Those of us who work in digital marketing and communications instinctively know what the word means.
But, take a poll (even a non-scientific Facebook poll!) and you will find content means many different things to many different people.
For example, according to Wikipedia, content is:
…information and experiences that provides value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts…something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts. Content can be delivered via many different media including, but not limited to, the internet, television, and audio CDs, books, magazines, live events, such as conferences and stage performances, etc. The word is used to identify and quantify the information we receive through various formats and genres as manageable value-adding components of useful media to the target audience.
Phew. That’s a mouthful, right?
But here’s the thing: While content can be any and all of the above formats, it absolutely MUST NOT be one important thing—it MUST NOT be boring.
Content Creators: Enough with the Boring!
Which leads me to a man who might have been one of the most NON-BORING content creators to ever stick a hand in a sock: Jim Henson.
If you don’t know the backstory, Sesame Street was born from a 1966 Manhattan dinner party conversation—yes, even then parents were concerned about how much TV their kids watched—and launched in 1969.
The original series has been televised in 120 countries. More than 20 international versions have been produced, and Sesame Street has received more Emmy Awards than any other program (yup, there’s a Muppet Wiki!)
Ok, let’s go back to the beginning, before all the accolades and awards: An eight-foot tall canary, a grouchy garbage can dweller, an invisible (but not) Snuffleupagus, and The Martians.
What? You haven’t experienced the absurdity—yet sheer brilliance—of Henson’s Martians? Go back and click the link. Go on. Do it now. I’ll wait.
Seriously? I’m not sure what they were smoking at that dinner party, but hey, it was the sixties. Either way, that, my friends is what you call NOT BORING.
See, Henson realized early on that children are frighteningly smart and scathingly direct, twisted little creatures.
And that they get bored easily.
And he realized the sharing of information and knowledge—in fact the best way to engage a world full of little minds—was to be funny.
Yet still smart.
C is for Cookie. And Content
Jim Henson kept it simple, and found the inspiration for many of his most iconic characters in obvious things—a cookie, an inchworm, a trash can, and even a big bird.
He saw the world with an open, unbiased eye, and I doubt he ever said “that won’t work” or “that’s too silly” or “what if people don’t like it?”
I mean seriously, the man made TV gold out of two bathmats with antennas on their heads, and a rotary phone.
Learn this from Jim Henson: As a content creator, you must let go of fear. And you also must open your eyes to the world around you.
Being bombarded as we are daily with images and videos, blog posts and articles, start-ups and new high-tech gadgets, it’s easy to fall into the “that’s not cool, hip, innovative, edgy enough” trap.
Don’t allow that trap to paralyze your content efforts.
Can you imagine what that initial Sesame Street pitch meeting was like, all those years ago?
Never be afraid to have fun. Never be afraid to inject life and personality into your creations.
And never, ever be afraid to be yourself.
For the love of Sesame Street, please enough with the boring.