Great content is the secret to marketing success on the social web. That’s what all the gurus and expert blogs tell you. And it’s true; great content is what drives people to click, share, follow, subscribe, donate and buy. And Google seems to like great content as well.

But what exactly IS great content?

When you now go online and search for ‘what is great content’, you will not find an all-encompassing definition of what makes content great. And that is perhaps logical. Because as always… ‘it depends’. Also, content is great, when someone thinks it is great. Just like with music. Or film.

Still, some music is loved by many and some stays undiscovered. Some pieces of content get found and shared like wild fire and some die-off the moment you publish them. So, what is the secret? What happens if you dissect a great piece content? What do you find? What are the fundamental elements that great content is build on?

Just yesterday, Steve Seager published a model called The Anatomy of Great Content. The model is intended as a discussion piece for B2B marketers and strategic communicators to help improve the quality of future content.

The Anatomy of Great ContentI think it’s especially great to use as a sanity-check against your existing content!

I want to zoom in a bit on the first 3 elements: targeted, valuable & structured. In my experience, this is where marketers struggle most to get it right (‘great’ that is!). These elements are all about ‘messaging’. About what you actually plan to say.

1. Targeted

The web is about reaching people directly. One on one. You always have a real person sitting on the other end of the screen. So, you need to write your content for individuals not markets or segments.

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: WHO is this written for?

2. Valuable

The web has gone social for a good while now. It’s not about Quid Pro Quo any more. Instead you gotta give to get!. Figure out exactly what your target audience really needs and where you can help. Do research, look at your data, talk to your sales people and get the facts. It’s about their needs!

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: WHAT is the real value of this piece of content to the person I am targeting?

3. Structured

Everything you do as a publisher on the social web, starts with the question ‘what do I want to achieve?’. Then you ask ‘with who’ (targeted!) and ‘how’ (offer value!). Then you need to factor in who is saying it (your positioning) and what you are selling (specific aspects of your value proposition).

If you want to tie all that up in a great piece of content, and keep doing that, you need structure. Just like with music. Or film. A great film usually has a great story (that’s you!), great actors (that’s your staff, clients, prospects & stakeholders), great plot points (that’s the themes and topics you are talking about) and great dialogue (that’s you engaging in a conversation with your target audiences).

The combination of all that is what makes you love a film. What makes you remember it. And tell your friends about.

So as a last, but vital, sanity check against your content:

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: does it stick?

As for the other 4 elements in the model: atomised, optimised, activating & measurable… don’t bother with those until you get your messaging right! Because you hardly ever see a great film that solely relies on great photography, camerawork and special effects. Now do you?

More context and additional information download the E-book below:

DOWNLOAD THE PDF: The Anatomy of Great Content: a content marketing model for B2B marketers and strategic communicators.

My business partner Steve Seager has just launched his new blog on www.steveseager.com.

On his blog Steve will be talking about strategy and communications on the social web.

When I met Steve more than 2 years ago I wasn’t too keen on the word ‘Strategy’. I always felt strategy was about long term. It would always prevent things from moving forward!

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My business partner Steve Seager will soon be releasing his new WordPress blog on www.steveseager.com. As I was transfering content from his old blog to his new blog, I couldn’t help but re-reading some of his old posts.

Here’s one that I thought was fun to share with you:

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Hi there!

I want to kick off the New Year with some food for thought.

From Good To Great by Jim Collins is one of my favourite business books. In it, Jim and his team identify ‘The Hedgehog Concept” as one of their key concepts for taking an organisation from good to great.

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Image of race car Facebook Vs HamiltonI like Vodafone. I’ve been a customer for years. Mostly because their reception is good. And that’s the most important factor for a network operator.

But I don’t love Vodafone. I’m not a fan. And that’s a shame actually, because as a loyal customer, I think I am a prime target to become a fan. I don’t really get why Vodafone is not focusing more on improving customer loyalty: especially in a market where people easily switch providers. It simply doesn’t make sense.

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Hello, and thanks for visiting my blog!

About 18 months ago my partner Steve Seager and I started our business, we do communications. We help businesses sell their ideas, products and services on the social web.

Selling stuff in traditional media is one thing. But to do this on the social web is another. It takes a radically different view on things. You need to get out of the mass marketing headset and start thinking targeted.

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My own little bi-monthly experiment…

Last year July my business partner Steve published a document on Scribd called “Business leaders and social media: a 4 step strategy framework”. It’s a useful little document for business leaders who need to direct their teams in setting social media strategy.

As a matter of habit and experiment, I retweet a link to the document to my Twitter followers every other month or so. Five minutes later I can see that the number of reads on the document has jumped up. Over the course of 15 minutes the documents gets an additional 40 reads. Now bad considering I only have about 800 followers.

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Last week, we do communications’ PR & Strategy director Steve Seager gave a presentation the Dutch Architecture PR Group in Rotterdam.

His biggest insight from this great meeting was that PR and Comms people in Architecture are essentially no different from those in B2B PR and marketing. They all face the similar challenges when getting started.

Since many of our clients are also in B2B services, I thought his post was useful to share here as well.

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Getting the basics right…

I see many businesses getting their feet wet with social media. I guess it is natural for businesses to discover new channels.

As my business partner Steve Seager points out in his blog post “Social Media is a lot like Aikido. Advertising is a lot like Karate”, social media channels are very different to radio, TV & print.

Many businesses I see on Twitter, embrace it as a broadcast channel. Wrong. People don’t care what you’re doing, what your products do or whether or not you have made it to the newspapers.

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