This was the title of an iconic essay written by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in January 1996 and is the person most people attribute this saying to. In this essay originally published on Microsoft’s website, Gates emphasized the people who win the long game are those who deliver content based on information and entertainment. Per his own words, I am quoting the following:
Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting
And since then, this widely used lexicon has spread among content marketers and the terminally online alike.
Is it necessarily true? When they say this phrase, they’re alluding to the fact that content is the marketing base from which all other elements are built. Content is what the user looks at. You can have the most expensive, beautiful website in the world but if the user doesn’t care to give more than a momentary glance, it’s a failure. Good content is what pulls traffic, guides users and drives conversion.
The Internet and the dawn of social media has turned all businesses from the mom and shop shop to the multinational corporation into publishers. And when it comes to the realm of digital marketing, the self-identified gurus recommend that brands publish more content to attract visitors, increase engagement and lastly, get more money.
You wish. Content is king but it is no longer the king. Did you know that most content that business publish online gets seen by practically no one and generates zero sales. According to a study done by TrackMaven, despite companies investing more time and dollars in content, they’ve been getting less returns.
This is an outcome that a simple supply-and-demand analysis could have predicted, but keeping all the reports and observations aside, a content explosion over the digital space has made the customer the king.
What’s the cause? Blame supply and demand. There’s a lot of content out there so people can pick and choose from. And if they’re choosing something else, they’re not choosing you so that makes the customer the king.
Still don’t believe me? If you google “Content is king,” there are 3,630,000,000 results and an overwhelming majority of those links will never be clicked.
Why? Because most content is uninspiring and mediocre.
That’s not to say you should give up and stop investing time, energy and money in content. What’s becoming clear is that posting content and lots of it for the sake of relevancy will not help your business at all. If anything, it’ll kill your social media following because you are posting irrelevant stuff. You have to do the opposite: create world-class content that grabs people’s attention and turns their likes and follows into potential sales and that matters more than meeting some weekly publishing quota.
Have you seen or created some bad content? Don’t be shy. Let me know in the comments below. Let this be a learning experience for myself and those who look at it.