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Creating More Compelling Content: Five Questions To Ask Before You Let It Go Into The Wild Alexander McNabb, consultant on publishing, digital media and communication strategies shares his advice for creating content with a business objective in mind.

By Alexander McNabb

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The Internet these days is getting pretty busy. There are millions of us out there churning out words and adding them to the growing pile for dumpster diver Google to sift through and select whenever someone has a question. How can you ensure your words count and aren't just another addition to the heap– especially when you're creating content with a business objective in mind? Here are five questions to ask your content before you let it go into the wild:

If the headline doesn't sound great to you, you're starting off on the wrong foot. A headline should encapsulate the very essence of what you're trying to communicate and it needs to have impact, yet at the same time it can't lie about what it's pointing people to– it has to deliver. Ideally, it'll make sense from an SEO perspective so your work is searchable, but you have to make sure the headline isn't already overused by other websites, otherwise you're competing in a race you can't win. At the other end of the process, don't forget tags. You'd be shocked at how many (otherwise smart) organizations don't tag their content effectively.

What are you offering to tell me that is in some way different, challenging, insightful or informative? How will it improve me? It should really boil down to a single, powerful thing or a small number of things based around the same premise that I can easily digest and get value from. If there's no value on offer, it's time to rethink your content and what you're trying to achieve by creating it. Lists of stuff (yes, like this one!) are all very well, by the way, but you can't overdo it. We like list posts, we all do– but a list a day is not the well-balanced way. Mix it up and look at different ways to get your point across, different viewpoints and presentations.

Content made for your consumers to share is your ultimate goal. You want people talking about you, offering your insights and experience on to others, thereby giving you their effective endorsement. Remember how hard PRs used to try for endorsement in the good old days? Well, you're still aiming for it, but in the form of sharing. If your content isn't shareable, it's back to the drawing board. The one question you need to ask when you're reviewing any proposed content offering: "Why would I share this?"

Could this be better expressed as a video? An infographic? Even better– could we consider versions of it across a number of formats? Have we got something so good we can discuss it in more depth on video, headline it on Twitter, outline it on Facebook and get to grips with it in a blog post?

Whether it's a standalone opportunistic "hit' or a carefully planned part of a series of communications, your content needs to lead to something measurable so there should be a call to action– whether that be a link to further reading, a related article or even a straight click or call to discuss a product or service related to the content. It could be as simple as a plea to consider a different behaviour, but the point is there should be something at the end that people can do as a result of what they've just learned from you, and benefit in some way.

Alexander McNabb is a senior consultant at Spot On PR, which focuses on building digital communications and content marketing strategies for brands targeting the Middle East and North Africa region. He consults on publishing, digital media and communication strategies and has worked with government, technology, media and telco enterprises in the region for over 25 years. McNabb is an experienced broadcast presenter, public speaker, conference chair, and workshop leader. He is a regular commentator on marketing, communications, media content and digital as well as emerging technology and communications trends and contributes to radio, television, print and web-based media. In his spare time he writes novels. He blogs at Fake Plastic Souks and at the Spot On blog.
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