by Jason DeMers
You have hundreds of variables to consider when writing content. Who is your audience? What is your end goal? What kind of length and topic are you targeting? Will you include any additional types of media?
But one of the most important questions is a high-level one, and one that’s often overlooked: is it better for your campaign to focus on “wide” content, which appeals to a larger target audience, or “deep” content, which focuses on a specific niche?
Defining the Difference
First, I want to clarify the difference between these two broad categories of content.
Wide content typically covers a broad topic, with articles that remain high-level. For example, you might see an article about how to become more productive, with lots of tips on how to manage your time or adopt time-saving habits. This content could apply to almost anyone, yet still offers opportunities for research and details.
Deep content typically focuses on a much narrower topic, digging into the nitty-gritty details of a specific niche. For example, to contrast with an article about general productivity habits, you might see an article listing time-saving strategies specifically for Gmail users. This content dives into more detail than its wider counterpart, but its audience is far more limited.
As you might imagine, there are advantages to each approach.
Wide Content Advantages
Let’s look at the benefits of wide content:
Mass appeal. Audience potential is the biggest advantage of wide content. Because you’ll be writing more generically, there aren’t any limiting factors to funnel your audience. Assuming you’re pushing the article to 10,000 people via social media, you’ll have a chance at capturing the attention of, say, 8,000 of them, thereby increasing your sphere of influence—and the potential value of your piece.
Limitless topic potential. Wide content is also useful because it lends itself to practically infinite topic generation. For example, consider how many blog topics you could come up with for “car care” versus “care for a 1968 Chevy Impala.” The deeper you dig into a given niche, the smaller your range of topics is going to be.
Ease of writing. Most writers find it easier to write wide topics than deep topics. They require less research, since they don’t venture as deeply into each subject, and the research they do require is readily available—deep topics are sometimes nearly impossible to effectively research. On top of that, since you’re writing for a general audience, you won’t have as many considerations for tone and vocabulary.
Deep Content Advantages
Deep content has its share of advantages as well:
Less competition. The biggest problem with wide content is that because it’s so approachable and so widely appealing, it’s heavily done. There’s a ton of competition for almost every conceivable “wide” topic out there, which means your chances of visibility are smaller due to increased competition. Deep content immediately gives you less competition to deal with.
Easy authority building. Because you’re digging into details people probably haven’t heard before, you’ll likely find it easier to build trust and authority with deep content. In the span of a handful of articles, you can prove that you know what you’re talking about, and if you have a whole site dedicated to this niche, people won’t be able to argue with your expertise.
High relevance. Recall my example of marketing to 10,000 social media followers. With wide content, you might be able to reach 8,000 of them, but you won’t resonate with them on an impactful level because your topic is so general. With deep content, you might only reach 1,000 of them, but those 1,000 will be eager to read what you have to say on the topic—it will be something they care deeply about.
High retention. For similar reasons, sites with deep content tend to attract more reader loyalty than those that focus exclusively on wide content. They won’t have many competitors to turn to, and they won’t stumble upon your content by accident.
Key Strategies for Success
While there’s no clear victor here, there are some key strategies that can help you make the most of each type of content:
Use deep content to start. If you’re just starting a content marketing campaign, consider gravitating toward deep content to start. Because it affords you lower competition, and makes authority building a cinch, you may find it to be an easier point of entry. You can always zoom out to wider content as needed.
Consider your competition. Look at your competitors, and how aggressive they are in the realm of content marketing. If you’re covering a relatively new niche, or if you don’t have competitors in content marketing, you may do fine with wide content. If competition is abundant, deep content may be better.
Use wide content for publisher appeal. If you’re interested in becoming a guest author and getting featured in various outside publications, you’ll probably do better with wide content. Wide content is “safer,” and doesn’t require you to have in-depth knowledge on a topic, so long as you’re an effective communicator. Think of it as the Bill Nye the Science Guyversion of a scientific research journal.
Know your audience. Finally, keep your brand’s target audience in mind before leaning one way or the other. Are your readers seasoned veterans in need of a challenging read? Or are they everyday consumers who are hearing about your niche for the first time?
Most businesses do best with a mix of wide and deep content, perfectly customized for their unique position. As long as you’re aware of how each can be implemented, and you play each type of content to its own strengths, you’ll stand a higher chance of success in the content field.