It is a basic truth that when we are surrounded long enough by any one thing, we eventually take it for granted. It’s not that the usefulness has lessened (though certainly in some cases the perceived value has); it’s just that we become conditioned to expect it. Content, and specifically digital content, is something most of the computer-using population (aka everyone) now takes for granted. Think about it: Do you ever flip open your laptop in the morning and fear: Maybe this is the day Google will return 0 results. What if the Huffington Post doesn’t have an opinion on something? How will I get through the day if no one posts a witty rant on Twitter?
In a relatively short time, the still amazing resource that is the Internet has become just another part of daily life—like air, like food, like weather, like traffic, like TV, like Starbucks. If no one is impressed or surprised when a local company sets up a web presence and starts to blog, from a business perspective, why does producing content still matter?
The answer is partly a matter of perspective, and partly a matter of simple communication evolution.
Think of the Internet as simply the latest progression from the ancient wooden signpost outside the blacksmith’s door to the first classified listing in the Boston News-Letter in 1704 to the ad in the Sears Roebuck catalog to promotions on early radio and then TV. A business can certainly thrive on word-of-mouth, but when many “mouths” do their talking via keyboards, you need to be sure your business is in a position to maximize exposure—essentially, the Web is today’s town center. And that fact–that businesses need a presence online–in turn means businesses need content. Because, technically speaking, content is how people find you online (search engines “read” content to deliver results to users), and strategically speaking, good content is why people return to find you again and again.
Still not convinced? Think of it from this point of view: Just because people take something for granted doesn’t mean that thing is unimportant. (Obviously, again, air to breathe.) In the case of having online content, digital connectivity is a powerful force in shaping people’s consciousness about the world around them. For more and more consumers, if your business doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page or a blog—some online content announcing, “Hello, here we are. We are located two blocks away from you, offline and in the flesh, providing 45 years of expert dry-cleaning services”—it might as well not exist at all.
The reliance on digital content is that overwhelming, making what you choose to send out into the world as meaningful as any other element of your business’s operation.