The Truth About Content | An Agency Perspective
It all started when I was asked to do a Content Audit for a website. Respectfully, the Business Developer tells me - “title is not content” and proceeds to tell me how all the audits and recommendations I suggested have nothing to do with what was expected of me. Which was to find a way to rewrite the content on the website to give it better representation. I go silent. Wondering where to start. Then a small part of my brain pipes up, “I think...I think she means website copies…” and I go, “Oooooooohhhh” with realisation dawning on my head. But I keep myself on mute.
My mother has always told me there’s no point arguing with walls. And well, my mother has a point.
However, it made me think back to the very first time I’d ever set foot in an agency. I was a “Content Writer” and we (I was told) were supposed to take care of all long-format work: blogs, articles, websites, SEO requirements, so and so forth. The “Copywriter”, on the other hand would be the ones in charge of coming up with killer ideas. They would write social media posts. And of course, the whole digital media world would be turned on its head for this.
Please take a minute here to sit back, and read that again, roll your eyes and laugh out loud. Because that’s what I did.
By definition: Content is information communicated to an audience through media. This means that anything that we consume, IS content. The social media copies that the copywriters are oh-so-proud of is actually content. The YouTube video, the films you binge on Netflix and Amazon Prime, Podcasts, LinkedIn articles, blogs, ePapers, eBooks, Reels, IGTV videos, Facebook videos, the Stories...you name it, it’s ALL content.
Then why does this misconception exist that content writers mostly just deal with long format work? Because our job has always been focused towards informing readers. And while now, we have developed ways (such as Reels and Stories) to feed people bite-sized information, that wasn’t always the case.
We need to remember that copywriting is content, but content isn't necessarily copywriting. Where content writing is informative and creative and meant to be shared, copywriting is direct and focused on a sales-generating end-game.
Content writing and copywriting are primarily distinguished from each other by purpose.
Content writing is designed to educate or entertain, whereas copywriting is designed to persuade. Most text ads involve copywriting because they seek to compel readers to take action.
You will find hundreds of articles out there that speak about content writing and copywriting, how they are different from each other. We seem to constantly forget that content is so much more than just long-format writing. The problem is people treat content writing and content creation as mutually exclusive - when the truth is, they are not.
If you sat down today and made a blogging schedule for the coming month, and planned out your strategy - that's a piece of content. (Am I blowing your mind yet?)
Or if you made a beautiful presentation on how you should approach your Instagram for the next week. That strategy that you crafted is, once again, content.
Over the years, content gained a bad reputation. And even today people are told content writers won’t make as much as copywriters. Well, maybe start calling these people website copywriters and social media copywriters - if it means so much to you. To me, it doesn’t. My current job title is Senior Copywriter and Content Manager. Ridiculous, you might say.
I would have been happy with ‘Content Specialist’.
Or maybe not. Since I have colleagues who think titles aren't content.
If you still have questions about what content, copy, and strategy - feel free to leave a comment. Would love to know your thoughts on this piece.