The Biggest Danger to Content Marketing

I spend too much time trying to curate content to share in social media. I see an interesting link, click it and run into crap content. Excuse my rare cussing, but that’s what it is. In New Data Indicates Twitter Users Don’t Always Click the Links They Retweet, Dan Zarella explains part of the problem. He reports that 16.12 percent of the tweets with links produced more retweets than clicks. This means that many folks often retweet a tweet with a link without clicking the link.

The danger of blind linking

Most people retweet a link without clicking it. Are you kidding? The first problem is that people retweeting unchecked links could unknowingly share sucky or — heaven forbid — tasteless content. They waste time for everyone who clicks the link. That’s not being a good social media citizen. You can’t judge good content from the carefully crafted and often misleading title or brief description accompanying the link.

Second, people finally get that content marketing works, so now everybody does it. And a lot of the content offers z-value. Z as in zero, zilch, zippo.

Danger! Loads of crap ahead!

It’s bad.

Really bad.

So bad that Doug Kessler created an awesome presentation called “Crap. Why the single best threat to content marketing is content marketing.” See? He and I agree: It’s all crap.

Go ahead and check it out. I’ll wait here. In fact, I’d rather you view all the slides if you had to choose between this article and his slides.

All those marketing and search engine optimization shops and agencies that didn’t focus on content before have suddenly anointed themselves as content mavens. (Side note: I used “content maven” in my biography before the “maven” thing started popping all over.) They string together a bunch of keywords and decree it as content. Or they rehash what hundreds of other articles already said. Or they state the obvious.

Content is NOT king … when it’s crap

Forgive me for this subheader. I’m also sick of the content is king or queen cliché, but this screamed for it. What should we do with all this?

Simple: Stop. Creating. Bad. Content.

Stop churning article after white paper after report like a machine.

Think about those email offers you get. Complimentary report. Complimentary webinar. Complimentary this. Complimentary that. Free don’t mean a thing if the content ain’t got that swing.

I’ve downloaded too many and opened a handful. I bet you have too. Of those I open, most go to the recycle bin to dissolve into nonexistent data. Then I lose respect for the company for wasting my time.

Several well-known websites whip out content daily with cunning titles that hypnotize you. Granted, we all have off days. Even I’ve written content that I wouldn’t share again. However, these sites did it often enough that I’ve stopped visiting them. Fool me once, I’ll let it go. Fool me five-ish times, kiss my clicks goodbye.

So how do we create awesomesauce content?

Are you willing to treat content like a marathon instead of a sprint? A journey instead of the destination? A leisurely ride instead of a shortcut?

Bad news. Creating valuable content is only part of the equation. If you read Kessler’s presentation, you know what to do next. (Editor’s note: Also read “The Other Gap” for the rest of the equation.)

6 ways to build a great content brand

Here’s the CliffsNotes version of Doug Kessler’s six principles of great content brands:

  1. Be the buyer. Know your prospect inside out (with clothes on).
  2. Be authoritative. Because valuable and interesting beat fluff, unless it’s marshmallows.
  3. Be strategic. Know who, what, when and all that.
  4. Be prolific. Hire good writers and designers. (My favorite, of course.)
  5. Be passionate. When you care, good content spills out. (This article … I hope.)
  6. Be tough on yourself. Exterminate, delete and rewrite until you produce good stuff. (Yes, I’m a “Doctor Who” fan.)

Let’s all turn great content into a good virus so that the links we share lead to great stuff more often than not. In the meantime, I’ll continue sifting through the deluge of crap for gold to share with followers.

Original published in The Professional Services Journal.

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