It could just be the blogs I visit, or maybe it is a certain time of the year, but for some reason, it seems I’ve read quite a few marketing and business development-focused posts recently about the need to produce “great content.” When I read these posts, I get all kinds of how-to’s and suggestions for using the content in blogs, social media and email campaigns.

I’m writing today to tell you that is NOT what you need to do. Suggesting the need for “great content” today, is like suggesting the need to have a website in 2002. A website became a necessity well before 2002, and the need for great content came well before 2014. Great content simply doesn’t cut it today – we are beyond that. Pick any topic you care about, and search for it online. You’ll find thousands of pages with “great content” on that topic. Hell, this isn’t even the first post on, “avoiding great content;” see Jon Morrow’s post for more .

Today, you need more than great content. Your content has to have insight and information that others don’t, or include a perspective about the information that your prospects and readers find compelling. Even as recent as five years ago, you could write on a topic, give a tip or two, and in 250-400 words, have a good, informative piece on your hands. If you took that a step further, and mentioned it through social media, you may have a few hundred or thousand reads within a few days.

Unless you began writing more than five years ago, it will take a bit more effort to build that level of traffic today. Instead of writing a post on the use of Facebook for advertising, you need to be more specific. Instead, how about an article on the new email upload feature in Facebook Insights (the tool that allows you to better target prospective leads in your advertising)? But this article is only relevant if you’re one of the first to really write about it. Writing about that in 2 months’ time puts your article among thousands of others. Another example may be SEO. You can’t write a general post about the 200 criteria Google uses to measure your site’s success unless you want your article to be among one of the hundreds of thousands on it. Instead, you need to focus specific SEO case studies on a sample or two within a specific industry (and then really only promote the post to folks in that industry).

My point is that your material needs to have depth and reflect your knowledge of the topic so that readers pick up on your expertise and ability to replicate those efforts and success for them.

The same applies to social media. You can no longer release a general post about your SEO blog article. You need to place the post in specific, industry-focused discussion boards on LinkedIn, use one or two industry-specific hashtags in Twitter, and use the few characters you’re given to catch a reader with intrigue about her or his industry.

Most of my content is written for my current and perspective higher education clients. Anyone who uses Twitter to promote their work with prospective clients in higher education knows the common #highered hashtag for this group. The problem here is that this is a fairly popular hashtag of the industry, and covers a wide range of topics. To be fair, I certainly use this hashtag. But I also use a different hashtag, one used much less frequently: #hemktg (higher ed marketing). This hashtag really helps me focus my information to a very targeted group – and I’ve found less than 25% of the agency folks that use the #highered hashtag using the #hemktg hashtag.

My blog posts are about tactics and strategies not only specific to higher education, but cover issues that delve deeper within the industry. Many of my posts are geared for the recruitment/admission teams. And those topics are very specific in nature. For example, I had a post on the number of fields colleges should have on their “contact us” forms. This post had a good reach for me. So not only did I generate content on a very specific topic, I specialized it further by focusing not just on an industry, but on a subset of an industry.

So, if we don’t want “great content” today, what is it we need? Specialized, in-depth and targeted content that is promoted in an equally focused way. You don’t need broad messages meant for the world to see. Because those messages, while potentially strong in attracting larger audiences, will not engage those readers in an effective way. The posts you wrote five or more years ago can actually be more harmful than helpful today.

While it is important that you continue to generate great content, the entire point of this article is that must you understand the definition of the term is significantly different than it was only a few years ago, and therefore, how you generate that content must also be significantly different. Thus, I prefer to refrain from using this term because I find too many people thinking of “great content” the same today as they always have. And that is hurting their efforts.