Why you can’t treat content like advertising.

One pandemic and all of a sudden, every business wants to create “content”. They want to grow audiences. They want to build a following. They want to attract new customers. This is completely understandable, but there’s something these businesses aren’t realizing: Content isn’t the same as advertising.

First of all, there’s a big difference between the two. Well, it’s actually not that big, but knowing makes all the difference. There is an important yet subtle difference between content and advertising. Content is online material (videos, blogs, short posts, etc.) that people actively or intentionallyconsume and follow. While advertising tends to be material that people passively and unintentionally consume.

Content can be used as a form of advertising, but advertising can’t be used as content. This is the part a lot of businesses get wrong when it comes to creating content.

Content isn’t designed to bring in more sales over a 3- or 6-month period in the same way advertising does. Content’s main purpose is to inform, entertain, or engage with audiences. Not to sell them a product.

For example, we all have favourite YouTubers or influencers that we follow and watch and stay up to date with, but have you ever thought about why you watch them? Why do you trust them? Why do you listen to them? Because they’re not trying to take your money. They’re just talking about the things that interest them. Or they’re informing you so that you can make better decisions. By not selling to you, they’re able to build your trust.

So, what do you do? What should your goal be with creating content? The answer is one word: Educate. Think about it for a second, the best salesmen aren’t the ones that force you to buy something, or convince you to buy something. The best salesmen are the ones that inform you well enough so that you can make the best decision.

Your content should have the same goal in mind. Inform people, don’t sell to them. Think about what a potential customer would want from your business, then answer their questions with video, pictures or writing. If you can answer their questions in a way that’s not boring, that’s even better, and if you can be entertaining that’s best.

If you sell cars and want to create content to bring in more customers, don’t tell people about your best deals and best prices. That’s selling, and people will actively avoid you. Instead try talking about what makes X brand perfect for kids, or offer reasons why young couples should consider buying Y brand. Look for ways to help people make a better decision.

By following this thought process, you will build trust with your viewers. Now people will start coming to your channels to watch what you have to say. They’ll start trusting you. They’ll start telling people about you. And when they’re looking to buy, guess who they’ll turn to first? You.

Content cannot and should not be treated like advertising. Each has their respective place and purpose, but when their purposes are confused, the result is usually frustrating, disappointing and plain annoying.

Think of advertising like a short-term investment, and content a long-term investment. Each has its benefits, and it’s not about either-or. It’s about utilizing both so you can get the most out of your online presence.