Your former boss does it. Some outsourced junior does it. You too want to do it – create (or curate) content, to stand out from the crowd. Trouble is, currently, you’re just a little low on content, eh?
I hear ya. Same here – I read blogs, watch how-to videos, flip through slide decks, download podcasts. Some of that stuff blows my mind, some is self-evident and not worth the time spent on it. I don’t want to add more chaff.
So how do the influencers do it? How do they make content catering seem easy, you wonder.
Ah, the chicken & egg conundrum! Are they influential because of their content, or do we seek their content because they’re so renowned?
Well, that’s a long story. But let me tell you a short one.
Some years back, a couple of friends, tired of hanging out at parties all across town, convert a large yard into a partying venue. They also wall off a lovely garden, knowing some guests would pay to step off the gravel into the exclusive retreat.
It is a high-tech venue. You receive a nametag at the gate and your name pops up on a notice board for everyone to see. Names go up and down with the flow. You can ask to see a specific guest or privately reserve names of people whose admission you want to be alerted to. It’s a novel approach to partying and it works well.
It works like a huge train station, that is – with just as much appeal. The guests who hover around longer are mostly those who have nowhere else to be in life. But still, more guests arrive all the time.
Soon, every traveller, tourist and adventurer absolutely has to drop by, to schmooze and be part of that “in” crowd.
A few renowned guests lends prestige to the whole flock. But on most days, the traffic is so intense that no one can tell who came by and whom they just missed by minutes. Also, there just isn’t much to do, but nod and smile and comment on the weather. No one can tell if the party is great or a complete waste of time.
So the guys get a brilliant idea: to serve food in the yard, to liven up the party. Suddenly, with food on hand, fun is guaranteed. Everyone knows love enters through stomachs and warms the hearts.
Friendly, but not foolish, the guys know it would cost too much to feed so many people every day. Instead they opt for a potlatch party, where everyone brings food to share. Or rather, many people bring so much food that nobody ever has to leave hungry.
The guys hire hostesses, to balance the daily menus and be on hand for any celebrity chefs and famous restaurant owners who might come by. It’s a safe bet: when a pro brings delicacies to the table, everyone wants a taste.
So let’s say you and I have joined the party occasionally. We mostly venture just past the gates, briefly chit-chat with strangers, smiling awkwardly. But we can never quite impress strangers while holding foam cups and cardboard plates in our hands, can we? That’s what everybody who is nobody is doing!
Now imagine if you or I brought a full platter of appetizing food to share – wouldn’t everyone readily remember our names and faces? (And we wouldn’t even necessarily know theirs – there would simply be too many of them!) But wouldn’t we be the talk of the night?
Did you have a taste of Mark’s sumptuous soufflé? Isn’t it a delight? Everyone in HR is just raving about it! And have you tried Maja’s vegetable curry yet? I hear it’s quite popular among her colleagues on development projects.
It’s easy to stand out and be remembered when you feed the guests. That’s what our first rulers did – anthropology teaches us – they fed their tribes well. It’s likely deep in our genes: feeding others makes one a king.
Don’t forget that professional hostesses help all these chefs, restaurant managers, caterers, etc. (whose fare tastes perfect every time) arrange it well, with enticing decorations and elegant tableware. We cannot compete with them – they’re content catering royalty.
So what should we – the commoners – bring the next time we want to join the party?
We each have a secret recipe the we make often, so often in fact that we think it’s quite ordinary. Something only we know how to make. And yet our unwritten recipe always results in an original, wholesome and natural treat. Piece of cake, as it were.
I would certainly not venture to make something that’s not my thing. I would make what I normally make for myself all the time – that simple something or other I can whip up blindfolded. And I would rely on the quality and freshness of its ingredients and on my own measures, which make it memorable, every single time.
It’s exactly the same with content. There’s no value in explaining something that others likely know better. Readers compare it with similar stuff. Let an academic with a PhD in Physics explain the benefits of solar power batteries to us. Even I can tell they’re awesome, but that guy can prove it by recapping ten different benefits. Who would you rather read and whom would you trust more? Him or me?
The influencers may contribute a lot of content, but it’s always within their fields of expertise. They write more (and better) of the same and don’t venture beyond their domains, where they have utmost authority. They’re kings of their own castles.
It’s thanks to the guys above that we can now all be kings, millions of unique individuals, distinct brands with stories to tell. But we don’t really want to know what you think of the next big trend, or of the next big brand. We just want to know what it is that makes you a brand.
The first rule of content creation is to write what you know. Just make sure you’re conveying something you could bet your life on. Something you have already betted your life on. Like, your life’s work, for instance. That’s a fairly safe bet.
Go ahead and write it down. Can’t wait to read it.