It happened in the middle of a social media workshop we were facilitating at the University of Kentucky: a beautiful analogy dropped into our discussion.
The discussion was buzzing along—ideas were being exchanged, collaborations formed, and plans made. Talk began to revolve around where content should live—should it be on a certain university website? Social media? Both?
And then Kody, part of the video team at UK, made an analogy that hits the nail on the head for what many higher ed marketers may struggle with. It went something like this:
“You know, when you buy a new pair of shoes, you get them out of the box and try them on, see how they feel, see how they look. It’s about the shoes, not the shoebox. It’s the same thing with this content—it’s not about where it’s living, whether it’s a website, or social media, or wherever. It’s about creating engaging content that people want to read.”
Thank you, Kody. What a crystal-clear way to capture the maddening merry-go-round that marketers can get stuck on—like one of those old-school merry-go-rounds that used to fling us off in the 1990s. It’s easy to get stuck debating back and forth where content should live and forget to focus on creating engaging content in the first place.
While the medium shouldn’t be ignored, it’s easy to get lost in this debate: “Where should this content go? On the news site? On the home page? Or should it go on social media?”
And all the while, if the content isn’t engaging, nobody will read it anyway, so it doesn’t matter where it’s posted.
So what kind of content will be people actually read? Well, that’s an entirely different can of worms, but you could start with these questions:
Is this content internally or externally focused? Is it about us or them? Does it provide value and insight for the reader or just toot our own horn? Does your content have a perspective, or is it just regurgitating other opinions? Have you taken full advantage of engaging image or video to go along with it?
Those questions are just a starting point, but they may help guide you as you ensure that your content creates an experience that’s valuable for your intended audience.
So remember, it’s about not the shoebox, it’s about the shoe.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you into a “shoebox/shoe” discussion before? How have you navigated the delicate balance between content and medium? Share your stories in the comments.