How is your content marketing strategy coming along?
There’s a thorn in my side. It’s a content thorn. It’s ruining everything. It’s not that there’s too much content. It’s not that there’s so much content in need of advertising, that the entire industry has shifted from a scarcity model to one of abundance. It’s not that there’s too many companies not playing in the content space. The thorn… the rubbing one, is this: most content is not content… it’s advertising.
Advertising is not content.
Here’s the clue: if you have to pay to have it placed, it’s not content. It’s an ad. There may be content *in* the ad, but it’s still an ad. Two weeks ago, at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, I found myself deep in the weeds about the measurement and metrics surrounding a good content marketing strategy, only to realize that the brands arguing that metrics like “engagement” and “likes” are not enough, were the ones that weren’t really doing any content at all. Their “content” was just a less-than-direct call to action on a channel like Facebook or Twitter. They were ads with more stuff in them. Ads that are cloudy or subtly trying to be content wind up being neither. They wind up not being valuable content, and they wind up being an ineffective ad.
Don’t kid yourself, engagement is (still) everything when it comes to content.
There is this new conversation that marketers are having about content and its efficacy. They want to know how well their content is converting in relation to their advertising when it comes to making the sale. This means that the value of primary content metrics of engagement on platforms like Facebook is seen as something less relevant to the business at hand. Because of this somewhat myopic strategy, they’re trapped trying to compare apples to aircrafts (we’re not even talking about oranges here). Content’s primary job – when done well – is:
- Engagement. In a world where content is anywhere and everywhere, is your story one worth connecting with, spending time with? Is it something enjoyable to read, see, hear and feel? Does it add any real value to my day/life, or is it simply imposing itself on the consumer?
- Sharing. If I cared enough about the content, would I be willing to share it with the people I know, like and trust the most in my life? This is a huge step. It sends a signal to an audience that someone engaged with it, and feels like the content will both add value to the people that they know, and make them look/feel good in the process. That is high praise.
- Conversation. We can argue whether social media conversations really exist, but great content does get the world talking. The water-cooler effect is still in effect. The best of the best content gets consumed, shared and talked about. Conversation about content is the highest form of flattery.