One of the best nuggets of content wisdom that sticks in my mind is to ‘compare your subject matter with something you are passionate about’. This puts a unique spin on the content for the reader, and makes it extra enjoyable for the writer. So, here we go…. Content and pancakes.
Pancakes are pretty easy to make with just three basic ingredients: milk, eggs, and flour. Of course, there are all sorts of recipes people use to spruce up their pancakes – but going back to basics, a pancake is not a pancake without these three key ingredients. Similarly, a piece of content is not a piece of content without three vital components: a message, a structure, and a purpose.
…but who wants a stack of plain pancakes?!
That combination may make the fluffiest, most perfectly-rounded pancakes in the world – but no one is going to look at a plain pancake and think ‘mmm, I want to eat that right now!’ Without toppings, sauces, and ice cream, the pancake has a much smaller chance of piquing somebody’s interest. Similarly, without a catchy headline, engagingly crafted message, and visuals to keep the content relatable and easy to digest, your content won’t be as appealing for anyone to click on and read through to the end.
In digital content generation as in pancake making, your desired results will dictate the approach you should take. Your recipe for content that aims to raise awareness will differ to your recipe for content that aims to convert, just as a recipe for thick and fluffy American style pancakes would differ from a thin crepe recipe.
What makes you want to eat a pancake? For me, it’s keywords like ‘chocolate’ and ‘Nutella’. The same goes for content headline keywords. Consider what will make your audience want to click and find out more.
An engaging and enticing headline is one of the most important aspects of online content. Your digital audience is exposed to vast amounts of content, so yours needs to immediately stand out with a title that speaks to the reader and says ‘you must read me!’. They don’t want to dig deep to find content to digest – it needs to jump out at them as relevant and worthwhile.
How do you like your pancakes?
Some people prefer savoury, some people prefer sweet; some people prefer fruity, some people prefer syrupy; some people like to keep them healthy with protein powder, and then there are people like me who load on as much chocolate and Nutella as possible! Before preparing content – or pancakes – for your audience, you must understand what it is they want from it in order to create the best possible experience.
In content terms, this could translate into educational content versus entertaining content, or inspirational content versus content that provides commentary; some audiences may prefer to be hit with facts, while others may prefer content in the form of storytelling. This must all be considered before content is produced.
I don’t know about you, but in my house we like to mix up the pancake toppings available. There are always some staple classics that don’t go out of fashion – like lemon and sugar. But each year we also find a new novelty spread or topping which is fresh and different. Recently, the confectionary world seems to have been taken over by chocolate orange products – so tonight we’ll have at least one pancake topped with as much chocolate orange as we can find!
The same mix of ‘always on’ stock options and new and timely interludes also goes for digital content. We recommend a strong combination of these to our digital content clients – where we always have the evergreen messaging that remains constant, mixed in with the more up-to-date commentary and insights on trending topics and timely events.
Whatever content or pancake you are creating, you must make every bit(e) count. Any content you share on your digital channels should always have a purpose and add value to the audience – with a focus on quality over quantity, building credibility for your brand’s content voice. The same goes for pancakes – make sure you get a good mix of perfect pancake and tasty toppings with each bite!
The formatting of content, like the presentation of pancakes, is what makes it appealing and shareable. Sure, a messy mound of pancakes and toppings can still taste amazing – just like a brain dump of thoughts can be highly insightful and full of valuable information. But, a sloppy mess is not inviting to eat just as an unorganised and unformatted piece of content is not inviting to read.
The more content can be designed to be visually appealing, the more likely it is to be engaged with and shared further. Consider eye-catching optimisation for blogs from subheadings to visuals, and more creative content formats such as infographics, animations, and videos to communicate your message.
Handy checklist before you get started on pancake-making: mixing bowl, frying pan, sieve, whisk, spatula/flipping utensil, ingredients.
Like me, you probably get all of this out and ready ahead of time. You should consider the same operational requirements for your content generation. Do you have the talent in-house to plan, create, manage, edit, distribute, promote, and analyse content? Or do you need to hire or outsource?
Using a ready-made pancake mix is absolute sacrilege in my eyes – but that’s not to say there isn’t a place for it. Ready-made pancake mix, just like curated or repurposed content, is a great option to have – take something that already exists that you know works well, add your own spin, and push it out. This is a solid part of any content strategy.
However, the real value comes from the ‘homemade’ pancake/content mix. Fresh ingredients and insights are always more valuable and authentic. Not such a quick fix, but the extra effort definitely pays off in the results!
Speaking of results, this part is important. I have a Note on my phone for my tried and tested pancake recipe, which I add to each time I make pancakes to remind or improve on anything that has worked well/gone wrong. This includes anything from the best number light for the hob to be on to the exact measurements of ingredients and successful methods for keeping them warm.
The same should go for your content marketing. Analyse the key metrics that show how your content has performed and use this as a guide for what to develop and improve on in order to constantly be perfecting your digital content recipe.
If you’re looking for content support or consultancy, send me an email on [email protected]. (Pancake Day photos also welcome!)