Defining Core Versus Premium Content

Last week when I was taking issue with a point of view around focusing on “campaign” content at the expense of a steady content marketing cadence I used a couple terms: “Core content” and “premium content.” I offered brief explanations in that post but wanted to take the chance to offer some more in-depth definitions of what I meant with those labels.

Core Content

Core content is the meat and potatoes of any content marketing program. It may not be flashy, but it’s the foundation the program is built on. Without it, for a variety of reasons, the entire construct will come crashing down.

What’s the Cadence

Ideally, core content is being published multiple times most every day of the week. There are countless examples of best practices from various companies that say you should post on Twitter no more than X times per day, on Facebook no more than X times per week and so on as well as which time periods are best. What I’ve found over the years is that while those are fine guideposts, the best results come from digging into the metrics and adjusting your own program accordingly. If you find you get more engagement when you post twice per day on Facebook, post twice per day, assuming you have the content to support that. Don’t be beholden to general tips at the expense of your own program’s success.

Where is It Coming From

Hopefully the legwork regarding content sources has been done long before you’re having a conversation about post cadence. A full content audit of an organization will uncover what kinds of news is being shared internally (e.g. is someone putting together a recap of relevant news for their department that you can tap into), what the usual schedule of product announcements and other news is, whether you can curate news from outside sources and more. Whether it’s internally- or externally-sourced, all of it should – or at least can – feed into the content program. The determination can then be made as to when and where to share that news based on timeliness, which audiences are most likely to be interested in the story and how similar stories have fared on various platforms.

What Are the Benefits

Here’s where it’s important to remember that not all social networks are created equal. This isn’t like RSS or email, where content lands in an aggregator and is viewed by the recipient at a time of their choosing, regardless of when it was delivered. Social networks move fast and quickly disappear posts. On Twitter updates are lost to the stream, on Facebook and Instagram they have to fight their way through the algorithm and could appear hours or even days after they’re published. So an approach that includes multiple posts throughout the day provides more opportunities to reach someone at the time they’re paying attention to their social networks. Regular posting also creates more touchpoints for people to latch onto. That post from two hours ago may not have been interesting to them, but this one they just saw now is and so they’ll RT it.

Not only is relevance and engagement a major benefit of an approach that includes core content but so is audience acquisition. All those touchpoints that give people new chances to RT and amplify your message also mean they’re exposing your messaging to their own network. That means you’re reaching a new audience and potentially making some of them your own. If you’re not publishing regularly, you’re not taking advantage of organic audience acquisition.

How Is Success Reported

The metrics pulled here should be evident: Engagement, click-throughs, network growth are all basic numbers that are based just on the social aspect of the program. Digging in a little deeper, though, numbers can be reported on site visits, lead conversions and more that speak more directly to business goals like sales, leads and more. Here’s another benefit of a daily, regular, organic publishing cadence: Reaching people with specific and actionable messages that go beyond “news” and include sales, signups and lots more.

Premium Content

By way of contrast, premium content is bigger in scale. These are the big pops of more substantially content that’s been planned for a longer period of time and is generally tied to something that’s larger scale than the news that trickles out of a company regularly.

What’s the Cadence

This is largely going to depend. I’ve seen programs that have launched a premium content execution every quarter and others that save their powder for a once-a-year major event. The key point here is that everyone involved is in agreement that some upcoming moment – an industry conference, the release of a major new study, a new product announcement – is worth pulling out all the stops for.

Where is It Coming From

Most likely these moments are being sourced internally. Again, they’re going to come from Marketing, which lets you know a big campaign is coming up, or Product, which lets you know a new item is being made available or something along those lines. This is why it’s so important, when you’re setting up a program and aligning stakeholders around goals, for that conversation to involve representatives from as many different departments as possible.

What Are the Benefits

These are the moments that only have the potential to become big because of the daily work that’s been done on the core content program. It’s largely through those efforts that you have the audience that will now turn its eyeballs to these bigger moments. There are the same potential benefits – sales, conversions, engagement, time-on-site etc – but you won’t achieve any of them if the audience isn’t there. Conversely, these big pops can support the core program as more people become attached to the brand’s profile and so on. The best premium content moments, I’ve found, come along with traditional press outreach efforts that can result in industry or general coverage, increasing the benefits for the program.

How Is Success Reported

Success can be found in many of the same numbers as for core content, though there may be specific metrics you’ll want to track and report on that are dependent on what form this premium execution has taken. So if it’s a whitepaper, you’ll want to track downloads. If it’s a VR experience you’ll be tracking views. If it’s an interactive timeline you’ll be tracking site stickiness and specific engagement points. Again, though, these metrics should be agreed upon by everyone involved before launch so everyone knows what success will look like.


In most everything I’ve laid out here I’m assuming the program being run is primarily focused on organic – meaning non-paid – content. Many advocates of the campaign-centric mindset rely on paid promotion of social posts to boost the reach of the program. In my experience paying for bigger moments is fine and certainly recommended. But if you’re relying on it to achieve any sort of substantial audience reach or engagement it’s because you’re making up for not doing the hard work that’s involved in running an organic content program with a regular publishing cadence.

There are some who eschew the “core” and “premium” labels in favor of something like “Hero, hub and hygiene” but I’ve found the definitions don’t quite match up and are indicative of a different approach. Not worse, but different and not quite analogous to what I’ve laid out here. That’s a post for a different time.

Author: Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.