I’m the type of friend who will tell you when there’s salad stuck in your teeth or toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe. And it’s in that spirit I’d like to address something equally awkward and embarrassing about content…
Some types of content can make you or your company look really lame.
Likely no one will ever admit that to you, though. Instead, they’ll probably just take a screen grab of it and giggle with their friends behind your back.
That’s not how I roll.
In the spirit of honesty, I’m going to tell you the top 10 worst content offenders I hear people make fun of the most (and that I personally dislike.)
If you regularly produce any of these types of content, it may be time to think about if it’s really showing you in your best light.
1. Content littered with hashtags.
Make sure you use hashtags with a discerning eye and a strategic mind. Pick the most important keywords in your content or the most important search terms and tag those words.
Avoid tweets like this…
Great #blog post about #internet #marketing and how you can improve the #strategic #roi of your #integrated #marketing efforts. #internetmarketing #marketing #integratedmarketing
This type of tweet makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. It’s unpleasant to read and looks like the pound sign vomited all over the screen.
2. Content that is bloated and meandering.
Your content should feel like a cool pool your audience will want to swim in on a sweltering day; not a brick wall they must scale before they can get what they desire.
To make your content attractive and accessible, keep it tidy and tight.
- Break up your paragraphs into bite-sized chunks.
- Do prep work before you shoot video and distill your content down to the most salient points.
- Limit the number of bullet points on your PowerPoint slides.
- Use an outline for your podcasts to keep the conversation on topic.
When in doubt, keep these helpful words from Dr. Evil in mind…
3. Content riding on the coattails of puppies, kittens or babies.
Puppies, kittens and babies are adorable and often entertaining. So, a lot of companies use pictures and videos of them as their content, or to house the messaging for their content.
There is nothing wrong with this… in moderation. Always use images sparingly and in a strategic context. For example…
- Instead of just posting a picture of a puppy, have “take your dog to work day” at your office and take pictures of those dogs to show off your company’s lighthearted side.
- Instead of just tweeting a picture of a kitten, use your cat as the mascot of a brand-specific meme.
- Instead of just sharing a picture of a cute toddler playing with an iPad, have your toddler navigate your client’s new website to showcase just how well your company understands UX.
4. Content that is precious and ostentatious.
We’re not living in the Mad Men era anymore. While you may not be down for sprinkling words like “dude,” or “adorbs” into your content, most companies do need to adapt to a more casual way of communicating (especially when using social media.)
- Avoid fussy terminology such as “whereas,” “hereafter,” and “whatnot.”
- Talk to people like they are people; not like they are representatives from a target audience segment.
- Avoid business jargon like, “move the needle” or “ducks in a row.”
5. Content continually using “pls retweet”, “like if” or “share if.”
Yes, asking outright for a retweet, like or share is the best way to ensure you get one.
However, far too many companies abuse this request by asking (for what is essentially, a favor) ALL. THE. STINKIN. TIME. and it starts to seem like they’re doing a bad Vercua Salt impression.
To avoid that…
- Practice reciprocity and give as much as you ask for.
- Give your most eager and enthusiastic influencers and sharers special treatment and ask them for different favors.
- Say thank you when someone new shares your stuff without being asked.
Quid pro quo, darlins… it’s what makes the Internet go round.
6. Content stuffed full of keywords.
Effective content should have keywords seamlessly integrated into it. Actual humans will be reading your content, so if you write solely for search engines (robots) you run the risk of sounding like a robot. Like this…
We are a full-service Internet marketing agency that specializes in all aspects of Internet marketing. We’ve been specializing in Internet marketing since 2005. If you’re looking for help with Internet marketing, give us a call!
Opt for a more natural tone and use keywords more sparingly, but strategically.
7. Content that lacks contextual awareness or relevance.
To ensure your content is relevant, take advantage of social media to crowdsource the topics your audience would like you to cover. Then, use those same channels to distribute that very content back to them, in return.
But, before you do, get a sense of the cultural conversations at that moment. Has other industry news broken that affects the context of your content? Could you newsjack that news to make your content more relevant?
Remember, the best content isn’t just the right content. It’s the right content, delivered to the right audience at the right time.
8. Content that is visually, a snooze-fest.
The web is becoming an increasingly visual landscape. So, your content needs to include imagery (or BE imagery) in order to stand out.
Incorporate images and visuals as often as possible…
- Present data in an infographic instead of just a text-based report.
- Use an image that includes your blog post title in your post header instead of just words alone.
- Create a SlideShare slideshow of your products instead of a only using a paper brochure.
9. Content that fails to live up to the hype.
- If you’re going to market a blog post as if it’s the post to end all posts, then you’d better knock our socks off.
- If you’re going to promote that you have an e-book to give away, then you’d better make sure people can actually download that ebook.
- If you’re going to have the Top 10 Tips for something, then you better list 10 tips…not 8 or 5.
If you’re in the marketing game, then put your own content under the marketing microscope. If you promise the goods, then you better deliver the goods. Are you doing that?
10. Content that is not inclusive.
Peruse your content archives and see how often your company uses phrases like “we” and “our.” An excessive use of both can indicate you are talking too much about yourself and not enough about your audience.
Replace with words like “you” or “yours” as often as possible. For example…
“We are a design firm catering to small businesses. Our services include identity systems, packaging and print materials.”
“Does your small business need design support? [XYZ firm] can help you with your identity systems, packaging and print materials.”
Just like lettuce on your teeth or toilet paper on your shoe, a content misfire isn’t going to destroy your reputation forever. But, it’s also easy to avoid if you spend just a wee bit of extra effort before you hit “publish.”
Doing so can not only help you look and sound less lame, but also more fierce.
And take it from your friend, Jen… fierce makes the better first impression.