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October 5, 2016 Content Marketing

The Worst Advice About Content We’ve Ever Heard

Create content, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. So you started – and then you found it wasn’t all that easy. The fact is, “they” lied. “They” lie about a lot of things.

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If you love what you do and you’re passionate about your business, creating content can be fun; it can be satisfying. But more than anything, creating even the minimum amount of content is work. Take blogging for example: Blogging is a commitment – like marriage; and like marriage, it takes some effort to keep it going. Also like a marriage, if you can’t make it work, it’ll cost you. You may not lose half of your stuff, but you may lose leads and customers. The bottom line is that businesses absolutely should blog: If your business doesn’t have a blog, people may just go elsewhere for information.

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Beyond blogging, content can include video, podcasts, webinars, ebooks, white papers, social media… and so on. You see where I’m going here? It’s a whole wheelbarrow full of work. Of course, there is a whole wheelbarrow full of “experts,” “gurus,” “ninjas,” and Jedi masters who claim to have good advice on how best to create content.

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But it’s not always good advice; in fact, sometimes the advice these self-styled “content ninjas” give is downright bad.

Here is some of the worst advice about content that we’ve heard:

1. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, just be sure to create and post A LOT of content.

It does, and you shouldn’t.

Have you ever been to IKEA? There’s a lot of stuff there. You could wander around one of their ginormous warehouses for hours, but maybe you’re really busy and you don’t have time for that. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t want – maybe that Kivik sofa doesn’t fit your house or you’re not crazy about the Poäng chair, so why spend hours and hours searching when there might not be anything you like. So, instead of going to IKEA to browse, you get an IKEA catalog and find what you like. Then you go there with a mission: now you know what you want and you know you can find it there. And when you want more, you can always go back.

If you have a warehouse full of content that people aren’t interested in because it’s not educational, engaging, entertaining or relevant, people aren’t going to bother to come back. They will come back if they know you’ll have what they want or need. And the more they come back, the closer they are to becoming a lead.

The truth: Create consistently good, relevant content regularly to get the best results.

2. You should be on all of the social media sites. That’s what everybody does.

No, no they don’t.

You should be where your potential customers are – and I can guarantee you they aren’t all on ALL of the social media platforms. First, there are scores of social media sites and at least a dozen major ones; being on all of them? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Second, why fish where there are no fish? Why would you put time and effort on say, Snapchat, when your target audience is 40+? They won’t be there. Do some research, find out where your target audience is, and focus on a few of the sites they’re on. Experiment. Expand or contract as needed. If one doesn’t work for you, try another. Even though social media is now a big part of marketing efforts these days, there’s no one tried-and-true formula for success. And if “they” tell you there is, don’t believe it

The truth: Find out where your customers are and concentrate on posting good content to a few sites instead of mediocre (or worse) content on a whole bunch of them.

3. Leave the social media to the intern. Kids are naturals at social media.

Child_social_media.jpgI’ve heard this a million times. Yes, it’s cheaper to have the intern or the new kid do the social media and yes, kids are native social media users. But there’s a difference between social media and social media marketing. It’s like the difference between a family van and a race car. Same platform, very different uses – and different levels of expertise required.

Here are a few of the skills and knowledge a social media marketer should possess:

  • Writing and strong command of the language
  • Business experience
  • Strategic thinking
  • Organization
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Communication

In other words, the person (people) doing your social media marketing should have some specific skills and/or the experience required to develop them.

The truth: There’s nothing wrong with letting the intern help out on your social media efforts; you just might want someone with a little more experience to guide them.

4. Be sure to promote your business all of the time. It’s all about you.

Have you ever been to a party where you’re stuck in a “conversation” where the other person onlyLike_me.jpg talks about themselves? Unpleasant, right? And what do you want to do more than anything? Go somewhere else and get away from that person, most likely.

People do a lot of research before they decide to buy; in fact, 94 percent of B2B buyers do some form of online research before deciding to buy. Relevant, valuable content that answers buyers’ questions and offers solutions is far more influential than promotional messaging: 60% of B2B decision makers say branded content helps them make better purchase decisions and 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that offer custom content (Brafton).

So, whether it’s social media, your website, your videos, your landing pages, or your email marketing, if your content does nothing but sell, sell, sell, you will be that person at the party and people will want to get away from you – and whatever you sell.

The truth: Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should answers peoples’ questions, address their challenges, and  provide value; only 20% should be overtly promotional.

5. Delete or ignore negative comments. If you don’t respond, they’ll go away.

If someone tells you that the best way to deal with negative comments or complaints (on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog) is to simply delete them – or ignore them altogether – run fast and run far. This is bad advice. The fact is, you can’t ignore complaints. Period.

Ignoring complaints tells customers and followers that you don’t care what they think. Would you let your customer service people ignore people when they call with complaints? I hope not. Think of your content – especially social media – as part of your customer service. There are a few things you can feel comfortable deleting: profanity, hate comments, irrelevant comments, to name a few. But in general respond thoughtfully to legitimate complaints.

The truth: When people see a business respond to criticism and take responsibility, they are more likely to trust that business.

Have you received any bad advice about content? Let us know in the comments!