Content marketing, where did we go wrong?

The vast majority of businesses today are trying to harness the benefits of content marketing, yet only a small fraction are confident that their efforts are successful and productive. Even worse, about half their content is entirely unused, unread and unwanted. How can this be? If you think about the fact that only a few million blogs existed a decade ago, and now we over a billion today, where did it all go wrong?

A few years ago, you could happily post blog after blog on your website, frantically direct as much traffic as possible through your various social platforms, gather gazillions of inbound links, target a slew of keywords, and voila! You were right up there on Google.

Controlling your messaging and attracting new business used to be child’s play. No more. Anyone who understands Gartner’s Hype Cycle, that separates the genuinely viable from the doomed to fail, will realize that we are now in the ‘trough of disillusionment’ and content marketing, instead of being the silver bullet it was hailed as a few years ago, has hit the deck.

As with all the over-hyped channels we saw before, it peaked, and then more and more people jumped on the bandwagon, it slumped. Moreover, the more marketers cling on, the less effective it becomes. There’s no putting lipstick on the pig here.

So what to do? We can’t just quit; we are all too invested. What we can do, is rewrite the rules, and reinvent content marketing to make it as powerful as it once was. In the immortal words of Mies van der Rohe, ‘less is more’. One of the major problems today is that we are drowning in content, it is too much, yet consumer demand for it is static. There is only so much we can consume before we get content fatigue, and stop processing and sharing.

People are publishing for the sake of it, and they need to stop. Publish less, and post well, when you have something of value to say. Optimise existing content, and generate more ‘evergreen’ content that doesn’t lose its value over time. Throw out the old, hang on to the relevant.

Make sure all your content is accurate, and focus on quality. Work on your headings, make them relevant and eye-catching. Choose keywords that matter. Content should always be fresh, exciting and relevant.

Also, remember, how you distribute content is nearly as crucial as the content itself.

Google’s algorithm now favours the real experts, not just anyone on a soapbox who enjoys the sound of their own voice. All search engines are growing increasingly picky, infused with machine learning and AI, making keyword rankings unpredictable as they understand concepts and can separate the wheat from the chaff. Even Facebook employs cunning tricks to keep people from leaving their pages.

It’s all about one thing, helping the right people find the content they want, when they want it. Make sure your content is interesting and engaging, to draw readers in and hit the high rankings.

The content marketers who will succeed in the future will be the ones who have learned from the past, and who will adapt to today’s demands.

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