Tuesday 2¢: Yes, it’s called content


This week’s Tuesday 2¢, I leap to the defense of the word content in the popular parlance of the modern marketer.


This week I am stirred to write this two cents after reading some tweets that suggested we shouldn’t use the word content.

The rationale being that the consumer of the content does not call it ‘content’.

Nobody says I’ve just watched some amazing Youtube content, unfolded some content on the train to do the crossword, or wrapped their chips in content.

I can’t quote the tweet, as it’s long swiped down my stream, although it’s been knocking around in my head for a bit and can’t remember the exact examples used. But, it is an attractive argument, that the word ‘content’ is now part of the business bullshit lexicon of marketing, divorced from the consumer and we should speak planer.

Only it’s not true – I did do a quick search for the tweet that got me here, couldn’t find it, but there are plenty of regular people, not just the bubble dwelling marketing BS’ers, that describe the thing they consume on a media channel as content.

However, that’s not my argument. The reason I would argue for using the word content comes from when I started my software career in supply chain management.

In that industry, whether it’s a pot of paint, a can of Guinness, or a black size 14 dress, it’s called a Stock-Keeping Unit (SKU). The discipline of Supply Chain Management, the systems, optimizing algorithms, best practices really don’t care what the item is, broadly speaking.

SKUs have attributes, like a bill of materials, color, size, sell-by dates, ingredients, box size, weight, lead time (etc.) associated with them, that guide how they are stored, transported, and displayed in their progress from manufacturer to consumer. All orchestrated by the modern supply chain optimization algorithm.

When someone, as a result of a well-run supply chain, opens a delivery box, smiles and holds their new black dress up against themselves in the mirror, they don’t whisper to themselves “nice SKU”, they say “nice dress” and nobody wishes those logistics professionals would speak more planer and call it a dress.

I’m painting this broadly here, I am a long time in the content management industry and my supply chain days are a while ago, but content management, optimization, delivery, all of that is very similar.

If you are managing a content process, it’s no different if the piece of content is a PDF datasheet, a Youtube “how-to” video, a set of instructions, or a blog post, it’s a unit of content traveling along a content supply chain from creator to consumer that should be optimised.

The route it takes, how it’s stored, where, and maybe who it’s delivered to, should be controlled by its attributes in a well-oiled content supply chain machine.

Then when someone, as a result of a well-run content supply chain catches that Youtube “how-to” video that you delivered just at the point of your consumer’s need mutters to themselves “Ah.. useful video”, we can still call it content.