My husband Paul and I finally took our sons to the much-lauded Perot Museum of Science and Nature. Lane, the new high schooler, wasn’t thrilled about going. (“Why did I have to come?” Grumble, grumble.) He’d rather stay home and play video games. His younger brother Zachary, the bookish one, couldn’t wait.
I didn’t have high hopes that Lane would find an exhibit he’d like. You know teens. They make up their minds they don’t want to do something and stick with it. The three of us went our merry way checking out the interactive exhibits with Lane tagging along. At the end of the day, Paul reported the gems and minerals (read: rocks) exhibit captivated our teen son. He’s always been fascinated with rocks. Every time he’d go to the museum with Grandma, he’d come home with a couple of rocks. (We also let him buy one — much, much smaller than the 5 1/2-foot one in the photo. — more like five centimeters.)
You have to applaud the museum curators. Unlike many businesses, museums have a broad target audience as people of all ages and backgrounds visit. They serve single adults, married couples with no kids, seniors. The whole gamut. Yet they curate exhibits to ensure visitors have at least one that grips them. The curators pulled off a biggie in finding one for the pickiest, disinterested teen.
Danger! Watch Out for the Crap Content Avalanche
Sharp content curators are like museum curators. They think of their audience when they curate and select resources. We may not be creating content from scratch, but it takes as much time and effort panning for in the massive content mine since content marketing became the hottest thing. Content marketing has been around for a long time. It didn’t have a fancy name until now. Props to Hank Stroll, one of my first clients, for introducing me to the secret of sharing valuable — not promotional — content in 2001. (Not a typo.)
Folks realize that content marketing works when done right (they forget about the “when done right” part), so everyone does it and most without creating a strategy. That’s why we’re flooded with content that provides zero, zilch, zippo value.
Because of this, most of the time when we click an interesting link, we hit crap. (Sorry for cussing — it’s the best word.) The biggest danger to content marketing is the load of crap content.
Insanity! Retweeting Blind
Dan Zarella explains part of the problem in New Data Indicates Twitter Users Don’t Always Click the Links They Retweet. He says that 16 percent of the tweets with links resulted in more retweets than clicks. In English: folks retweeted a tweet with a link without checking out the link! Yikes! These folks share unchecked links, and some could lead to tasteless or spammy content. (It has happened enough that I encountered malware.)
Why retweet without checking the link first? No one can judge content based on the painstakingly crafted titles or deceptive descriptions accompanying the links. Good social media citizens don’t waste people’s time with lousy resources.
Stop! Nix the Content Assembly Line
So what can we do about it?
Stop. Creating. Crap. Content.
Stop spewing article after article, report after report, white paper after white paper like an automaton.
Isn’t your inbox flooded with email offers? You know the free e-book, free report, free webinar, free here, free there, free everywhere. Free don’t mean a thing if the content ain’t got that swing.
I bet you’ve downloaded a lot of those complimentary offers and opened few. I have. They collect e-dust until it comes time to do a little file cleaning. Then I go Cyberman all over them and delete, delete, delete them. (Yes, I’m a “Doctor Who” fan.) The company producing the content also loses credibility.
Many well-known (and somehow respected) websites generate content with slick titles that mesmerize you. Yes, we writers all have off days. Me included. Nonetheless, these websites did it too often and onto my “don’t visit list” they went. Fool me once, I’ll give you a couple more chances. Fool me six-ish times, kiss my clicks and eyeballs goodbye.
Help! How Do We Build Great Content?
Think of the content process like a journey not the destination. A leisurely route not a shortcut. A marathon not a sprint.
Creating content that’s worth reading is only half of the success formula. Doug Kessler did a bloody fabulous job with the Six Principles of Great Content Brands. This rounds out the rest of the content success formula.
6 Ways to Build a Great Content Brand (the short version):
- Be the buyer. Know your prospect inside out (with clothes on).
- Be authoritative. Because beneficial and fascinating beat fluff, unless it contains marshmallows.
- Be strategic. Create a content strategy so you deliver the right content, to the right folks in the right place at the right time.
- Be prolific. Tap great writers and designers. (My fave, of course.)
- Be passionate. Great content is contagious when you care. (This post … yes?)
- Be hard on yourself. Rewrite, nix, exterminate and delete until you produce hot piping content goodness.
Content oughta be a great virus so that when we click links, they lead us to tasty content worth gobbling down. Meanwhile, I shall keep on curating through the mountain of crap for the diamonds worth sharing in the museum of social media. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find some winners for those finicky Lanes.
What do you think of content marketing? What does it take to succeed?