What is content?

That's a question I've been getting since at least 2011, when I first took a swing at a definition of content on this blog.

Though most of the technical things that make content haven't changed, the opportunities and platforms for content are changing all the time.

When we revisit my initial definition -- content is the presentation of information for a purpose to an audience through a channel in a form -- we see it's pretty darn broad. Yet many content marketers still think too narrowly about what assets they can put into the pipeline.

Use internal assets for external content marketing

In some cases, you're sitting on some internal documents that could be used as content marketing for outside audiences. But let me get this disclaimer out of the way: Not all internal documents are appropriate to share externally. A quick check with your legal counsel is in order.

Here's an example of repurposing an employee procedural manual into a piece of solid content marketing from one of my favorite local eateries, The Eddy Pub, in Saxapahaw, N.C. The restaurant shared its COVID Playbook on its website and social channels.

The Eddy Pub's Instagram post on COVID safety

Why it works

It was an incredibly smart move during a time when people are justifiably freaked out about safe and sanitary everything, particularly food service. This is a meaty, specific document that -- even if you don't read it -- send a clear message that The Eddy team takes their health and yours very, very seriously.

An image of people eating at The Eddy Pub illustrating a content marketing post on The Word Factory blog
Socially distanced diners at The Eddy Pub on its Instagram feed

Yes, photos of your team wielding bottles of disinfectant and wearing masks or socially distanced customers are also helpful. But this internal document carries more weight and builds more trust because it's so carefully researched, cites responsible parties within the company and provides lots of relevant details. It shows us what they're doing and -- most importantly -- how they're doing it.

Making this public is a win for The Eddy's existing customers, who already feel like family and have that emotion strengthened by the information. It may entice new diners hungry for good food and a nice drive to ride out to the riverside for curbside pick-up and then return for a dine-in experience whenever the heck that happens again.

And they didn't stop there. The Eddy is sharing an editable version of the document to help other food businesses up their coronavirus games.

So now this one internal document has created even more return on the investment required to create it.

Your action item

Take a look at your internal documents inventory and see which assets could be appropriately used for content marketing.

3 Related Content Marketing Insights

  1. Content marketing example: Anatomy of a facts piece
  2. Content marketing success tip: Focus on writing
  3. What is content, part 2