WHAT IS SUBSTANCE?
If you take a photo, it represents a real moment in time.
Friends see pictures and say, “tell me about what happened,” not “what camera setting did you use, and who took it?”
A photo is a representation of a real thing that happened, so it is inherently less important than what it points to.
There is substance in the moment captured, not the capture of the moment.
The same should be the case for any business selling anything, and particularly the content strategy around its promotion.
Substance exists outside of what you say, so content should point beyond itself.
Think about it: what good is content that doesn’t inspire, change a mind, provoke action, or invite you to think about something bigger than you reading the post?
This is why I hate 90% of viral videos. They get talked about, shared, liked and retweeted. And at the end of it all, the only question asked is, “did you see that video!?” This lasts a week–it’s shallow and temporary. These days, new apps, services, and sites are popping up everywhere with a bunch of hype. I’m worried we’re talking so much about the means and methods and tools in our lives that we’re missing how these actually contribute anything to our well-being.
Where there is substance there is success. The popularity of viral videos actually used to solve real problems would be a recipe for everybody to win.
My favorite example of this is Google’s one-and-only Super Bowl ad from 2009, “Parisian Love.” There is no other commercial like it–sparse grand piano and tasteful sound effects accent a story of a man searching his way to love across the world. It is emotional, compelling, and friendly, while pushing the product (Google search) only as far as it helps people.
Google knows how to do this well; they show you something you already want and help you achieve it.
Such is the case for all content with substance–it highlights what is beyond itself.
Are you selling just for you, or are you helping someone reach their destination?
It’s like C.S. Lewis said:
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.