How TED Uses Content To Spread Incredible Ideas

Across the internet today, where  “originality” is abundant,  TED videos are notiecably different.

Among a sea of Youtube webcam clips, TED videos are crystal clear. The ideas are clearly presented. The angles are shot with incredibly high quality cameras. And the speakers are brilliant, innovative, and passionate.

Basically, the non-profit idea conference and website has chosen to take the high road. In doing this, they’ve unintentionally created a hub of intellectually exciting ideas that  blow away competition.Many would argue that TED has pioneered  a change in the flow of intellectual ideas as sharable content.

I agree completely – so when I recently chatted with Deron Triff, the conference’s director of Content Distribution, I tried to understand where TED’s magic is rooted, and how other content creators can tap into it. Luckily, he was nice enough to offer some tips on how TED’s content is so damn mesmerizing.


“TED Content is more about essence than mechanics. Instead of trying to figure out why it works, we just stay true to the TED principals and trust that our audience will be interested.”

TED content’s main differentiation is the non-profit’s high standards for quality. Therefore, brand consistency is their most important dashboard measurement. If a video is less than ideal for internet publishing, they don’t use it, even if it would bring additional traffic or SEO. This doesn’t mean don’t measure analytics – just remember to trust your gut if the content is sub-par. Your audience will appreciate.

“ Our audience is curious, and wants to participate in bigger thinking. TED’s culture is really pop culture that’s intelligent, which is rare – so it catches their eye.”

Your customers base their content consumption on different mind sets. In TED’s case, the’ve chosen to target them at their most inquisitive. This should not be everyone’s strategy – but pick something that fits a real emotion that your viewers might be feeling. Whether its financial insecurity or pre-party excitement, try to create content that adheres to this.

“Unlike in a more traditional conference talk, a speaker has only 18 minutes to make their entire point. This forces the speaker to just pack it in – to be precise, and to be riveting. And there’s something magical about the structure – speakers truly give the talk of their life.”

Internet culture is based on brevity – unlike a print audience, internet content creators need to capture instantly, or they will just continue to browse. Shorter is by no means easier – in fact, many would argue it’s a more challenging task. So by maintaining this necessary precision, TED forces experts to make their lives’ work comprehensible to the masses, and consequentially captures the attention of a much broader audience. It’s a win win that’s worth replicating.

“It’s funny, because these are lectures – and lectures have never been hits on the Internet, or really outside of academic settings. But in my opinion, TED talks are so different than a lecture. Each one is so personal, more like an interview.”

The lesson here is that there are no official rules to innovative content. Be bold – take an idea, and flip it on it’s head. Combine schools of though that have never been paired before. Pull on heartstrings that viewers didn’t know they had.. Lectures are in no way “sexy” – but TED doesn’t care. Neither should you, if you can create something worth checking out.

“We deeply believe in content that inspires, that makes us think about world around us. TED’s goal is to expose people to big ideas about humanity – and to let you walk away with a truly changed  perspective.”

Don’t settle. The idea behind TED is huge, but they manage to deliver on it consistently. If your brand is rooted in a big idea, your content should reflect that message unapologetically. And don’t stop. That way, your customers will believe it too.

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