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Just Because the Spelling Is OK Doesn’t Mean It’s Quality Content

By Alan J. Porter

As pre-sales content and post-sales content begin to overlap, Alan Porter provides the latest insights about our role in that evolution in Convergence Conversations. Learn through this column to build bridges and form synergies with your counterparts in marketing. Contact Alan at ajp@4jsgroup.com to ask a question or propose a topic for him to cover in this column.

The dictionary defines the word quality as “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” But what does that mean in terms of content? This question made me ask, “Do we, as a profession, measure our degree of excellence?”

I recently ran a quick poll using my Twitter account (@TheContentPool) asking what other content professionals think of when they hear the phrase “content quality.” The answers were along the lines that I expected, in that they were focused on the mechanics of producing good content.

The responses covered points such as:

  • Grammatically correct
  • No typos
  • Consistent
  • Preferred wording
  • Unambiguous
  • Enriched for search and discoverability
  • Follows the organization’s style and voice
  • Enriched with links when references are made
  • Has an explicit audience
  • Has measurable goals
  • Suitable for use in multiple contexts.

These are all great points and definitely things that we should all be thinking about as professional communicators. From a content convergence perspective, they are also goals that we should be encouraging other content producers across the organization to strive for, as well. We can help improve the quality of the content that our enterprises produce by leading by example.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to hold, and lead, classes on writing skills (although that can often be useful). What we can do is reach across functional boundaries to other content creators to ensure that we are all using the same words to mean the same things. Ideally we should have, or develop, a common vocabulary and taxonomy that can be used across the organization.

When we think about producing quality content from a holistic viewpoint, we should be aware, and make others aware, that the content could be used in different contexts and needs to be created with that in mind.

Creating content—no matter how polished it might be—just for the sake of creating content (as often happens with content produced in an organizational vacuum) is a waste of time and resources. I refer to this as “so what” content. It may be well written, but if it serves no purpose, and the reaction after consuming it is “so what,” then it isn’t a quality experience.

One of the respondents to my Twitter survey asked, “What does it (content quality) mean to you, Alan?”

For me, it means that content has the purpose I alluded to earlier. As some of the survey respondents suggested, good content should be written for the audience who will consume it, and have measurable goals. But I believe to be truly high-quality content, the measurable goals shouldn’t just be internal ones (like click rates) but also those focused on helping the customer succeed. Did the content we produced deliver value to the customer? Did it help them with what they needed to do, answer a question, carry out a task, complete a transaction?

We can produce all the content we like that is grammatically correct, spelled correctly, lacking typos, and so on, but it’s no good getting the mechanics of content production right if we don’t help those who use our content.

What does “content quality” mean to me? It means delivering value.

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