Content marketing, as an industry, is obsessed with best practices to ensure effective content, not enjoyable content:

  • This is how many keywords you need
  • This is the keyword frequency you should be aiming for
  • This is the time of day you should post
  • This is the blah b-blah b-blah

Sometimes we think the complexity of content marketing rules exist solely as a way for content marketers to generate more content. You’ll find a million pieces of content spewing out there about what you should be doing, when you should be doing it and how sorry you’ll be if you don’t.

But here’s the little secret they don’t tell you in these data-driven blog posts: if people stop reading it after the first line because it’s boring or useless or not at all what the reader had in mind from the description when he or she clicked the link to get to it, then following all those rules is a waste of your time.

And so, above all else, content has to be enjoyable. But what does that even mean when everyone’s definition of “enjoyable” is so different?

We think it means three things:

Enjoyable content solves a problem

It doesn’t matter what the problem is or how trivial it may be. And “problem” doesn’t have to be a negative thing either. A problem could be “How do I get better at Scrabble?” or “How to make a sandwich that won’t get soggy?” (Ed. note: use the cheese or meat as a barrier between the bread and wet ingredients like tomatoes or pickles).

When readers can come away from a piece of content having learned something they can actually use (which you’ll no doubt do next time you make yourself a sandwich), most find that enjoyable. Content like that is helpful, and everybody likes a bit of help ¾ even if they say they don’t.

Enjoyable content is friendly

Yes, there’s something to be said about professionalism. You’re not going to pepper your piece with OMGs. But regardless of the subject matter, it shouldn’t be stuffy either. Remember, even PhDs put their pants on one leg at a time. They’re people, not boring, soulless robots. Don’t write to that.

Write to the person on the 5:30 train home, not the 8:30 train in. That means short sentences with small words that everyone gets. It means getting to the point quickly and not waxing poetically about yourself. It means making the reader feel good by showing them a future state with your product or service as opposed to making the reader feel crappy by showing them a future state without your product or service.

Enjoyable content is credible

It’s hard to enjoy what you don’t believe so your content should be giving readers reasons to buy in. If it’s an opinion piece, the opinions should be backed up by sourced facts. If it’s a fluff piece, the topic should be well-researched so it adds value to the reader. And if it’s supposed to be a funny piece, then make sure it’s funny. Not much worse than trying for a laugh and coming up short.

And why do you need enjoyable content?

For the same reason movie theatres need enjoyable movies, sports teams need enjoyable players and companies need enjoyable people: it’s much easier to get buy-in when everyone’s smiling.