7.5 Ways that Content Marketing Advice May Be Destroying Your Brand

One of the greatest attributes of social media is its "share and learn" opportunities. Information is power, and the power is distributed freely via blogs, videos, podcasts, and social networking sites. We can learn about best practices from people who have developed ideas, tested them, and are able to share their experiences. Social networking sites Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in particular contain a steady stream of links to advice pieces and how-to columns for improving your content marketing efforts.

The advice given can be useful, valuable, and... detrimental. Huh? Marketers have access to volumes of ideas and suggestions for creating marketing content. The challenge is sifting through it to pinpoint which ideas or practices are most applicable to your business. Not all content ideas will be a good fit with your target market, marketing objectives, and brand characteristics. They can be excellent sources of information, but ultimately managers must discern usefulness from noise.

Two examples of techniques that can be useful or detrimental are numbered lists and provocative headlines. Both techniques are advocated by many content marketing experts as ways to gain attention and interest among your audience. But, if these techniques are being used extensively they seem to lose their effectiveness. Just for fun, peruse your Twitter feed or your RSS feed reader to see how many headlines contain either numbered lists ("10 ways to increase click-throughs on video") or headlines designed to pique curiosity, or both. I could not resist as I wrote the headline for this post- the numbered list and provocative headline combined!

On a more serious note, there are reasons why blind acceptance of content marketing advice could not be good for your brand:
  1. Target market characteristics of brands vary; what appeals to the customer base of one brand may be of little interest to another brand's audience.
  2. Widespread use of frequently recommended tactics (e.g., provocative headlines, numbered lists) dilute the effectiveness as content from competing brands begins to look alike.
  3. Focusing too much on best practices may lead to overlooking newer, innovative techniques.
  4. Marketing objectives that are pursued via content marketing vary by company and brand; content marketing message and mediums will be influenced heavily by the desired outcome.
  5. Is bad content better than no content at all? A good idea may be just that- a good idea, but it only works if executed effectively.
  6. You may experience "advice overload." The ideas and best practices shared by experts and practitioners have value, but when you roll them all together do you have clarity or confusion about how to execute content marketing strategy?
  7. The step-by-step recipes offered in many content marketing pieces should be looked to as advice points, not a definitive instruction manual. Like a talented cook experimenting in the kitchen, use the recipes as a base and explore from there to gauge what might work (or not work) for your brand.
     7.5 There is no 7.5... but I have always wanted to use this numbering scheme, following the pattern often used by Jeffrey Gitomer.

Information is power, and we are fortunate that we can empower each other by sharing information and experiences. But, be careful to weigh what is learned against the marketing needs of your business.