Content is king, but context rules
I’ve written about the importance of content on our blog and even provided tips on creating content strategy, because, well, you know, content is king. However, there is one important factor I missed in the previous blog post: context.
Context doesn’t merely refer to location. It’s a relationship, system if you will, between people, places and objects. Such relationships affect not just how we engage with our environment at a specific moment, but also how and why we engage with content, especially with online content.
Different relationships between people, objects and places lead us to search for different content. Context affects how long we engage with the content we find relevant. Think about cell phones. We treat them as computers, and they often are as powerful as computers, but we use them in multiple contexts that are very different from the few contexts in which we use desktop computers and even laptops: during meetings, in the elevator to avoid awkward conversations, during dinner, while watching a movie, while reading a book, at a dance club, in the middle of an argument, while driving, etc. We are usually in the middle of something and just need to make a quick reference or multitask. Since we have less time to engage with the content, the content must meet our high expectations of relevancy and accuracy in the quickest possible way.
Context also affects the format of the content. Think about Internet-enabled TVs. We might be surfing the web, a typical computer activity, but we expect a TV experience, not a computer experience. Again, we treat TVs as computers, but since we use them in a different context, we expect content in a different format. We expect a much richer and visually engaging experience because no one will read five paragraphs of copy from 10 feet distance.
The original content strategy phases and questions are still crucial, but we need to understand the multiple contexts in which our clients’ content is accessed. We need to deliver content appropriate for each context because great content is sympathetic to context. As Matt Bean, brand editor of Men’s Health Magazine, says “not all content is created equal.”