Digital content is an umbrella term that is way wider than many people make of it. There are endless categories of online content, classified both with regards to function and substance. That includes literally everything anyone posts on the Internet, from tweets and Facebook posts to articles and YouTube videos. That does not have to be for any business purposes. Even your personal posts on any social media platform fall under the definition of digital content. It is basically any message, personal or organizational, communicated with the digital world.
Content creation, as fancy as the term might sound for many, is something every online publisher knowingly or unknowingly does. The abundance of content flooding the Web today goes back to the fact that content creation no longer requires vast resources. That was the case back when TV, radio and print press were the only media of exposure. But today, with the Internet as the prime resource for any content creator, digital content has never been more economical.
The Main Types of Digital Content
This type of content is put out by both individuals and brands. That includes YouTube vloggers, viners, bloggers and Facebook pages (i.e., comic pages, life hacks, etc.) Aside from individuals that create such content for pure entertainment, there are many brands that now create entertaining digital content to expose their brand to people online. That differs from marketing content, though. The difference lies in that this content does not call on customers to buy or subscribe to anything. It is merely to build a rapport with these people, be they actual customers or not.
This type of content has been growing insanely lately. Every day new blogs and Facebook pages are set up for just that purpose. Especially on YouTube, content creation has been taking a very educative turn. There are hundreds or even thousands of YouTubers who are knowledgeable about some field and share that knowledge with their viewers. That includes fields like pop science, philosophy, history, politics, cinema, technology etc.
Now a lot of brands have jumped on the bandwagon of educational content related to their products or services. An example of that is financial consultancy companies. A lot of them, through their blogs or YouTube channels, give basic financial advice to their followers. Another example would be if Apple decided to create content on its YouTube channel teaching us some hacks to ease our iOS experience. There are countless examples of that, and it proves miraculous for many brands. The reason is that while a lot of people view that content without buying the service, many end up trusting that brand after having benefited from their content for a while. It is a great way to position your brand as an authority in its category.
Marketing and Sales
This type of content is created, of course, solely for business purposes. That can be for either a brand, an individual trying to gain their content exposure (e.g., a singer or an author), or some social campaign trying to direct people towards a cause. There has to be some commodity, service or content to sell to those will read that content.
Unlike marketing and sales content which is predominantly emotional and intended to persuade, conversion content is intended to prompt a decision. That takes a more rational appeal than the former. In terms of business content, this is supposed to be the last stage in terms of sales. First, a brand releases the content that familiarizes people with it. Then, the content that persuades them of their need for the product or service. Conversion content comes finally to call on them to take action and actually buy that product or subscribe to the service.
Despite the various purposes behind content creation, the forms of production tend to be the same. Be it business content or personal content.
Forms of Digital Content
As of late, video content is becoming more and more the conventional form of content creation. Most people and brands now when deciding to publish their content decide to do it through a Youtube channel, Instagram videos or Vines. The reason behind that trend is that video delivers messages in only a couple of minutes that might take 15 minutes out of the viewer’s time on any other medium. That makes people who are too lazy to read also get in on that content.
Considering the fact that the cost of shooting videos or creating basic animations is gradually decreasing, it has never been as feasible. There are YouTube channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers that are run from production to publicity by some teenager working from their room with a few free tools and some self-taught knowledge. Of course, having a budget behind the production is never a bad idea, but it’s no longer an essential requirement.
Perhaps this is the most basic and classic way of content creation but it is still at the forefront, albeit with declining popularity. The reason that it does not grow obsolete is that people can view it with ease wherever they are. You’re not always somewhere where you can watch a video, but you can always open an article on your phone whatever its content might be.
And lately, in keeping up with the ever-increasing epidemic of laziness, the written content is moving towards constant shrinkage. We can see this in many brands’ Facebook posts, and mini-blogging websites like Twitter. On Twitter, for example, the message has to be conveyed in only 140 characters. Even online media outlets like magazines or newspapers went with the trend. They now send out newsletters that have every story or event encapsulated in a few sentences. There are even newsletter services like theSkimm or the Hustle that compress stories as far as possible in order to deliver otherwise complex content through something you can read in a few minutes.
Written content also has an advantage when it comes to pushing content strategies. The viewer has to choose to watch a video, whereas there are many forms of written content that can penetrate the viewer’s space and try to catch their attention. For example, that is what happens with sponsored content on Facebook or Twitter. You would find a brand or public figure’s content shown naturally among your news feed content, and you might often end up paying some attention to it.
That includes podcasts, audio books, and audio streaming services like Soundcloud, Deezer or Spotify. There is a great advantage to the audio content in that it requires the least attention. That’s because you can just put your headphones on anywhere and listen to some podcast or audio lecture. That is at the same time its disadvantage. Because it requires the least attention, it is paid just that much. You can often find yourself after a few minutes into listening to something gradually zoning out and even forgetting that you’re listening to it for a while. It is hard to say that it is highly popular. Obviously, that is if we exclude music. You don’t find a lot of audio marketing or sales content out there. That pretty much stayed with the radio.
The popularity of visual content is at an all-time high now. And when we talk about visual content, we don’t only mean graphics and infographics. We’re also including memes and comics. That’s not only because they have proved to be among the most effective means of delivery on political to social issues. Memes were actually one of the most critical propaganda tools in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After having proven that effective, memes are often used now for business purposes as well. There are a lot of brands today that use them on social media to communicate their messages to followers while cracking some jokes. Infographics are on the rise, too. They have almost replaced classic statistics and graphs and even articles in many cases. People became able to wrap their minds around complex concepts or topics by looking at an infographic for 5 minutes.
There are, of course, many other types of content, but in broad terms, these are the main types and forms of digital content. Anyone who decides to become an online publisher today has to choose one of the aforementioned purposes and forms for their digital content.