What constitutes ‘quality’ content?

I don’t believe that every piece of content needs to be a work of art, and yet at the same time, I don’t believe that you should put out crap. Contradiction? You bet, but let me explain.

I believe there are two factors at play that determine the ‘quality’ of a piece of content (note the sassy quotation marks here), the technical quality: how well produced the content is, and the contextual quality: how valuable, informative or entertaining the content is.

The process of determining the 'quality' of a piece of content isn't straightforward. The notion of quality is hugely personable and opinion driven — what one person thinks is perfect, another might think is terrible. It's subjective. Who is right and who is wrong? The answer, unsurprisingly, is neither.

This being said, I will always value the contextual quality of a piece of content over the technical quality, as I believe it is inherently more important. People can forgive poor grammar, a slightly overexposed video, or a squeaky chair on your podcast. If the content they’re consuming doesn’t bring them any value, regardless of it’s technical prowess, it won't hit the mark. 

So should you even bother investing in creating technically great content? Absolutely. And absolutely not. The technical quality of a piece of content usually comes down to one of two things: budget and time. If you have no money to spend on hiring a great videographer, or an amazing copywriter, then you are going to have to do it yourself. If you can’t afford the best, you’re not going to get the best. However, the meat of what you want to say might just be the most insightful thing your prospective clients have ever heard, so who cares if you don’t how to properly use a semi-colon. 

If you want to be fast and reactive with your posts on social media, you won't always have time to get the lighting on that Instagram photo just right. Likewise, is it better to have a 60 second interview with the CEO of the biggest company in your industry whilst they were walking to their car after a conference, than not have it at all? Maybe. Maybe not. What you must ask yourself is: is it valuable? And not to you, but to your audience.

You have to work with the resources you have access to, and understand that there is a time and a place for technically superior content as well as content that is more rough around the edges. Enhanced technical quality makes your content easier to consume; a beautifully constructed video will be more aesthetically pleasing, light on the eyes and make the information easier to digest. Crisp, clear sound will make your podcast sing. A well written, grammatically correct blog post will allow your audience to easily understand your message. Overall, technical perfection improves the user experience and subconsciously builds credibility around you; if you’re willing to invest in creating great content, then you must be doing something right.

On the other hand, faster, on the fly content, shows authenticity. A lack of fabrication builds trust, enables reactivity and results in a larger quantity of content of which you can refine and pull from on slower days. You can tell your brand's story over time with carefully crafted pieces of content, but telling your story day to day requires evidence, and bringing people along for the ride builds engagement.

Effective content marketing is about consistency, and for consistency you need options. You need a library of engaging content that you can pull from at any time, to add value to your audience, and ultimately bring them deeper into your ecosystem.

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