I recently read in CCO Magazine that one of the predicted trends for content marketing in 2012 is “understanding your customers well enough to develop useful and relevant content for them.”
I don’t know if that’s as much a trend as it is marketers finally getting whacked in the face with a big fat clue stick.
Writing stuff that’s useful and relevant should not just be a new fad to hop on the bandwagon of, but the end goal of any content that comes out of your company.
And yet the prediction still sadly stands, as, in reality, that is not often the case.
Most of the content marketing that I’m seeing created and shared by companies in the social space seems to be…well, crap, often written to serve a tunnel vision quest for search rankings at the expense of quality.
Here are three of the worst trends…
The bait and switch.
If you see a blog post that’s called, “How to make your video go viral,” when you click through, you expect to…you know…find out how to make a video go viral. When instead the post says something along the lines of, “Video goes viral for many different reasons [see links to other people’s posts on the subject]. It’s hard to predict why that happens, so maybe you should try podcasting instead. Here are 6 tips to get you started,” that’s just a good old fashioned bait and switch with a fancy digital spin.
The smoke and mirror.
This is the practice of dressing up the barest skeleton of an idea with the world’s sexiest title for the sake of promotion. Yes, I know people who do this are simply aping what they see practiced on the evening news (e.g. “Could your microwave be giving you cancer? Join us at 6:00 to find out!”). But that doesn’t make the disappointment I feel after clicking through or filling out a lead gen form to download a big promise with a tiny payoff any less felt. And you better believe I won’t be fooled into doing it again.
The digital parrot.
Otherwise known as “the blog post/e-book/whitepaper in which I simply quote and talk about someone else’s blog post/e-book/whitepaper with no additional thoughts or perspective of my own.” (This includes “book reviews” that are merely a copy/paste of the book’s table of contents). Content marketing like this makes the word “curation” look synonymous with “lazy.” The social web is full of people who can aggregate, read and type information. What it needs more of are original thinkers. The rise of digital parroting indicates that there aren’t many of them out there.
Writing like this — content that relies more on tricks than it does on talent — is increasingly not going to cut it in the social space.
A recent study by emarketer shows that social media’s growth is beginning to plateau. Or, as Brian Solis so eloquently put it in this post, Social Media 101 is coming to an end. That doesn’t mean that it’s time to abandon social as a platform. But, it does mean that the engagement and content tricks of the past won’t translate as a social strategy for the future.
The people using social media in the future are less likely to be newbies eager to retweet or “like” any old tidbit your company shares, but rather savvy communicators who have chosen the social space as their primary vehicle for informing their purchase decisions, staying abreast of the news and keeping on top of trends.
This audience knows crap when they see it.
As the emarketer study notes, what social audiences want — and are demanding — is professional content and knowledge from their networks.
“Brands have an opportunity to use the transmission-oriented social media landscape to disseminate valuable content to followers—who in turn are hungry for interesting and entertaining content to transmit.”
Is your company ready to feed it to them?