I’m calling BS on bad content. We’ve all had instances (myself included) where our best work hasn’t been on display. Often rushed deadlines are to blame, but we can all admit that there have been times when we didn’t hold our content to a high enough standard.
Judging the quality of your own work is a tricky balancing act between being overly critical and not critical enough. Fortunately, a solution does exist, but it will require you to be brutally honest with yourself. Before publishing anything, consider the following BS barometers for your content.
Clickbait headlines work, but for how long? We’ve all fallen for clickbait, but consumers are wising up to hollow headlines. There is a correct way to use clickbait, however, and The Skimm email newsletters are a great example of clickbait done right. The Skimm’s headlines cleverly position clickbait where, at first glance, it seems completely irrelevant to the story, but as you read on you realize those headlines are actually smart analogies about the content. That’s the key to a good headline: it leads to a rewarding experience for the reader.
You might have written a headline worthy of grabbing someone’s attention, but will they read it beyond the first paragraph? When creating content, ask yourself, “would I continue reading this?” The most popularly shared content tends to be either entertaining, useful or both – make sure you’re checking off at least one of those boxes. Anything else probably falls in the BS bucket.
With the abundance of digital content available online, you’re lucky to even get surface-level attention from readers. If you briefly browsed your piece, would you be compelled to go further in depth? Putting out new ideas is ideal, but there are plenty of opportunities for evergreen content as well. While an idea might be old, your perspective on it doesn’t have to be. Publications are constantly telling similar (and sometimes identical) stories; it’s not so much about “what” they’re presenting, but rather “how” they’re doing so.
Strong content today is usually accompanied by images or videos. Shareable images like infographics may have cooled off since their meteoric rise in early popularity, but they can still add value when done properly. Pull the most quotable and intriguing aspects out of your content and feature as shareable images. If you don’t have any content worthy of showcasing visually, then you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands and one that likely won’t pass the BS test.
Sharing is arguably the ultimate measure of your content’s quality. Content that no one would share might as well be content no one should read. If you’re not interested in sharing with your own followers, why should anyone else be with theirs? Position your content for social media success – use Twitter-friendly headlines and give audiences a reason to engage with what you’re writing.
If your content can get through these five tests relatively unscathed, then you’re on the right track. Remember that the most candid editor for your work is yourself. Hopefully, you’ve found these tips useful or enjoyable to read – and, at the very least, not BS.