Why You Should Publish Content for Entertainment Value Alone

by Pamela Vaughan

Date

June 4, 2013 at 9:00 AM

little-girl-with-lollipopIf I had to boil down the definition of high-quality content into one phrase, it'd be "content that provides value." I know. Super vague, right? The fact of the matter is, content quality depends on a variety of factors, and it's largely influenced by what's valuable to your particular audience.

But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that everyone loves to be entertained. Who doesn't love to laugh, smile, or be amazed? So if everyone loves being entertained, then a piece of content that entertains would be valuable, right? There's a reason entertainment value is an actual thing. I think you see where I'm going with this. 

Content That Purely Entertains Has Its Place, Too

We all have our guilty internet pleasures. For many of us at on the marketing team at HubSpot, one of these happens to be BuzzFeed. It may not be the most intellectual content we've ever consumed, but we can pretty much all agree that, on occasion, looking at some adorable pictures of ducklings can serve as a great intermission from our daily marketing activities. And for us, that's adding value.

Sometimes, you just need to look at some cute baby ducks. Other times, you need something more cerebral, like an article from the Harvard Business Review.

The point is, we're not slaves to any one type of content -- we all like variety. Just because you're into a site like HBR doesn't mean you're not also interested in content from a site like BuzzFeed. There's a time and a place for everything. Shouldn't you be using that to your advantage in your own content strategy?

Benefits of Content That Entertains 

There are quite a few benefits to publishing some content that is purely meant to entertain. Aside from taking advantage of people's diverse content consumption habits, here are some other big ones:

  • It Has the Potential to Blow Up the Internet: There's a reason BuzzFeed articles and memes are clogging up your Facebook News Feed. Entertaining content tends to get shared and linked to ... a lot. As a result, publishing content that entertains is a great way to grow your reach and expose yourself to new audiences who are valuable to you -- even if they never buy.
  • It Humanizes Your Brand and Makes You Lovable: It's so much easier to love a brand that makes you smile. Content that entertains brings you down to Earth, makes you relatable, and shows off your personality.
  • It Keeps Visitors on Your Site: Publishing content that appeals to a broader spectrum of your audience's content consumption behaviors can lead to longer times on-site and better audience engagement and retention. If your visitors can get some of their yucks on your site without having to navigate elsewhere, they'll probably spend more time there consuming your content, and they may even come back when they're specifically looking for content to entertain them.
  • It's .... fun: And I'm not just talking about it from the readers' perspective. Content that entertains also happens to be a lot of fun to create, too. Writing really meaty pieces of content day in and day out can take a lot out of you. And if you don't think we had fun collecting these truly awful examples of stock photography or crowdsourcing these random thoughts from our inbound marketing brethren, you're sorely mistaken.

Can Intellectual Content and Content That Entertains Co-Exist?

Let's back up a bit and address the question I'm sure you've all asked out loud at least once by now. The thing is, a site like BuzzFeed is in the business of entertainment. But we're talking about your business blog, which has other goals like thought leadership, education, and lead generation. Can you get away with -- and actually succeed with -- both intellectual content and content that entertains? The answer, my friend, is yes. You can publish a variety of different types of content.

One example that comes to mind is a little publication called Forbes. Forbes' website serves up everything from op-ed stories questioning whether Obama is America's worst president, to how-to posts about landing that job, to Game of Thrones episode reviews (warning: spoiler alert). And the fact that you can read up about the latest episode of GOT on the same website that challenges "Obamanomics" doesn't make the publication any less valuable. In fact, you could argue that it makes the publication even more valuable. Forbes knows that its readers have a variety of content interests, and it provides them with a way to satisfy those various content desires. That's nothing but a smart content strategy.

Tips for Publishing Content That Purely Entertains

Convinced that entertaining content can have a place in your content mix? Before you go off on a rampage of Photoshopping baby animals onto that industry influencer's head, here are some important things to consider.

Strike a Balance

Although it might be fun to create content that purely entertains, don't go overboard. I like to use the candy analogy here. You should be serving up a well-balanced diet of content to keep your readers full and nourished. But every once in a while, it's okay to give them some candy and let them indulge. Everything in moderation, as they say. This also means that if you normally publish five posts a week, three of them shouldn't be candy -- but one piece of candy probably makes a lot of sense. Test the waters, see how your audience reacts, and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Consider Timing 

In addition to striking the right balance, consider timing as a factor in when you publish your entertainment-focused content. What time of day and day(s) of the week does it make sense to entertain your audience? Think about your audience's content consumption habits and when in their day/week a piece of content that entertains would fit in. For example, we tend to plan our entertaining content for Friday afternoons or the middle-end of the day, when people are winding down or could use a break from some of the more intellectual content on the web.

Know Your Audience 

The interests of your audience is one of the major deciding factors for whether your entertainment-focused content is a hit or a miss. What types of content would actually entertain them? I can't really speak for them, but the folks at Forbes have probably done some analysis of its personas to know that many of its readers are the type of people who watch Game of Thrones. They probably also know that their readers probably aren't lounging around watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, so publishing an episode review of that particular show would be way off base. 

Make It Relevant 

Your entertainment content still needs to have some sort of relevancy to the focus of your business blog and your industry. Our awful stock photography examples post and our random marketing thoughts post may have been published mainly for their entertainment value, but the marketing tie-ins were still there. Without the relevancy factor, your entertainment content will seem like it's completely out of left field.

Make Sure It's Still High Quality

Creating content that purely entertains doesn't mean the criteria of quality can get tossed out the window. In these cases, quality will probably just takes different forms. If the entertainment value of a piece of content is that it's supposed to be funny, it actually has to be funny. If you're indeed Photoshopping baby animals onto that industry influencer's head, your Photoshopping skills better be top notch. Keep in mind that just because it's fun to create, doesn't mean it's easy. Being entertaining is a skill in and of itself.

Have you experimented with purely entertaining content? What other websites do a good job of publishing both intellectual content and content that entertains?

Image Credit: chris.vandyck

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