Be mindful of the content marketing trap
A lot of my recent posts, and indeed a lot of what I read at the moment, are focussed around content creation and content marketing. I for one have been promoting it as the last bastion of marketing, an area where you can really and genuinely create the inbound effect and be valuable to your customers and users at the same time.
A colleague mentioned Doc Searls (of The Cluetrain Manifesto fame) during a conversation yesterday and it prompted me to remember that content alone is a dead end for real engagement and it's an easy trap to fall into. Indeed, much of the content and social media marketing that we see and hear about seem to have a very linear goal, to end with a Facebook Like or a click, or for the SEO focussed amongst us, an inbound link. Where's the engagement in that, the brand experience that I'm itching to share on your behalf?
There's a lot of content created in lieu of, or as a part of, a fully fledged social media strategy, too much maybe, and though content is great in principal it does come with a question we need to keep asking on behalf of the intended audience - why?
Are you just going through the motions? I think this is an important thing to keep asking across all marketing, and especially when we're investing in creating and marketing content...
- Why videos?
- Why ebooks?
- Why blogs?
- Why posts and tweets?
A brand experience
It's more than a click, more than "a viral" because you're seeking to engage in multiple dimensions. I was google-ing around this subject and came across this post by a guy called Bob Knorpp who I've not found before (but he's clearly smarter than I am!), in the US. He says this:
"When we set out to create digital stories, maybe it's time we left behind old models completely. Instead of looking for ways to get eyeballs on our videos or clicks to our pages, maybe we need more focus on creating multilayered experiences that keep people involved, immersed and interacting"
Seems to make sense, I think, I certainly couldn't say it any better than that. Remember who your audience is, what they value and figure how can you meet their unmet needs. Of course content still matters, just not for the sake of it and not the whole part of it. After all, the curse of any marketer is seeking a magic bullet.
Content is the fuel, or the social object
Personally, I feel that creating great (relevant, valuable) content is a direct way to create those brand interactions, to be the social objects, and still benefit a considered search engine optimisation strategy at the same time. People are able to discover, learn, comment and share. How much more social can you get than that? Content provides a way to be found online, great content is not only worth finding but has sharing baked in by its nature of being great. I've mentioned social objects before in the wider sense, and content provides a very effective object for people to interact with, to add to and enrich.
Just answer why
Does your content have real purpose for your audience outside of your own goals or is it meaningless marketing fodder that further creates noise across the 'net and gets in the way of those you thought you were helping? Thankfully, it's a simple question to answer. What do you say?