I don’t often learn something in a blog post that really sticks with me, but Kinvey VP of Marketing Joe Chernov published a guest post on the Content Marketing Institute blog a while back that offered content marketers one very good question: “Do you have permission to publish this content?”
“There is a funny storyline in NBC’s hit series, “30 Rock” in which Alec Baldwin’s character, the revenue-obsessed programming honcho for a Podunk cable network, decides the company should manufacture sofas. He implausibly argues it’s a natural fit for a television network to make furniture because viewers sit on furniture while watching TV.
Baldwin’s absurdist vision for product marketing not only makes for must-watch television, but it also provides a useful lesson for content marketers. While your content shouldn’t necessarily center on your product, it should focus on subjects reasonably connected to your goods or services.”
I’ve seen a few examples of marketing lately that could take a tip or two from Mr. Chernov’s post. I’ve seen some companies post random things completely unrelated to their offerings on their Facebook pages. I’ve also seen a few companies writing really random blog posts that have nothing to do with their core offering. There’s enough negativity on the internet so I’m not going to call anyone out specifically here, but I’m sure you’ve seen some examples.
I think the first scenario, as my colleague Ginny Soskey pointed out, is an effort to circumvent sponsoring posts to earn visibility in Facebook newsfeeds by generating a lot of “likes” and comments on Facebook statuses. I assume the second example is for SEO. I’d be interested to see the bounce rates on those blog visitors. In the case of the Facebook page, I actually do see some value in visibility resulting from “likes” and comments. But if it’s visibility for an untargeted and random conversation, that’s kind of confusing to consumers, and in that case I don’t know if it’s really worth posting. You’re just creating noise.
There may be another reason marketers are doing this though – It could partially be because the inspiration well has run dry, or that people are burnt out on the kind of content they’ve been putting out there. (I think this has a lot to do with it.) Everyone is doing content marketing now. Everyone is a publisher. It’s noisy out there. If you aren’t supposed to talk about yourself (it’s kind of spammy), exactly how many “how to” or “10 tips” articles can you write before you’re writing something that’s been written 10 times before? I think a few marketers are trying to reinvent how we think about content by simply starting any type of conversation that would interest our audiences – whether it relates to the product or not.
This is a mistake because it increases the issue of the content/product disconnect that some brands who are so selfless with their content have already experienced. But doing the same old thing is a mistake too. If you’re bored putting the content out there, imagine how your subscribers feel. So change is actually necessary, but I suppose my take is this: don’t take risks, take calculated risks.
I’ll leave you with a good example from a blog I follow, which isn’t a content marketing blog at all. It’s a fitness blog, which is my favorite kind of content. Sarah Dussault is a fitness blogger from Boston, so clearly her typical content is workout videos, food reviews etc. But she tried something new (and says that right in the video) by offering a workout hairstyle how-to video to her readers. It fits her female audience, but she still stayed on topic by framing this as a how-to video for a hairstyle you can wear while working out. Notice, for example, that it’s not framed as a how-to video for wedding or prom hairstyles, even though her female audience presumably enjoys weddings and proms. Make sense?
Your turn. What comes after the countless “10 tips” and “how to” articles for content marketing? Lemme know in the comments.