By now many of us have been doing content marketing long enough that we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. But they do say that mistakes have value, right? Our successful moments can at least partially be attributed to the fact that we’ve had less successful ones first—and they’ve ultimately helped us become better at what we do.
Despite all we’ve learned, there’s a long way to go. Most organizations would say they’re still working to perfect their content marketing. Listed below are five content marketing minefields that have been deemed fatal by the collective. We put these forth as a helpful shortcut to anyone striving to be better—you can go ahead and skip these mistakes. (Or, if you’re a sucker for punishment, we won’t try to stop you from doing them.)
- Publish content and let it die on the vine. There’s more to content than simply producing it. Step 1: Write. Step 2: Promote. If you’re not doing step 2, you’re leaving the task unfinished. In fact, step 1 becomes practically a wasted effort. No one who isn’t actively looking will find your content. Promotion can be thought of in two ways: short-term and long-term. Getting people to read your latest blog is key, but so is building an audience that respects what you have to say and seeks out your content. You should be mindful of both, and create strategies for both. Content marketing is a process, not a product.
- Interrupt the conversation. Think of it this way: If your readers are walking down a city street, is your content like the ad on the side of a giant bus whizzing by, or is it walking in concert with your readers, and part of their conversation? If you know your audience well, you should be providing content that naturally fits into their lives, so they find it useful and want to talk about it. Find out what they’re already talking about so you can tailor your content and your brand to fit. That doesn’t mean there’s never a time for interruption, just that it shouldn’t be your main strategy.
- Offer “light and fluffy” content. Tossing candy floss content at all corners of the Internet guarantees overworked writers, but certainly not readers. Readers will only truly engage with content that captures their attention and provides value. Length doesn’t matter. What questions are your readers looking to answer? What insights would be most useful to them? What can you do to help them achieve their goals? The more your content can do to answer these questions, the better. Otherwise, it’s useless chatter.
- Separate your content marketing from the rest of your operations. Today’s customer journey takes place across a number of different channels, so your content marketing shouldn’t be a solo act—it needs to carry customers naturally from one venue to the next. Your content marketing strategy should seamlessly blend with your public relations and digital efforts. Your website, for example, might feature clever content marketing stories that also incorporate social media buttons, stunning photography, exquisite design and product information, all rolled into one. To do this effectively, no one in-house team should “own” the content marketing strategy; it should be a joint effort spearheaded by representatives from all areas of the business.
- Be afraid. If you’re sticking with the safe route, simply trying not to wake any sleeping giants, you’re probably not making any inroads when it comes to growing your brand. The best content marketing strategies eat conflict for breakfast! Not everyone may agree with you all the time, but if your preferred audience does, then that’s OK. Become an authority in your subject area, and position yourself as such. Strive to make a statement that will stick with your customers, and add something to their lives. In fact, your content marketing strategy might benefit from a sprinkle of Eleanor Roosevelt’s attitude: Do one thing every day that scares you. What might that be for your content? Find it, and do it.
There’s a lot more mistakes where these came from, many of which you’ve probably already discovered on your own. What were some of your biggest mistakes? Share in the comments below.
Meredith DeSousa is a Content Producer and Quality Control Editor for Content Boost, the content marketing division of TMC. Tasked with creating and editing custom copy for clients, she is also a regular contributor to our corporate website. Prior to joining Content Boost, Meredith spent 15 years in the editorial departments of various book publishing companies, including Scholastic Library, Taunton Press, and Simon & Schuster, as an editor and copyeditor. She also worked briefly in the field of education as a library media specialist. When she’s not writing or editing, Meredith loves traveling, reading, and watching (or making!) movies—a byproduct of her undergraduate degree in broadcast communications from Pennsylvania State University.