Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing Tips You Should Absolutely Ignore

By January 28, 2014 No Comments

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Not all content marketing advice is good.

In fact, a lot of it might lead you astray. But today, I invite you to exhale. Because you can ignore at least nine of the tips you’ve heard thrown around over the past few years. Below, check out the content marketing aphorisms that might not be exactly true.

The idea here is that if you cast your net wide enough, you’re bound to catch a fish. But unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. Producing crappy content does not result in cheerful customers.

As Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners brilliantly puts it: content created for quantity’s sake is resulting in a content deluge. Quantity is not the key word here, quality is. From capturing your buyer’s interest, to pleasing Google’s algorithm, quality is the magic behind successful content.

What’s the Better Advice?

Create content that’s interesting, relevant, timely, and worth consuming. This includes knowing who your audience is (by developing buyer personas) and what they want or need.

This old myth is one of the most prevalent pieces of online blogging advice, but it’s likely outdated, says Tracey Sandilands of Zerys. The 400-600 word sweet spot was a result of an old metric of keyword density, that suggested keywords placed between 4% and 7% was acceptable and increased your chance of optimization on those keywords each time you placed them. That meant you could put your keyword in your post four to seven times in every 100 words.

With the Hummingbird update, though, Google looks more at the quality of your posts and meaning behind the words. Effective blogging doesn’t start with word counts, it starts with a good idea.

What’s the Better Advice?

While we can’t tell for sure how Google’s algorithm works, we can tell it’s better to write posts that are just long enough to say what you want to say. As HubSpot’s Corey Eridon says, your post should be “as long as it needs to be.”

This is a trap I fell into back when Google Plus was released in 2012. The idea was that Google was favoring G+ over other social sharing sites since they owned it. There were about three months there when I “+1ed” every piece of my client’s content in a mad frenzy. But I’d been duped.

It’s not to say that Google Plus is bad for your social media optimization. There are lots of reasons to share your content on the platform, like: it captures more real estate on search results, it increases the ways in which your content was shared, and it could be seen by a different audience. But it’s not actually more beneficial than, say, sharing a post on Facebook. Google weighs sites it owns equally against sites it doesn’t own (as far as the best research can tell).

What’s the Better Advice?

Share away! Continue sharing, liking, and engaging with content on all applicable social platforms. Each outlet increases the awareness of your brand or product, and could connect you to potential customers.

This is the same as #3, but with videos. The reason I included it is because I had a conversation with a friend who said something like, “Yeah I know G+ isn’t better for SEO, but posting your videos to YouTube is.” Not true.

Google is not favoring its own sites, it just owns a lot of good ones. YouTube is the second largest search engine (to Google), with 1 billion unique views per month. It’s a great place to share content, but don’t think you’re getting ahead simply by using this platform over another.

What’s the Better Advice?

You should still post your videos to YouTube! While it doesn’t give you an edge over other platforms, video is one of the best ways to engage an audience and communicate messaging. It’s has been shown to increase conversions by 86%, get 267% more links than normal posts, and viewers retain 58% of what they watched versus only 10% of what they read.

For a while there (think 1990’s), blogs were meant to be mini-press release libraries that archived and showcased business accolades, awards, and achievements. This is old and outdated. Forget it. Nowadays, the more effective blogs (based on user analytics such as engagement, social shares, and subscriptions) are the ones that produce stories that delight and educate.

What’s the Better Advice?

Your blog will rock if you do these things:

  • Identify your target audience and who you think will be interested in your product or brand.
  • Think about what makes those people tick. What interests, excites, or enrages them? Figure out who they are, so that you can create content that connects with them.
  • Start writing stories, producing videos, and developing graphics that will enchant your audience.
  • The better the quality of stuff you produce, the more your target audience will trust you.

I’m hoping you already know this one, and groaned when you saw it. This advice is based on the fact that the more you push your content on social channels, the more it will make an impact. Additionally, with the advent of social media optimization (SMO), some people thought that if you shared your content on every single social platform your search rank would skyrocket.

But for those of you who didn’t groan, here’s the deal. Not all content should live on every social platform. For example, a DIY photo gallery of how to bake a wedding cake belongs on Pinterest, and really doesn’t have a place on LinkedIn.

What’s the Better Advice?

Understand how each social channel functions, who uses them, and for what purpose. Use this information to focus your social sharing. This results in more authentic social interactions and gives your audience a reason to trust your brand.

Retweets are closely watched by the social media world, and some people will tell you that if your tweets are being reposted, that’s a sure sign that you’ve done your job. Is that true? Kind of. Lots of retweets means you’ve done something right (or very very wrong), but the real goal is to get people in your target markets engaging with you and taking a desired action. If you’re sell IT services software, 1000 retweets from pre-teens who love your Hunger Games comment won’t do much for your business.

What’s the Better Advice?

Use Twitter strategically to connect with key influencers in your industry. Come up with clever tweets and information that engage that specific crowd. Then you’ve done your job.

This one came from a LinkedIn discussion feed on the Content Marketing Academy, and couldn’t be a bigger myth. In the history of blogging, someone must have said at some point that the best blogs post every week or more, and marketers went bananas to up their quotas. While developing consistency and a cadence for new published information, if you find yourself blabbing away in order to keep up your numbers, you may in fact be driving customers away:

I once surveyed readers here on ProBlogger about the reasons they unsubscribed from RSS feeds, and the number one answer was “posting too much.” Respondents expressed that they developed “burnout” and would unsubscribe if a blog became too “noisy.” —Darren Rowse, You MUST Post Every Day on Your Blog [Misconceptions New Bloggers Have #2]

What’s the Better Advice?

Keep it honest, authentic, and informative. Develop goals for how frequently you’d like to publish blog posts in order to stay on top of your blogging efforts, but don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day occasionally. Consistently blogging is key for a content marketing strategy, but authenticity and quality are what develop solid relationships.

Smaller operations and companies often don’t have the budget to onboard a team of in-house content creators. They’re limited to hiring freelancers for content objectives. But the misnomer here is that freelancers can get it all done.

Why is it bad advice? Good freelance writers and designers are fantastic at producing quality content. But in-house content marketers understand the broader goals of the organization and how a content asset contributes to the big picture. They also know the company’s stance on particular topics, and develop an insider’s perspective on industry needs, shifts, or interests. Not only that, but they can respond to sensitive news items in a way that out-of-house staffers, can’t. Can you get projects done with freelancers? Yes. (We do, all the time!) But it’s hard to pull off a comprehensive content strategy with only freelancers.

What’s the Better Advice?

Identify your content marketing goals and objectives and delineate which pieces can be accomplished better with freelance hires, and which components are better for the in-house staff. Looking at your process this way allows you to hire the right number of people and successfully pull off your content objectives for the year.

Jean Spencer

About Jean Spencer

Jean is a Content Marketing Strategist, Cloud & Enterprise at Microsoft, focused on pushing and redefining the limits of what content marketing can be. She also likes to do crossword puzzles and rock climb.

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