Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 14, 2011 9:19 PM

Your Marketing Drivel That Is Supposed To Be Content

What makes content dance?

Whether it's a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or a corporate Blog, I'm often asked for my thoughts and perspective on not just the design and usability, but the quality of the content. And - much like this season's judges on American Idol - I find myself towing the line to find only the good in what is being done. As you'll note, I have thin skin. I don't deal well with criticism and this makes it very difficult to criticize others. So, I'd make a terrible judge on American Idol and I  tend to be light on content criticism. Back when I was a music journalist, I'd actually not review albums that I didn't like. You know the old saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I have no problem being critical internally of the work we produce at Twist Image (only the best for our clients), but I tend to shy away from criticism when I'm asked on a more ad hoc basis about the content that an organization is publishing in the Social Media channels.

Confession time.

In most instances, when a brand is not getting the traction, attention, or getting their content shared as much as expected, the diagnosis is obvious to everyone but the brand itself. The content is not resonating because it actually looks less like authentic content and much more like Marketing blather that is thinly veiled as content.

Objectivity.

If your content can't be objective and the ultimate goal of publishing it is to get people to buy from you, that will be the way in which it will be consumed. The brands that are seeing their content get shared and recommended are publishing content that looks and acts a lot more like the content you would find in other online publications (or something you might read in a magazine or a newspaper).

Shy away from advertorial content.

It's hard to do this. Your boss is reading the content and wants to ensure that the brand integrity stays in tact. The entire reason you were given the latitude to publish anything was because there was a promise that content is critical to success in Social Media, but that it should always be in the best interest of the brand. It's hard to create great content. It's hard to create objective content. It's also hard to create content that must be skewed or manipulated in a way that ultimately promotes your brand in the marketplace. The masters of it (those that toil in the branded content arena) understand how to do this in a more balanced fashion.

The brands that work.

There are many brands who understand this. Some of the ways in which their content "wins" is by focusing less on the products or services that they sell and much more on the industry they serve and why it matters to their constituents. Producing objective content isn't easy. The other reason for this is because Marketers have a hard time thinking like a Publisher (or a Journalist). They often don't have the passion or care that a Journalist or Publisher brings to content creation, and the content winds up being created much in the same spirit as their other Marketing materials. Be cautious. Great content is honest, real, objective and adds much more value to the person reading it than the person who wrote/published it.

Think about your content. Is it objective or simply thinly veiled Marketing blather?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Wolf Pascoe
    Mitch Joel

    I don't blog in this field, but I read you because I find your perspective of interest. A few examples of what you feel is great content would be helpful here.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kevin Behringer
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch:

    Wonderful as usual. This is the fight I'm living in the middle of right now. It's so hard sometimes to explain that we DON'T want our logo, sales pitch, etc all over everything we do. Sometimes, we have to have confidence that if we create interesting stuff, people will find us.

    Thanks for the great post.
    Kevin

    Reply
  • Posted by mark ivey
    Mitch Joel

    You've hit the nail the head. Corp. bloggers will never "think like a journalist." And most have no idea or inclination how to engage with reader. I found the best approach (after wrestling w/ this for years) is establishing a publishing like program that involves editorial talent, schedules/calendars--basically editorial support...but still leaves ample room for individual bloggers to control the final post, in their voice. We do this with speeches already, and it can be flexibly designed-some bloggers will need minimal support. I outlined some of this recently ("Is your social media content killing your business") and my experience w/ co's like HP, Cisco, Sprint http://bit.ly/hiqwfB
    Agree 100 percent that "Great content is honest, real, objective and adds much more value to the person reading it than the person who wrote/published it." But right now it's still dominated by a marketing mindset in many co's, and it won't change as long as we keep doing it the way we're doing it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rob Booth
    Rob Booth

    A fantastic study of 200 brands on Facebook by Buddy Media in US last week (and the first of its kind that I have seen) explains in detail :

    When you should post,
    Which words or content generally get the highest response,
    When do people engage most with Facebook content.

    I summarized it here: http://bit.ly/gdv6yv

    Reply
  • Posted by Don Stirling
    Mitch Joel

    Brands that see their products through the eyes of users typically create good content. Drivel-creating brands insist on looking at their users through the lens of their products.
    P.O.V. makes all the difference.

    Reply
  • Posted by Marcus Schaller
    Mitch Joel

    Sad but true.

    Maybe one possible solution is to reframe content marketing into terms that brand-obsessed marketing managers can understand; specifically PR.

    It's easy to argue that in order to get an article published in a major trade pub, it had better be a damn good piece filled with useful information, not just marketing fluff.

    Just because the gatekeeper (publisher/editor) is no longer in the picture, doesn't change the fact that filters existed for a reason, and in order to be considered worthy of publication, the content had to serve the readers.

    Worth a try.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dan Bischoff
    Mitch Joel

    I think this works in not only good content, but in marketing messages as well that's trying to sell a product or service. Focus on what matters to prospects instead of how awesome your product is will get a better conversion rate.

    Reply
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