Digital Marketing Used to Exclusively be ‘Content First’ – Now It’s Something Else

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As far as I was concerned, content was the only thing that mattered when it came to digital marketing. Once upon a time, business owners in my community could count on me to be the person to say that content is the single most important ingredient in a digital marketing strategy. Nothing else carried as much weight in my book; “content is everything and everything is content”, I would say on repeat during my live broadcasts. Oh, how things have changed today. Instead of having a ‘content first’ principle to guide your marketing activities, the channel where the content will be published MUST be considered with the same level of intention.

‘Content first’ was about the message being the primary concern – now it’s the medium.

The digital landscape has changed, consumer habits have changed, and as a result of the pandemic, we as business owners have changed (hopefully). For my own businesses I want to continue being relevant and in conversations with my online audiences, and the abundance of changes in the past 3-ish years have caused me to shift my perspective and my advice.

If you consider yourself a creative, it can be easier for you to simply create the content you feel like creating when inspiration strikes. For years I spent a lot of time crafting social media posts, writing blog content and making videos that I believed would help my audience to find me online.

But I realized that I was putting the responsibility on my audience to search for me when it was my job to find them.

The shift from ‘content first’ to ‘channel first’ gives you the opportunity to filter your messages through the lens of the specific platform so you can create and publish content that feels like it belongs there. You can create content that is native to the platform it’s being published on.

BUT, the value of repurposing existing content is undeniable. As creators we save ourselves precious time by extending the reach of the content we’ve already worked on without duplicating our work. The downside of this method is that ‘rinsing and repeating’ your content doesn’t get the same results it once did. New platforms have emerged within the past 18 months and the lingering effects of the pandemic have shifted the way consumers interact with marketing messages.

While it’s true that marketing nowadays is still centered on great content, the channels have become more important than ever. The better you can understand your customer journey, the more likely you are to succeed using your chosen channels. The pivot to planning with the channel in mind first challenges creatives to consider the intended channel’s unique culture to make sure their messages don’t get ignored.