It’s not about content.
Content is merely the mechanical process to make communication and persuasion happen.
The creative act occurs in the brain.
Content simply transports the thought into the brain of others.
If you have other things to do you can stop reading now, the above 4 lines will be the best thing you have learned today.
For those who like to go a little deeper, read on.
Content marketing has been around for a while, although most businesses have a problem in properly using it to achieve their objectives. It’s a complex technique to get right, which relies on methodologies antithetical to most business minds. This is why most businesses should stop content marketing right now and place all of their spend on advertising.
It still represents the most effective, low cost way to gain market share, but only if it is done correctly and done by people who understand the nuance of communication and persuasion.
Some see it as a way to increase the ranking of their keywords in search engines. Others see it as a way to get people on their website and get their credit cards out.
Both things are worth persuing, but they are not the most effective results you can get from content marketing. For a long time, online marketers published content to get optimise the title tag of the web page and pull in the traffic from Google, add in a few paid links for guest posts, and your off to the races. The old techniques worked well back in the day. But things have changed.
Along comes the Hummingbird algo and things all get semantic, contextual and lots of other words that will not get you laid at a Dolce & Gabanna party, and the old techniques no longer work. The SEO agency changes brand to become a “content marketing agency”, or digital agency and this makes perfect sense as it communicates better to the people who we want to communicate to.
Because Google still relies on links, they are still important. In my opinion they are obfuscating their use of social activity as a signal, probably because it could be easily gamed. But social is important in its own right, regardless of whether Google taps into it and uses it as a signal.
Which brings me to the point of this post, “Why waste money on content marketing?”. I think the answer that most people would have hanging in their head but would never iterate in a verbalised format is that they “hope” content marketing would work.
The data however is against them. Consider a research report published by Buzzsumo.com:
The research, which analyzed the shares and links of 1 million posts, found a low level of content engagement they characterized as “striking:”
* 50% of randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less
* 75% of these posts received 39 shares or less
* 75% of these posts achieved zero referring domain links
Now, these are only the posts that they found, we don’t know how much content gets published that does not even get found by the Buzzsumo search bot.
Maybe you think this is OK for 50% of posts to receive 8 shares or less because the other 50% of the blog posts a business is putting out gets 1,000’s of shares. But if you look at most blogs you see that the share is consistent. It either gets a huge amount of shares consistently, or it gets a little amount consistently.
In other words, it’s not the content that is driving the shares.
If it were, then people like Seth Godin, who sometimes writes stuff that is a tad crusty around the edges (who doesn’t) wouldn’t still gets links and social shares. The evidence clearly shows that an influencer with a rabid fan base can get mediocre content promoted. When someone with little influence can put out great content and it mostly gets ignored.
This is because of the complexity of the relationship between the influencer and the fan, it’s not just about the content. It’s more about how people relate to others and the human condition, than about whether or not you use long form content or infographics.
It’s the culture, the brand, the emotional connection between the reader and everything the piece of content represents. It is not the content in isolation. You couldn’t get anything doing without content of course, it is essential, but it is only part of what makes the piece of content successful.
I have said in the past that the Secret of Ranking in Google is to build great content, but it’s not enough. It’s essential, but only gets you to the starting point.
The secret to content marketing, is to build a great relationship.
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