Why Your Content Sucks; or, The Future of Content

By | May 11, 2015

Content Marketing is at this point an old buzz-word. The importance of content production is old hat. Many marketers, however, do not see the traffic or conversions promised by such production. Mere content does not by itself attract attention. Content must have the following properties:

  1. Quality
  2. Specificity
  3. Seriality
  4. Consistency
  5. Visual


Blah, blah. We know. But quality is easily faked. Quality should describe not just the value of the content but whether it meets a desire or need in the market. Stock imagery sites are full of “quality” content in the sense of displaying formal compositional and lighting skill. But much stock photography does not actually function to do anything—just like the image above. A perfectly designed hammer is no use when a screw awaits turning.
stock photo of sunset

It is well documented that people ignore content-less content. Eye-tracking studies indicate that people are (subconsciously) very good at skipping over images that are stockish in nature.


Every company is part of an industry. To be part of an industry means that you share a common goods and services with all other companies within that industry. That’s not bad, it is the nature of an industry. That is how you have an industry. If grocery stores were 30% the same and 70% different they probably could not be categorized as grocery stores. The problem is that most companies want to produce content that focuses on those shared goods and services.

People are interested in the specific, unique things. When you are sharing content, is it specific and unique? Who is this child whom this non-profit is supporting? What are his favorite books? What are his quirks? What are the three funniest things he has said in the past year? How does he mispronounce words he’s learning?


This is the most underused criterion of content creation. Creating specific projects provides opportunities for people to participate in specific ways. For instance, every weekend Instagram has a Weekend Hashtag Project. On Mondays, they share some of the best submissions. Not surprisingly, Monday is the day of the week where they receive the most comments (data from PicStats).


A brand is simply a person writ large. Content is the communication in a relationship. People will only frequent your website if there is expected and consistent communication between the brand and the customer.

It is fascinating to compare the top viewed videos on youtube to the top subscribed channels. There is not a large correlation between the two. The channels that have the most subscribers (and I’m sure the most engagement, although we don’t have data on that) are those channels that have consistent content production.


Most of the information we take in is visual. Visual information is processed at an astoundingly faster rate than verbal information. Furthermore, certain types of information are much more easily understood visually. But care must be taken and clipart avoided. Poor visual utilization will do more harm than no images.

Check back because we will write a blog post on each of these criteria in order to provide in depth and concrete examples and instruction regarding best practices.

John Higgins
John Higgins