Content Marketing

Creating Social Substance: Talkable & Useful Content

content marketing social substance

Those of us who work for content marketing agencies and others who are responsible for developing new content for our own organizations share a common challenge. We know how difficult it can be to find balance between intrigue and usefulness. We understand that it is much easier to talk about or simply develop a tool than it is to create a talkable tool. Meanwhile, there is a realization that we need to develop a hybrid content marketing solution – one that is social and has substance.

I liken it to the different kinds of people we knew as children in school. Some kids in the class were beyond loquacious and friendly but struggled with their algebra homework. Then there were the children who were freakishly bright but never really engaged at school dances. But do you remember your class president? Chances are she was funny, smart, engaging and helpful to her classmates. She possessed a great combination of qualities owned by the socialites and the bookworms.  

Perhaps you already have some very talkable or useful content that needs a boost to attain social substance status. Here are some examples of each scenario with some ideas to get your content to the next level.

Talkable Content

The Problem:
Talkable content lacks staying power. It’s interesting for a moment in time, but does not really solve a problem or purvey a sustainable solution to a common issue.

Examples of Talkable Content:

Give Your Content Youtility:

  • Answer common questions. Does your website have a FAQ section? Why not translate that into useful, shareable content?
  • Solve lingering problems. Has your customer service department reported an increased number of complaints in a certain area? Solve trending trouble spots by creating and promoting helpful content.
  • Ask your consumer base what they need. What better way to find out what appeals to your customers than simply asking them.

Useful Content

The Problem:
One of the few drawbacks to useful content is that it can lack a universal appeal. It solves one person’s problem in a quick and dry fashion without any reason to share its value and benefits. Typically utilities associated with your brand are very good, but they can often by so much better by exciting the attention of a wider audience.

Examples of Useful Content:

  • A DVD Manual for a Food Processor
  • Mortgage Calculators
  • Your Website FAQ Section (mentioned earlier)

Make Your Content Talkable:

  • Make your content human. Sometimes utilities can fall flat if we don’t offer a way to show how they can and have impacted others. Provide testimonials and attach real stories to your utilities so your audience can identify with their purpose.
  • Add bits of entertainment, humor, fun. Is your content just boring? Give it elements that people would actually want to share and talk about.
  • Simply add the ability to share. Creating something useful is more than half the battle. Often times, we just forget to let our audience spread the word. Allow and encourage your customers to share.

By combining the effects of content that is worthy of chatter and extremely useful, we can create a harmonious content marketing program. Above all, try to avoid creating drab content that lacks both utility and appeal.

What kind of things are you doing to create social substance?

Facebook Comments


  1. betsykent says

    HI,Like this article. One of the things I ask my clients to do is to make a list of the questions that they get from their actual customers, new and existing. They often don’t realize that the ideas for useful content are right in front of them!Betsy

    • sietsema says

      betsykent That’s a great idea, Betsy.  Sometimes the best sources of content are the client’s actual customers. Monitoring search patterns (Google and site search) is really helpful in this regard. Keywords indicate the kinds of content site visitors are seeking.

      • says

        sietsema betsykent It helps to gather ideas for your content from actual customers but the way you package customer-generated ideas will make or break your content. As the post says, content developers need to make sure that the messages they create are both useful and entertaining.

    • josehuitron says

      betsykent Excellent recommendation! Our existing customer base is a prime hub for insights and presents opportunities for not only engagement but retention and loyalty!

  2. Amoravick says

    Chris, Great breakdown on the different types of content! Unless content has actual content – or substance as you say- it doesn’t do all that much for the publisher or the audience. I actually wrote a post along these same lines a few days ago, and I wish I could’ve included your perspectives as well. If you’d like, feel free to check it out and add any commentary you may have here: for the great insights!Best, Andrew

  3. HelenNest says

    You wrote a really interesting article. I do agree that there should be a combitation of talkable and useful content if you want your site blog to be readable. Some kind of mixture content entertaining readers and providing them with some remarkable information.

  4. says

    @19ea68b7549c15a26f822899c4b486cc:disqus Great input. We do that with our clients as well, and we also get feedback from members of their social communities. Simply asking your Facebook fans or Twitter followers what (1) they want to learn more about, or (2) questions they have is a fantastic way to find your next blog topic! Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *