By now most internet marketers are familiar with the phrase "Content is King" but this really is nothing new. It always has been king and it always will be.
Content was king before Bill Gates' now infamous essay (opens in new tab) back in 1996 and it will continue to be as long as humans are capable of digesting information.
But if content is the king then I think we're the court jester in a lot of ways. The king is laughing at us and let's face it: a lot of times we'd be lucky if our target audience makes it far enough into our 'content marketing' strategy to laugh with him, let alone find anything of value in the content we're trying to shove in their faces producing.
That's because we're often just a bit too focused on things like ROI and conversions and generating leads, which distracts us from our goal of creating and sharing something that others will find genuinely valuable. Here are a handful of mistakes that we're all likely guilty of making at one time or another.
01. Focusing too much on timeliness
Don't create content to meet a quota or because you feel the need to publish a post according to an editorial calendar. You should be creating content because you have something interesting to share.
Although it is important to consistently put out quality content, don't publish just because you feel that you have to maintain a schedule. Focus on producing high quality and sharable content first.
02. Failing to define 'good content'
Failure to define what constitutes good content (opens in new tab) will only lead to frustration and wasted time. Remember who you're creating for and why you're creating for them. "Good enough" content is the same as poor content.
Always keep your audience in mind and constantly ask yourself if you would share it if it weren't produced by your company. Give your content an honest rating on a 1-10 scale with the following phrase in mind: "anything less than a 10 might as well be a 0."
While it's perfectly okay to promote your product where applicable, you should shy away from only creating content with which you intend to drive sales. If every one of your blog posts is a feature for a different one of your products, you aren't likely to see much success. Unless you're a large company with an already solid and loyal customer base, you aren't likely to benefit from blatant boasting.
As illustrated earlier, don't try to convert everyone that stumbles on something you've created. Producing only promotional content is a waste of time, money and energy and you're likely shooting yourself in the foot. No one wants to be friends with someone who only talks about themselves.
04. Unfriendly UX
Perhaps one of the most overlooked and undervalued aspects of content marketing is one that should really be one of the most obvious. User experience is often not considered by marketers because it is something that is traditionally attributed to the roles of developers and designers, but it's also something we should be focusing on as content marketers.
Everything we produce should be done with the user in mind (opens in new tab), especially when we're creating something we want people to engage with and have an emotional response to - as we should always be doing. No one wants to share (or even read) something that isn't visually stimulating.
05. The "If You Build it, They Will Come" Misconception
This just isn't true in the digital age where we're seeing an increasing number of customers who research heavily (opens in new tab) before making substantial purchases.
Simply creating content or having a great product won't cut it any more. Sharing your content is just as important as creating something people will find valuable and is paramount to building trust for your brand. Don't underestimate the impact that a single email to the right person can have.
06. Ineffective Twitter sharing
While it is incredibly important not to overshare, keep in mind that not sharing enough can be detrimental. Do not spam, but realize the importance of timing and relevancy.
If you've got a post relevant to a trending news story, even if it's from some time ago, share it again. If you mentioned someone in a post, share it with them - they may like it enough to share it with their audience themselves.
If you mentioned multiple people in a post, share it with them individually and at different times to maximize exposure. Know when you're oversharing (opens in new tab)but also keep in mind that tweets expire quickly (opens in new tab).
07. Not knowing the audience
A great piece of content can be wasted by simply not knowing where the most important and crucial people to share with are spending their time. Really get to know your customers inside and out. You should know what else they're likely to be interested in, where they hang out and what they spend their time doing when they're not using your product or products similar to yours.
This will give you a great place to start laying a solid foundation on which you can build valuable trust and brand recognition by sharing your content. Before you even begin to create, you need to know who you're creating for.
08. Being too focused on SEO
It's easy to justify the amount of resources (opens in new tab) that go into researching and creating content if you're always considering potential SEO benefits. However, this can lead to a very short-sighted campaign and is likely the reason that a lot of content fails.
If you find yourself focusing too much on trying to gain as many links as possible, or optimizing too heavily for specific keywords, you may not only be hurting your reputation with popular search engines, but distracting yourself from creating something people will find valuable as well.
Don't blind yourself. Focus instead on creating valuable content and sharing it effectively and you'll see much better results. Remember that having truly great content makes SEO easy.
09. Trying to convert on first interaction
It's easy to think that simply creating and sharing awesome content will directly result in conversions. This is a misconception that eventually leads to discouragement and may even result in a company abandoning a content marketing strategy altogether when they don't see an immediate ROI. The reality is that even a lot of really great content fails to drive conversions and that isn't a bad thing.
The goal should not be to win quick conversions with a single piece of content. Instead, focus on becoming an authority by continuously producing quality content so that your readers recognize you and value your insight after a number of interactions. This is likely to lead to higher customer loyalty and result in better relationships.
Don't be fearful of investing too much time or resources into a strategy that may not work. If you're creating value material and sharing effectively then you're already on the path to seeing the results that you want.
Know when it's appropriate to devote more time to content creation and when to spend more time sharing. Ex: Is there a currently trending event you can write about? Create! Have a valuable piece of content already published that didn't quite get the traction you want? Find new people to share it with!
Words: Tony Randall