What does high quality content look like?


Content marketers, like me, tend to yammer on about how, in order to succeed in today’s  marketing environment, you’ve got to have high-quality content (or our new favorite catchphrase 10x content). But such admonitions are meaningless without context.

What is high-quality content, anyway? What does it look like?

When I run across an example of great content – a gripping headline, an inspiring image, a captivating video – I like to stuff it in my Pocket and save it for later. Pocket, in case you didn’t know, is a bookmarking app. Whenever I find something that intrigues me, I just click my browser extension and *poof* it’s stored. I can even tag it for easy sorting and retrieval.

Being that it’s the start of a new year, I thought I’d go ahead and clean out my Pocket. While doing so, I found some EXCELLENT examples of high-quality content.

So here it is, a list of the 12 best things I stuffed in my Pocket in 2016.

Woman with hand in pocket representing the high quality content I saved to the Pocket app.

Science Content

1. Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain

In this article, Olivia Goldhill discusses the science behind why multitasking makes you less productive and more irritable:

When we attempt to multitask, we don’t actually do more than one activity at once, but quickly switch between them. And this switching is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that’s needed to focus on a task.”

2. Open access: All human knowledge is there—so why can’t everybody access it?

This rather lengthy piece by Glyn Moody offers an in-depth look at the campaign for free public access to academic writing and scientific research:

It is possible today, thanks to the combined technologies of digital texts and the Internet. The former means that we can make as many copies of a work as we want for vanishingly small cost; the latter provides a way to distribute those copies to anyone with an Internet connection.

What’s stopping us?”

3. You are almost definitely not living in reality because your brain doesn’t want you to

In this eye-opener, Buster Benson explores the myriad of biases we are ALL susceptible to:

Every cognitive bias exists for a reason—primarily to save our brains time or energy.

If you look at these biases according to the problem they’re trying to solve, it becomes a lot easier to understand why they exist, how they’re useful, and the trade-offs (and resulting mental errors) that they introduce.”

Tech Content

4. Government lawyers don’t understand the Internet. That’s a problem.

Garrett M. Graff gives the lay person a look at why this seemingly esoteric issue is growing ever more relevant to the general public.

Too few lawyers have the skill set or the specialized knowledge to make sense of code, networks and the people who use them, and too few law schools are telling them what they need to know.

Today, cyber, data and privacy questions lie at the core of numerous corporate and government cases, and there aren’t anywhere near enough practicing lawyers who can adequately understand the complex issues involved, let alone who can sufficiently explain them in court or advise investigators on how to build a successful case.”

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5. Four hundred miles with Tesla’s autopilot forced me to trust the machine

You may never have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, but you can tag along with Lee Hutchinson as he gives a first-hand account of what it was like to take this futuristic machine from Houston to Austin:

I toggled on the auto-cruise and auto-steer, dialed the target speed up to 90mph and the desired follow distance to four cars, parked myself in the right lane, and pulled my hands slowly away from the wheel.

It takes a while to get used to this feeling. Instead of serving as the primary means of direction for a car, you’re now a meat-based backup and failsafe system. Instincts and impulses formed by more than two decades behind the wheel scream out a warning—’GRAB THE WHEEL NOW OR YOU’LL DIE’—while the rational forebrain fights back.”

Business & Economic Content

6. Confessions of a liar – Marketing in the era of authenticity (Video)

As a marketer, myself, this TEDx talk by Gina Balarin really hit home.

Did false advertising ever make you distrust a company or its marketing, by association? If so, you’re not alone. Gina Balarin, a Senior Marketing Director, talks about why now – our era of authenticity – is the best time in history to be in marketing. A self-confessed doubter in the honesty of advertising from an early age, Gina shares how marketing has grown up to a point where she’s now proud to help customers get what they really want – because finally, marketers actually know what it is!”

7. Time for a better capitalism

Henry Blodget makes a coherent, non-partisan argument for better employee wages and explains how economic inequality hurts the broader economy.

Beyond fairness and decency — the ethical decision to share more of the economic value a company creates with the people who devote their lives to creating it — the problem with the profit-maximization obsession is that it hurts the economy.


Because wages and investments at one company become revenue for other companies.”

Social Commentary

8. ‘Only White People,’ Said the Little Girl

Topher Sanders’ heartfelt account of how he and his family experience race in America is both moving and thought-provoking.

‘Not you, you’re black,’ said the girl, reaching out to touch my son. ‘You’re not white. Only white people can play.’

My instinct was to go over and drop science on her and all of the other little children.

Then I noticed my son. When the little racist girl reached out to touch him, he moved out of the way and laughed. He kept right on playing.”

9. Norway Proves That Treating Prison Inmates As Human Beings Actually Works

Baz Dreisinger takes readers inside one of Norway’s “open” prisons and discovers something very different from what most (Americans) might expect.

‘It doesn’t work. We only do it because we’re lazy,’ Tom said flatly. He was talking about the traditional prison system, where he was stationed for 22 years before running this open prison.

‘Our guys are into, pardon my French, some heavy shit. Drugs and violence. And the truth is, some have been problematic in other prisons but then they come here, and we find them easy. We say, ‘Is that the same guy you called difficult?’ It’s really very simple: Treat people like dirt, and they will be dirt. Treat them like human beings, and they will act like human beings.’”

Feel Good Content

10. The Encyclopedia Reader

Daniel A. Gross shares an uplifting story of an unlikely friendship that started with a quest for knowledge:

A few months ago, Robin Woods drove seven hours from his home, in Maryland, to visit a man named Mark Stevens, in Amherst, Massachusetts. The two had corresponded for years, and they’d spoken on the phone dozens of times. But they had never met in person.

When Woods first wrote to Stevens, in 2004, he was serving a sixteen-year prison sentence, in Jessup, Maryland, for breaking and entering. It was a book that had brought them together. ‘I never met you until today, but I love you very much,’ Woods told Stevens. ‘You’re a good man.’”

11. Construction Worker Hides Waldo On Site Everyday For Kids In Hospital Next Door To Find

This is just one of those feel-good stories that brightens up your day!

Haney, with the help of his daughter, created an 8-foot-tall cutout of Where’s Waldo and hides it on the [construction] site every day for the kids in the Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana to spot.”

12. Ornitographies (images)

These unique images of birds in flight, captured by photographer Xavi Bou are, in a word, stunning!

Ornitgraphie by Xavi Bou

Ornitgraphie by Xavi Bou


You may notice that none (or very little) of this content is branded. It’s not intended as “content marketing.” But high-quality content is high-quality content. We can learn plenty from the examples set by great storytellers of ANY industry or background.


Alexa Steele is an American copywriter specializing in content marketing. If you’re struggling to create high-quality content – the kind of content your audience wants to Pocket for later – please get in touch.

And if you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends and co-workers.


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