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What Is Content? Types and Channels

What Is Content? Types and Channels

People are creatures of habit. When it comes to content creation, we usually stick to one type of content and ignore everything else. But the truth is, incorporating different kinds of content into your strategy can help you reach a wider audience and spread your brand across several channels. In this blog post, we'll talk about different types of content and how you can use them.

Has it ever occurred to you how vague the word “content” is? Technically, content is everything you create and publish. Blog posts, website copy, videos, tweets, Facebook ads—all of this is content.

People use content to do marketing. They’ve been doing it since the 1950s, even though they didn’t attach the word “content” to the word “marketing” back then.

All marketing is “content marketing” because all marketing uses content. Only in the 50s, they didn’t have the internet. Now we have the internet, and it turns out to be the best channel for transmitting a message to an audience with the purpose of moving this audience down a sales funnel.

Think of content as a container for transmitting a marketing message. This container can take many forms: a video, a blog article, an Instagram post, a podcast episode. Whatever form a content container takes, it should have a clear purpose, target a well-defined audience, and get spread across one or multiple channels to reach that audience.

Content consists of five core elements.

  1. Message 
  2. Purpose
  3. People
  4. Form
  5. Channel

Message

What are you communicating? 

Before creating content, you need to ask yourself: What is the most important idea that my audience needs to know? Information that you're communicating needs to give some value to your audience and feel organic to your brand. It should be thoughtful and deep. There must be some novelty and your own thoughts in the content. 

Whether you're writing a blog post or filming a video, any piece of content needs to stimulate constructive thoughts and even actions in readers and help them build a point of view.

A reader must clearly understand what you're trying to say and what you rely on when you're building your arguments. They must be aware of your position on a given subject. 

When it comes to great content, a message is what makes all the difference.

Purpose

Why are you creating this? 

Put another way, what do you want your audience to think, feel, and do? Defining the purpose of content before you start working on it directs your thinking and writing.  

Do you want to get people to accept your idea? Acquire a tool you told them about? Or maybe solve their problem using your solution? Depending on what you want to achieve, you should choose the type of content that best helps you achieve it. 

People

Who are the people you want to reach? 

One of the biggest mistakes content creators make is creating content without fully considering and even understanding their audience. Before you put a pen to paper, you need to clearly identify the people you want to reach, their needs, and their problems. 

I'm a big fan of jobs to be done, a strategy for creating content that people want to read. I've talked a lot about it in my video "How to Find Killer Content Ideas Relevant to Your Audience." Make sure you check it out.

Form

What form do you want to wrap your content into?

Wait. Let me guess. Of course text. Most content makers prefer text. It's the easiest and most accessible form of content. And that’s the basis for other types of content such as video, audio, or even graphics. 

Text 

The textual content includes:

  • Blog post – any article that's published in the blog section of a website.
  • Case study – a page on the website that breaks down the process you went through with a client to help them achieve the results they were seeking. It usually includes 3 sections: problem, solution, and result. Case studies are very important for lead generation.
  • Whitepaper – an in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution. A whitepaper is an example of gated content used to generate leads by capturing emails in exchange for a whitepaper and using these emails for lead nurturing. 
  • eBook – a long-form extended guide on some topic. It has a similar purpose as a whitepaper – to capture leads. But some ebooks can also be standalone products that you can sell on your website.
  • Email newsletter – emails that you send to your subscriber list with the purpose to inform them of your latest news or tips, or sell your products or services. 

Audio

Audio content includes audiobooks and podcasts which have significantly grown in popularity over the recent years. It's easy to see why: You don't have to set aside time to listen to a podcast. You can do it while washing the dishes, driving, exercising, and even working. 

Video

When it comes to videos, you're watching one right now. YouTube is a perfect place for content creators. It's not simply a video hosting website. It's a search engine. People come to YouTube to look for information just like they do on Google. If you want to get a larger audience for your blog, you need to consider YouTube.

Other than videos on YouTube, a webinar is another type of video content that you can produce. A webinar is a video presentation, workshop, or lecture. You can use webinars to educate your audience on a specific topic, showcase your products or services, or train your employees if you have a remote team.

Images

Any concept and information can be represented graphically and shared on social media. You can use images and infographics to get more visibility for your content on visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.

Other forms of content also include: 

Presentations that get shared on platforms like Slideshare.

Quizzes and polls. These are highly engaging and attractive forms of interactive content. You can check out lots of quizzes on BuzzFeed. Here is another example: Sally Hogshead who wrote the book on brand fascination has an interesting quiz called the Brand Fascination assessment. I'm sure it helped her attract lots of people to her book and her consulting services.

Templates are free resources that you can share with your audience. For example, on my website, I have a content mapping template that you can use to plan content by the Schwartz’s stages of awareness. Nira, a product that helps control access to online documents has 317 free templates for project managers. 

Channel

Where do you want to share your content?

Channels are the platforms and media where you share your content. Сontent form and channel are interconnected, meaning channels often define what form your content should take. For example, Instagram requires images, YouTube videos, and Spotify podcasts, and if you want to appear on Slideshare, you need to create presentations.

In general, content channels break into owned, earned, and paid:

  • Owned channels include your website and social media profiles. Blog posts, case studies, ebooks, videos, Facebook posts, emails – you can share any kind of content on your owned channels.
  • Earned channels include all websites, forums, and social media profiles owned by somebody else. These channels help you promote your content for free, but the content is not owned by you. For example, if you add one of your articles to a Medium publication, you remain the author of this article, but you don't own it because this publication doesn't belong to you. A blog post is the most common form of content that you can share on earned channels. Other kinds of content include product reviews and forum discussions.
  • Paid channels include ads on Google, ads on social media, sponsored content, and content that belongs to influencers who you paid to speak about your brand. You can share ads, blog posts, videos, product reviews, and press releases on your paid channels.

I hope this blog post helped you understand different types of content and how to use them in your content marketing strategy.

Watch it instead:

If you have any questions about content, its types, and channels, or you want to see more content like this, just post a comment underneath this video. Don't forget to give this video a Like. I've got new content coming out every week so you should definitely subscribe to my channel for more useful stuff about copywriting and content marketing. 

I also have daily writing tips on Instagram, so make sure you follow me there too.

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