Oprah’s Law of Content

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

By Elizabeth Moreno

The legendary Oprah Winfrey recently gave her very first wide ranging podcast interview on The Hollywood Reporter's 'Awards Chatter' podcast. The entire episode is well worth listening to as it offers an intimate and insightful glimpse into the life of perhaps the world’s most famous living woman. Throughout the interview she recounts her experiences growing up in rural Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, how she landed her first job in journalism at the age of 16, all the way to building the Winfrey "empire."

Around minute 37:30, Oprah shared what she saw as one of her early drivers for the success of the show—an insight anyone involved in marketing can learn from.

"I brought all my producers in and I said, ‘We are not going to do a show that we do not think about what is our intention for doing it.’…..So I’d go to the ideas meeting and I’d say, ‘By every suggestion or idea I want the intention for doing it. You don’t have an intention? Don’t bring it to me.’ And I enforced that idea, which became rule, which became law."

She went on to explain that anything they put on air had to pass this test of adding value to the lives of their audience members. 

"When someone would bring me an idea I would say, ‘Where does this show fit in with the mission and what is the intention, specifically? Are you trying to uplift? Are you trying to inform? Are you trying to entertain?’"

Oprah credits this "law" of identifying the intention of the content they produced as a driving factor in the show's 25 season successful run. 

"The reason that this show was so successful—like beyond—in its connection to the audience is because we talked about that every day."

In the social media world, many organizations and businesses get too preoccupied with filling up their content calendar that they lose sight of WHY they're posting what their posting. This results in a page of content that may be on topic for their niche, but isn't necessarily generating growth or furthering their cause.  

Social media is driven by engagement, and to drive engagement you MUST add value. We humans are pretty good at sniffing inauthenticity. A post that looks like it was added to fill up your posting schedule will get scrolled right past, while a post that is crafted to connect with your audience is far more likely to spark an interaction. A post that genuinely inspires someone, makes them laugh, feel empowered, gives them tools they can use, or makes them think about an issue they care about differently has the potential to drive Oprah-level engagement. 

So the next time you go to post an article or photo on your social media page or publish something to your blog, simply stop, pause, and ask yourself if your post passes Oprah’s law of content:

What is my intention with this post, specifically? Am I trying to uplift? Am I trying to inform? Am I trying to entertain?”

And as Oprah might say, “You don’t have an intention? Don’t post it.”