Good content vs. &$%& content.

michael beckerman, second time around blog, second time around, second time around michael beckerman, the news funnel

In my new job as traveling ambassador for The News Funnel, in virtually every meeting at every stop on The News Funnel World Tour, I hear the same comments from the heads of marketing for each commercial real estate firm in every major city: "We are all about content.” And I nod in agreement, as if it’s the first time I’ve heard this :)

Enough with my sarcasm though. The truth is that I built The News Funnel precisely for this reason. I recognized a few years ago that PR firms (I started and built one) and the media were going to lose their grips on being the exclusive purveyors of content. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see what was happening on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would eventually make its way into the business sector. While I knew it was likely a long and uphill climb to get business professionals to embrace technology, I also wasn’t intimidated by the risk of building something new and competing in this space.

My goal for my site was to become the content superhighway of a particular industry. I saw that while there were tons and tons of great sources of content, they were fragmented all over the place. That created a scenario where it was just too much work for the average non-tech guy, like me and my peers, to go find and consume optimum pieces of content. So I asked, "Why can’t I build the one platform that aggregates all of the content for one industry?" and thus, The News Funnel was born. In the year and a half or so since we have been doing this, we have assembled almost 3,000 sources of content that are being uploaded and streamed to our site daily.

Pretty cool huh?

But, to be honest, I do see a lot of really crappy content out there. As someone who has probably written, edited and consumed more content than most, I do think I have a good handle on what’s good, what’s not so good and what’s truly BAD! Here is what I think makes truly good content and truly awful content.

Great content is:

Digestible – Too often I see really insightful content but it’s just too damn long. Today’s news consumer wants bite-sized bits of news, not War and Peace.

Actionable – The best content is where someone can put whatever they read into action immediately, whether it’s knowledge, a tip or a referral to another solution.

Original – I am all for repurposing others’ content, but rather than just attaching a link, why not add a short commentary on the content you are forwarding? The best content is something that is fresh, new and insightful. 

Honest – People love to read content that also reflects the author’s true life experiences. It doesn’t have to be self-serving, but examples of how something impacted your business personally are the most credible.

Relevant – Good content has specific applications on the audience you are trying to reach. It should impact their world and resonate in the day-to-day activities of those you are trying to reach.

Thought-provoking – Stumbling upon a good piece of content should not be the be-all and end-all in your search for new information. The best content gets your thoughts churning. It makes you want to search and know more.

And now the bad:

Too personal and self-serving – I read a lot of blogs and PR that is so self-serving it does the author a disservice. No one wants to read about how smart you are or hear how great your company is.

Too hard to load – If you are sending out a blog with charts and power points and photos that cannot be consumed on mobile, forget it, you had a few seconds to grab my attention and you just blew it.

Visually boring – In today’s world, there is no reason why your content can’t have some cool, funny or original visuals. A big thanks to Lindsey who helps me with my blog!

Too Stale – It seems like there is more importance placed on having a story that everybody else has just to keep up with the rest of the pack. Instead of replicating stories, good content piggybacks off of them. Too often I see people just posting whatever they can find whether it has any relevance to their business or their industry.

Narrow Scope – Because there is such a “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality pervading the world of content, you can end up reading a bunch of pieces that make you ask yourself, “How is this applicable to my life at all?” Chances are if you have to ask that question, it’s not.

Now that I’ve gotten in my two cents on good and bad content, some examples of sources of where to find good content:

Fast Company

Business Insider

Inc.

The Huffington Post 

Mashable