Collaboration

Thinking about your content creation as an organic ecosystem and not a production line

Brett McGrath

Jun 7, 2022

Thinking about your content creation as an organic ecosystem and not a production line

I got connected with Lizzy when she was at the previous stop in her career. I told her manager that I was running a campaign around promoting quality over quantity content and she told me that she had the perfect person on her team to contribute. I gave Lizzy the prompt and she was the first submission I got back. After reading her piece I was blown away by her mindset and thoughtfulness around this topic. I've been spending a lot of time exploring Modern Day Marketers and this was the first time I had someone use such powerful analogies to paint a clear picture of the problems that I was exploring. You can follow Lizzy on Twitter and LinkedIn. Give her a shout.

Thinking about your content creation as an organic ecosystem and not a production line

Elizabeth Burnam, Content Marketing Manager, UX Research

User Interviews


There’s plenty of mediocre content on the internet. If you create enough of it, mediocre content can get the job done, in terms of boosting views and organic search rankings. 

But efficacy is not the same as excellence—and numbers aren’t the same as results. 

The internet today holds over a trillion web pages, each of them competing for space on the first page of Google’s search results. Each of them competing for your buyer’s attention. Each of them a mere drop in the content consumption bucket. 

With the breadth of information available to your readers at the click of a button, there’s nothing stopping them from abandoning mediocre content in favor of excellent content—so increasing quantity at the expense of quality is like dumping water into the sea. It just doesn’t make a difference. 

So instead of focusing on volume, focus on value. I like to think of content creation as nurturing a delicate, organic ecosystem, as opposed to ramping up a machine in a production line. Ecosystems evolve slowly, gently, and persistently, all of their living and nonliving parts directly influencing each other, working together to create harmony. 

Likewise, the content you create should have a positive, sustainable impact on your readers and vice versa. By focusing on adding real value—or using the content you create to support and influence your audience’s evolution—you can strengthen the relationship you have with your readers. In tandem, your content engagement metrics should grow naturally. 

Unlike natural ecosystems, however, the world of content marketing doesn’t contain any such thing as an invasive species. You can’t dominate the content ecosystem by being fast and reckless in your growth. Pushing high volumes of low-quality content into the internet will only serve to damage your relationship with the readers it comes into contact with. 

To that end, you need to be comfortable with ambiguity. Anyone who studies organic processes understands that they need to account for a certain level of randomness and unpredictability in the evolution of those processes. Content—as a value-adding, community-building effort—is an organic process. 

Over-focusing on hard metrics gives marketers the illusion of too much predictability and control. The idea of “gating” content—as if you could fence in knowledge and strong-arm readers into sharing personal information in exchange for access to it—is entirely outdated. Yes, it’s difficult to track who’s viewing your content when it’s free and open to anyone who stumbles upon it. But the free exchange of ideas is a fundamental characteristic of the internet as we know it, and any content you publish on the internet cannot exist independently of this context. 

Therefore, data should sit primarily at the beginning, not the end, of your content creation process. Even if you can’t identify and contact everyone who reads your content, you can still use customer data and market research to ensure you’re creating high-quality content that interests your target audience. This might leave some uncertainty when it comes to tracking key success metrics and driving growth in search impressions, page views, and form conversions. 

But beyond these metrics, the end result will be more relevant and timely content, enthusiastic engagement from readers, and meaningful conversations between your customers, your sales and marketing teams, and your greater network. 

Those ongoing conversations are what matter most. As marketers and content creators, we act as the conduit between the business and the customer and back again. If your content is only collecting page views—if it fails to inspire readers, create social buzz, and kick off the sales process—then it isn’t doing its job. 

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