received around 5000 reviews and lots and lots of pages of comments on Amazon.
Simon’s book was not a million hit bestseller and it didn’t get featured on New York Times’ bestsellers list but he inspired hundreds and thousands of leaders from all around the world.
In an interview for Call Fussman, he said that he doesn’t care about the sales – he cares about momentum. This is how Simon’s defines success.
And, looking at what Simon is saying is important for the present situation of content creation. After he collected the ideas, he used his book to communicate his vision.
A vision that more and more people are connecting with. A vision that is spreading from one person to another.
This is what content can do with a book. This is what content can do with a podcast. This is what content can do with a speech or a blog post.
It doesn’t matter the form of the content. When you collect the right ideas, put them together, and communicate the vision they inspire and you’ll be on the right track.
This is what every content creator should keep in mind: to create communities around an idea, to create communities based on their interest.
3. Content Connects People
I’m a pure marketing individual, but I’m a content creator as well. I love creating content! That’s why I also talk so much about it. And I found out on my own that content connects people.
After I launched my podcast and published over 60 episodes, I decided to start a Facebook group. I created that group based on my brand and called it “Katai’s Podcast Listeners”. At that moment, I thought that, if they like my podcast, it automatically meant that they would want to be in a tribe attached to my name.
But people are not interested in brands.
As Seth Godin said in his book “Tribe”, “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea”.
This is why, before I started to be a leader to this group, I should have helped them connect around an idea.
So, I changed the entire Facebook group name, rules, goals, and everything. I changed it to be focused on podcasting, on how to do better podcasts, what podcasts others are recommending, and so on. The new group started to gain more interaction, more traction, and more people joined it.
It was a group created based on an idea. The idea of podcasting connected those people. The idea of content created a group and connected the people in it.
What’s more, I saw many people connected with each other. Some asked, others answered. Some people showed new ideas and experiments and others watched and learned.
“Tribes are about faith – about belief in an idea and in a community. And they are grounded in respect and admiration for the leader of the tribe and for the other members as well”, Seth Godin also said in his book, “Tribe”.
Just look at the leaders around you. They are all created to get inspiration (collect ideas) that were put together (communicate vision) that created tribes (connected people). Just look at Rick Warren, Lebron James, Kanye West, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others.
And after people connect with each other, they help organizations move forward.
4. Content helps Organizations Collaborate
People around us are all part of organizations. And when I say “organization” I include every community that shares a common belief, every community formed under a name, a vision, under a cause or around a brand. These organizations can be companies, they can be movements, churches, they can be situations.
And when a specific person connects with another person on a platform where they consume that content, they can start briefing ideas, communicating values, asking questions, finding answers, and moving mountains.
The COVID-19 pandemic was – and still is – a very hard time to get through. Many people lost their jobs. Fathers and mothers lost their jobs from one day to the other and now they have to stay at home, find a solution, and keep their families together and alive. Others found themselves working from home with nobody around them. Others were alone in their homes with no job to do.
Companies saw this opportunity for example, ConvertKit, an email marketing company who offers customizable sign-up forms and landing pages to attract more email subscribers, launched a project during the pandemic, called The Creator Fund.
Nathan Barry and his team established a $50.000 fund to help creators in need from all around the world. They received over 16,000 applications and partnered up with other companies who helped them raise over $180.000.
All creators had to do was to apply to this project, write down their needs (medical, childcare, housing or grocery needs) and send ConvertKit their invoice, and they got the maximum $500 fund via PayPal.
And people behind the companies like Teachable, Thinkfic, Moment, and Digital Marketer co-sponsored The Creator Fund project.
People behind these companies saw this content on the internet, maybe on Twitter or Facebook and they aligned their vision with ConvertKit’s. They wanted to connect and make a change around them in those hard and uncertain times.
This is the power of collaboration between organizations.
5. Content Creates Opportunities
Every time we have the opportunity to be better at doing something or to reach our goals, we embrace that opportunity. Sometimes it’s an uncertain call and you don’t know if it will work or not. That’s why it’s called an opportunity. You take the risk and you see only later if it works or not.
For me, content created tons of opportunities. Maybe one of the biggest opportunities was revealed to me several years ago when someone from Bannersnack reached out to me and asked me if I can do for this company what I was already doing, create content and promote the product in the industry. He reached out to me because he saw my projects, read my articles, and felt the passion I put in my work.
I strongly believe that content can create opportunities. And not only from a personal perspective, but also from an organizational perspective.
Content gave me the opportunity to work closely with Andy Crestodina from OrbitMedia, an award-winning Chicago web design firm with millions of dollars in revenue.
I wanted to create a content marketing campaign for Bannersnack where I could reach out to bloggers and content marketers and see how they use visual content on their blogs. So, I talked with Andy and asked if he wants to jump in and help me with this project. He accepted and we started working together collecting all the data we needed from these content creators.
We collected the data, put it together in an article, and published the entire co-marketing project on our website. And this was a huge hit because we got tons of web traffic, social media shares, and furthermore, it gave me the chance to partner up with Andy. Since then, we have been helping each other every time we can.
Companies are working together because the people behind these companies want to create opportunities to partner up with each other and reach their goals.
There are so many opportunities content can create for organizations to work together.
And many of these opportunities are natural and obvious co-marketing collaborations that organizations must embrace.
One of the most impressive examples is the partnership between Red Bull and GoPro. They announced in 2016 a global exclusive partnership. GoPro teamed up with The Red Bull Racing Team to create F1 racing content.
As Nick Woodman said in an article for FastCompany article about this partnership, “the world of Red Bull is often captured with GoPro technology, and GoPro marketing storytelling often features some inspiring humans who also happen to be Red Bull athletes. What’s exciting about the official nature of our partnership is that it allows us to do a better and broader job of what we’ve been doing for years, and more aggressively scale our content strategy, leveraging one another to produce a higher volume of more compelling, more inspiration content, and distribute it across our individual networks in ways we’ve never been able to before”.
But it’s not only about content. These kinds of opportunities and collaborations can help organizations reach out to new communities, new fans that in the end, allow them to come up with new features and innovations.
Just think about the most innovative content marketing production company Red Bull Media House who is working with one of their community’s most used content creation tools. It’s like creating content for your audience from their own perspective, with their own point of view and by their own tool of choice.
“Together Red Bull and GoPro may be one of the most exciting storytelling and marketing platforms that have ever been able to bring advanced technology to market,” Woodman said for FastCompany.
And, if we look at this opportunity between these 2 organizations we can clearly see that apart from the results for the brand, product innovation, and business, there is also the outcome that drives more fans and clients to their product, content.
They create more content on more platforms so more people can see it, getting interested in their product and they buy it.
In conclusion, I want to let you sit on this idea.
Content helps collect ideas. People put them together in a vision that is communicated to the targeted audience. These people connect with each other and start collaborating between organizations. And these organizations create more and more content.
Why is content important?
Because it’s more than just text, photo, video, or audio. Content connects people. Content creates a platform where people can share their vision, connect, and collaborate for something bigger we can think. And it will always start with content.
And that’s the Content Effect.