If you’re like most marketers today, chances are content creation is becoming an increasingly important part of your marketing activities. As social media has exploded, the need for compelling, intriguing, relevant and sharable content has exploded too. And as quickly as that content demand has risen, the half-life of content freshness seems to have diminished.
So how do you ensure all the content you’re slavishly creating is actually doing the job? How do you marry all the great stuff you’re creating within your organization with the UGC that you’re expecting your legion of devoted fans to provide you?
Honestly, I don’t know. But, what I do know is that if your content falls into any of the categories below, it is going to fail. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will be a guaranteed failure.
You’re still writing for everyone: Wrong. The days of “one size fits all” generic content are over. Niche and even micro-niche content is the level of detail you need to be thinking about. Sure Facebook may give you the impression that hundreds of thousands of Fans are following your every post, but appearing in their news feeds and being content that they actively engage with are two entirely different things. You need to get more targeted.
Your content has no editorial calendar: Sure everyone needs the flexibility to react to changes in the mood of the market or their customers, but content with no set calendar is a real rookie error. At a minimum, you should have planned content for at least a 90-day period. A calendar that you know ahead of time, how frequently you’ll be posting, where you’ll be driving interested readers to, which products you’re supporting. Spontaneity is great, just not when you’re talking content.
You’re not curating your content: Making your content work harder means actively curating it. Ensuring content is tagged, edited, parsed and filtered effectively. Your audience has precious little time to filter. Increasingly their expectation is that you’ll do that for them. Users, especially those in the niche audiences mentioned earlier, can’t and won’t stand for content that is marginally relevant. You need to be curating it if you want to ensure maximum relevance and engagement.
You have too many goals for your content: Content can do a lot of things for your business, but it can’t do everything. The same piece of content can’t deepen a relationship, market a new product, increase loyalty and turn a prospect into a sale. If you set too many goals for your content, it will fail at all of them. Keep content single-minded. Now. And always.
Your content is static: If you’re not creating content that is malleable and can be augmented by your audience, then you’re missing a trick. Content that doesn’t change or evolve gets old real fast. You need to be thinking how you can let your users add layers to your content to keep it fresh.
Your content isn’t device-centric: Shockingly, the number of companies that merely port the same content from laptop to tablet to mobile phone, with no discernible difference, is astounding. Content needs to be relevant for the situation in which it’s consumed. Users with 45 minutes over lunch at their desk need content served differently than those on a 20 minute commute on a bus with their iPhone. Why do so few companies get that?
Your content is one-dimensional: This is definitely advice I need to follow myself, but content is more compelling when it crosses formats. Text is fine for certain situations. Video or audio is better for others. 140 characters can be too little or just enough. Regardless, if your content favors one content type at the exclusion of all others, then you’re going to miss the boat. Not all content is consumed equally; give your users the option of the content format that’s best suited for them.
None of this is rocket science. Considering the volumes of blogs (many better written than this one) devoted to this stuff, I remain incredulous at how many basic steps are still missed.
If you’re still creating content that falls directly into the categories above, your content strategy efforts will fail. No ifs or buts. Make the change. Start now.