By Mark Schaefer
Here’s a proven method to consistently create effective content: Put it to the RITE test.
RITE is an acronym that stands for Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining. If you create content that hits at least three out of these four angles, you’ll be spinning gold my friend. Let’s take a deeper look.
What if you have multiple interests like books, pets, and cars? Can you create content about everything you’re interested in?
The answer is … kind of.
You don’t want to confuse people. If you started a video series about woodworking and then did a commentary on French history, your readers would think “What’s going on here? I came here for the woodworking tips!” You’re no longer relevant.
Now, that’s not to say you can’t bring your hobbies and interests into your content. Here’s an example of how I did it.
I mentor a young man named Elijah who is very active in sports, so I find myself attending many games. At one basketball game, Elijah’s team was pummeling the opponent at halftime by a score of 48-0.
Finally, a scrawny little guy on the other team stole a pass, dribbled down the court, and made a beautiful lay-up. But the entire gymnasium gasped in horror because he had run in the wrong direction and made a basket in the opposing team’s hoop. The poor kid actually scored for the other team!
This made me think: “Just goes to show you. It doesn’t matter how well you execute if your strategy is wrong in the first place” … which became a great blog post. I brought my interest in sports and an everyday observation into the blog and made it a teachable moment. I’ve used inspirations from history, art, travel, literature and other areas of interest to enliven my blog posts, but they are relevant to my core topic.
The “I” in RITE is Interesting. Publishing your content isn’t a creative writing contest. It’s a war for attention. Every single piece of content you produce must be interesting. If you can’t do that consistently, you’ll lose your audience to competitors who can hold their attention.
How do you stay consistently interesting?
When I create content that’s particularly provocative, somebody in the comment section will typically write “How did you know this was on my mind?” or, “How did you know we were just talking about this at work?”
I suppose the difference is, I don’t just think about things that interest me — I write about them and open a public discussion. It takes some guts to put yourself out there, especially when a view is incomplete or controversial, but that’s the key to remaining interesting, isn’t it?
You don’t need all the answers to be interesting. You simply have to ask the right questions.
One of my biggest advantages is that I don’t have a formal editorial calendar. Sounds crazy, but being flexible and tuned-in to the world allows me to create content that is “first to market” on breaking news and trending ideas.
Here are opportunities to create content based on changes going on in your environment:
- Wow news — In every industry there’s somebody producing a newsletter that curates the latest news (If there isn’t, go do that!). Read this news every day. If there’s a news item that makes you go “wow!” it’s probable that others are going “wow,” too. Open up your laptop at that moment and write a post about the implications of that news from your point of view. Publish that same day and your readers will love you.
- Comment on a commentary. Let’s say your passion is fire-fighting. If there’s an event that affects your industry like a budget cut, a new regulation, or a technological breakthrough, there are news stories already out there about it. Do a web search to find others commenting on the issue and then 1) summarize their points 2) provide a link to the original source with attribution, and 3) add your own perspective to the original view.
- Create a round-up post – If there’s a breakthrough in your area of sustainable interest, ask thought leaders to send you a paragraph, video clip, or soundbite of their views and present a round-up of opinions. You’ll be creating great content with the secondary benefit of quoting industry leaders who may share your post.
The final factor in the RITE formula … but perhaps the most important aspect of content creation today.
Why do you share a piece of content? Because it’s entertaining in some way. Maybe the video, podcast, or blog post makes you laugh, inspires you, or amazes you.
Thinking in terms of “entertainment” may create a point of differentiation for you. Most people aren’t putting their content through the “entertainment” filter … they’re just reporting. Could you stand out from the crowd and become known because of your entertaining style?
Like Greg Kinman, for example.
Kinman is a retired middle-school English teacher from the rural community of Pleasant View, Tennessee (population 4,149). Kinman, better known as Hickok45, is a YouTube sensation, with more than 2 million subscribers to his channel, lucrative sponsorships, and paid appearances.
This is what he does on YouTube. He shoots guns. That’s all. He shoots old guns and new guns, brown guns and blue guns. He shoots bullets at gongs and pumpkins and watermelons and books and tanks full of water. Week in, week out, he is a grandpa who just shoots. Occasionally he dresses like a cowboy, if he wants to get a little fancy.
You might think this talent has the same entertainment value as the refrigerator repair channel, or the “My Favorite Napkins” podcast … but no! You get sucked into watching this guy’s mutant-like ability to blow things up at long range. A lot of people do. One of his videos has nearly 15 million views.
This example might seem outlandish, but it’s actually sort of predictable. It’s entertaining. Kinman had his biggest viral video success by carving a face on a pumpkin by pumping it full of bullet holes. The idea was so entertaining that it was featured on a national news broadcast.
Before I publish any piece of content, I think about how I can make it more Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining, and I think this is a concept that will work for you, too.
Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.