Content Marketing 101: Why Context is the New King

January 21, 2016 Content Marketing 3 comments

Content Marketing Gary Vaynerchuk quote

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Gary Vaynerchuk once famously said that “If Content is King, then Context is God.”

Indeed in the world of content and social media marketing, context matters a whole lot. The best content in the world would fail miserably if it is crafted and disseminated without any consideration of the context surrounding it.

But what exactly does context mean?

Understanding Context

According to Business Dictionary, context can be defined in two ways:

  1. Background, environment, framework, setting, or situation surrounding an event or occurrence.
  2. Circumstances under which a document was created, including its function, purpose, use, time, the creator, and the recipient.

As you can see, context is quite a wide ranging topic. Practically everything under the Sun can be included. Context covers an entire gamut of factors influencing how a piece of content is perceived and received by one’s targeted customer, and how he or she acts upon receiving it.

What does context cover and why are these factors important in content marketing?

10 Factors Shaping Context

Let us look at 10 of the contextual factors influencing consumers, and outline why they are important in considering how we create, curate and distribute content as part of our marketing efforts.

Note that while some of these areas do overlap with each other, it is useful to consider them separately in our analyses.

#1 Geography

“Location, location, location!” That old war cry of realtors everywhere rings true in content marketing.

While we may all be connected 24/7 via the Internet, one’s immediate surroundings still play a key role in determining one’s receptivity to content.

Physical elements like the size of countries, climate, weather, seasons, and topography affect the priorities of populations. Beyond these, the impact of climate change and natural disasters (or lack thereof) also influence how people seek out and consume content.

#2 Economy

A region’s progress in economic development influences how affluent its population will be. This in turn will determine their priorities in terms of needs, wants and desires.

The wealth of a country, state or city determines the kind of infrastructure available, education of its population, and tastes in food, fashion, transport, and other services. These considerations need to be reflected in how we create and distribute content.

#3 Culture

Culture is the 800 pound gorilla. It covers virtually every aspect of a population’s life – values, beliefs, religions, languages, traditions, rites and rituals.

Beyond ethnic and national cultures, different generations may also have different cultures. What may appeal to a Baby Boomer or Gen X-er may be viewed as “fuddy duddy” by a millennial or post-millennial youth.

#4 Politics

Love it or loathe it, politics plays a key role in our lives. One’s political leanings – left or right, democratic or socialist, liberal or conservative – will affect the kind of content which we consume. Civil societies and activist groups also play a huge role in politics, especially when they exert their impact online.

Beyond the ballot box, politics also takes place in our workplaces, schools, societies and homes. It exists in every situation where people congregate.

#5 Timing

Timing can sometimes be everything.

An ill-timed “viral tweet” aimed to capitalise on a major news item may generate a huge backlash. This could be seen in the recent example of how BreadTalk got slammed when it created a bun to commemorate the death of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

On the flip side, choosing the right kind of tasteful content to coincide with a developing news item could also help to elevate it to the giddy heights of organic virality.

#6 Events

In a related fashion, international, national and local events play a big role in how content will be received. These could be anything from concerts by rock stars, political elections, to the launch of new facilities.

Sports play a major role here – from the World Cup and Olympic Games to boxing championship fights. I am sure many of you have watched or followed the tweets when Manny Pacquiao fought (and lost) against Floyd Mayweather!

#7 Media

The role of media, both mainstream and social, cannot be understated. Beyond the choice of content channels and platforms, media influences consumer thoughts, feelings and perceptions in a huge way.

From the editorial coverage to advertising, media is a powerful shaper of public opinions, values and beliefs. Thus, it is critical for you to understand the balance of powers between different media channels – TV, radio, newspapers, websites, social media – and how their content shape consumer behaviour.

Finally, content marketers need to consider the challenge of information clutter. How can you make that prized piece of content stand out against the overwhelming online avalanche?

#8 Technology

Content consumption is closely related to the available technologies. Beyond the digital devices we use to consume content, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop or television, issues like the speed of broadband transmission and also play a role.

A key thing to consider in this day and age is mobile friendliness. By now, many of you would have read how Google’s recent changes in search algorithm favours mobile friendly websites (termed the “Mobilegeddon”). The friendliness of content and how they are viewed on smaller screens is another key factor.

#9 Customer

The study of consumer and client characteristics is so huge that it fills multiple books. In the context of content marketing, however, we can possibly narrow it down to three key factors:

  • Demographics – age, location, education, income, sex (and sexuality), institutions, etc
  • Psychographics – motivations, attitudes, perceptions, affiliations and behaviours
  • Transactional history – whether the customer is a prospect or an existing customer, and his or her past interactions with your company and its brands
  • Customer buying journey – at which stage of a customer’s buying process does your content come in? Awareness? Consideration? Trial? Purchase? Experience? or Post purchase?

#10 Brand Heritage

Last, but certainly not least, who you are determines how your content is being received. If your company has been a pillar of society over the past few decades, it is quite likely that trust, goodwill and respect will be earned. This will also make it easier for your content to be consumed, believed, and acted upon by prospects.

Are there other contextual factors influencing one’s efforts in content marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Content will be not interested without a good context. I could not think of any other factor in making a context. This article may contain the most complete factors in making a context. Nice work.

  2. I totally agree that many people don’t write for the local audience. Instead, they write for a larger segmented of audience and end up with less traffic/potentials. Your insights are brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

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