With the exhortations for everyone to deliver content to frantically attract eyeballs, or engage with their audiences, or build enchantment, or however it’s framed, do we ask frequently enough whether the content itself is worthwhile?

The other day I heard Julie King of Biz-Zone present on social media for associations, and she did a nifty demonstration of how to generate little nuggets of content – she simply took a photo of the audience and pointing out that she could then tweet that, post it on Facebook, etc.

Julie creatively made the point that content doesn’t necessarily need to be intimidatingly sophisticated, but it got me thinking – who cares about your content? How many people will really want to see that photo of themselves – let alone strangers – sitting in a hotel conference room listening to a presentation? We’ve all seen the round tables with white tablecloths before. Sometimes it could be fun to be tagging people in photos, but is our ability to document and share outstripping our performance of activities worth documenting so exhaustively?

A few weeks ago I attended the Professional Convention Manager’s Association Convening Leaders conference virtually, so we had the chance to merrily comment away in a chat window as we listened to the presentations (sidebar: one of the best conference experiences I’ve ever had). At one point a presenter talked about what a shame it is that engagement with an association tends to peak during a conference and drop afterwards. One of my fellow virtual delegates pointed out that they didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. What gives us the right to think that people should remain so intensely engaged with us after an event has taken place? An excellent question. Maybe it’s entirely OK for people to be engaged more intensely for a brief period and then less so or not at all. Your attempts to engage should correspond to their rhythms  and priorities.

It comes back to an intimate knowledge of your audience and a sense of what they might find valuable. It requires, as ever, attention to quality, timeliness, relevance, and brevity. Start with the question of who might care about what you have to say, and what their needs and priorities are, and build your content strategy based on that.

I tend to work with people whose companies and organizations want to build long-term relationships with customers, members, and partners. I’m writing this because I know a lot of you are struggling with questions of how to be compelling, how to earn people’s attention and retain their willingness to engage with you, your company, or your organization.

I could be wrong about how compelling this is, of course, which makes it all the harder to write – and edit.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.