(2 min read) I got asked an interesting question today, "how can a brand produce content without coming across as self-serving?" My answer was "why does that matter?"
But of course, I can never stick with a short answer. Short answers feel incomplete. Snarky comments, while poignant, feel cheap. One day I'll learn to charge for the longer response, but today is not that day.
My longer answer was as follows... It doesn't matter that content produced by a brand is self-serving because all content is self-serving. Magazines, newspapers, etc. serve content in exchange for subscriptions and/or to attract an audience that's marketable to advertisers. Universities publish to gain a competitive reputation and thus bigger grants and higher tuition rates. Wikipedia fosters the creation of information by the public in order to decentralize the ownership of information by major publishers. Linked In eats my posts in order to further its position as a community for the world's most prominent thought leaders ("how we doin' Linked In?").
Every publisher has an agenda. It's decent to be upfront about that agenda but, what's even more decent is publishing content that offers more than it requests in return. Or more succinctly put, produce something worthwhile.
Hence, if you're asking, "does my content seem self-serving?" you really should be asking "why is it that I'm worried about my content seeming self-serving?" Ask yourself the following:
Do I/does my brand actually have ground to stand on? Do we know stuff that others don't? Does our perspective count for something?
Is the content I'm publishing helpful? Will someone think differently, be positively motivated, or better off for having read this content?
Is this relevant or just a therapeutic exercise for me personally? (note the latter is also known as a rant, and rants are OK if they're helpful and/or therapeutic for the reader too).
If you can answer yes to the above and honestly believe your content is credible, helpful, and relevant... then go for it. There's no such thing as publishing Karma. It doesn't matter that your content serves you, it matters that the recipient gains as much or more from reading it as you gain from publishing it. Brand those posts, people may even thank you for them.
Liked This Read? If you got something out of this story, we recommend you check out the following reads on content planning & strategy:
- The Me Meter- How Open Minded Is Your Content, No Really?
- When It Comes To Content Freud Was Right.- When To Shoot For The Moon, And When To Call It A Day.
- Why Stories Should Matter To Sales- How To Put Your Content To Work.