We’ve been hearing this for a while; content marketing is huge in digital marketing right now. The phrase ‘content is king’ has been thrown around in the world of digital media over the last year or so, and most brands who place focus on their digital marketing presence have adopted content marketing strategies in one form or another.
But as with every popular marketing channel or activity, there are right ways, wrong ways, innovative ways and copycat ways of doing everything- and with this, various myths and half-truths are born. Digital marketers embarking upon their initial content marketing strategies are finding it hard to figure out what works, what doesn’t, what best practice is, and what examples to follow. So below are some of the most common ‘content marketing myths’ and their realities.
Myth #1: To succeed at content marketing you need big budgets and big teams.
Companies with the most remarkable and talked about content marketing strategies are often those with the large budgets and teams behind them, but that’s no reason to be discouraged. Many small sized companies are finding content marketing a really successful tool, at a lower cost than more traditional forms of outbound marketing. In fact, 60% of B2C small business marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, knowing that it can be a very effective strategy for brand awareness and lead generation.
Aim for what is realistically achievable given your own budget and team size. If you’re a team of one person producing content for your brand, don’t compare yourself to the larger companies.
Myth #2: Let’s produce content that will ‘go viral’!
If your content does ‘go viral,’ that’s fantastic! Normal content has to work hard to get noticed amongst the clutter and noise of the internet, whereas viral content fuelled by social sharing explodes onto the public consciousness and takes over for a few weeks or months. What kind of content goes viral? Very often it’s purely down to luck more than anything else.
Sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have become pretty savvy at creating viral content and that seems to have become their modus operandi. However, not all publishers necessarily want their content to go viral. In fact, some publishers such as The Verge, discourage their writers from even looking at traffic numbers, so they don’t get too caught up in the numbers and forget the goal they initially set out to achieve, which is to deliver great, original editorial content that speaks to the reader.
Content marketing should serve many purposes, including to raise brand awareness, generate leads and interest from stakeholders, as well as establish a brand’s reputation, voice, and personality; and viral content doesn’t always achieve those goals.
Myth #3: Content marketing simply means creating MORE content MORE often
Content marketing is really all just about adding more content to my website, right? Wrong!
Increased blogging frequency can have a positive effect on website traffic levels, as this Hubspot research demonstrates, but take these figures with a pinch of salt as they won’t apply to every case.
Simply adding more content to your site does not constitute a sound content strategy and will likely not lead to improved business outcomes. Google’s Panda Update aimed to filter out poor quality and thin content from search results, so those websites that had simply created abundant amounts of irrelevant, low quality, and keyword stuffed content, suffered the consequences greatly.
Focus on quality, not quantity. Do you have the resources to produce large quantities of quality content? Relevancy, timeliness, context, and utility should be top of mind when creating content. Focus on what’s realistically achievable for your team, and then keep your mind on the quality, rather than the quantity.
Myth #4: My company website has a blog, therefore we do content marketing effectively
Content is so much more than posts on a blog! Think about content holistically and think about how your target audience consume different types of content.
Blog content is great, but not everyone likes reading blogs! While some people are more responsive to visual content like infographics, others may prefer to read about the finer details via a whitepaper or listen via a webinar. So don’t limit your content to one type. Written, visual, video, and audio content are great ways to stretch out your content and allow it to reach a much wider audience.
Myth #5: Building ONLY quality content is not realistic. You have to pad it out with some low quality stuff to keep output numbers high
If you’re short on time or staff, it’s easy to churn out low quality content just to meet output targets, and this happens all too often.
Many marketers believe coming up with different and original blog topics is impossible as, after a while you’ve covered all topics, right? Wrong! Did you know that 16 percent of the daily queries on Google have never been seen before? If you’re running out of ideas for blog topics why not connect with your frontline customer facing staff members who deal with customer enquiries on a daily basis, to find out what your customers are really after? Speak to your sales or accounts team to tap into the themes and topics of importance to your target audience and you’ll never run out of meaningful ideas for your content creation efforts.
Myth #6: Why put so much effort into creating one piece of content when it has only one life?
When you’ve spent hours writing that perfect blog article, it can feel like a waste of time for only one piece of content that will be old news in a couple of days or weeks. That’s where you’re missing the opportunity. Through one great piece of content, you can create multiple content types that can be scattered across the internet in various forms.
Think of it this way: you could conduct some really great research into your chosen topic, from that you could turn some of your findings into a really strong blog article, a whitepaper, as well as an infographic (that’s three pieces of content already). You could save some of your other findings and offer them to industry press or other bloggers to write about- they could then ask you to write a guest article, or publish some of your findings, leading to some great PR and possibly a backlink for your brand.
You could even repurpose your original article to fit into another blog that covers similar topics. You could take some of the comments generated from the first 3 pieces of content you wrote and write a follow- up article, answering people’s questions or concerns about the data published. A few months later you could conduct the same research to see if anything has changed since then and publish your new findings. In the meantime, other bloggers or publishers may have picked up on your content and written pieces of their own about it, again leading to some great PR and SEO for your brand.
One single idea can lead to multiple pieces of content with a long shelf life, so don’t be discouraged if you’re spending hours perfecting your work, be proud of it and let the world know about it!
Myth #7: The real purpose behind content marketing is just to improve SEO
For many brands this may be the case. They may see content marketing as an avenue to improving their keyword rankings by keyword stuffing their content and producing mass quantities of thin and low quality content with the sole aim of aiding their SEO strategy. But as discussed in point three, content marketing is so much more than that.
By providing useful, quality content to your audience, your brand becomes a trusted source of reliable information. This not only improves the reputation of your brand, but builds loyal brand followers. These followers may be valuable sales leads, or may in turn recommend or refer your brand to others who in turn will become strong leads or long term customers.
Yes, content marketing can have a very positive effect on your SEO. It can drive more traffic to your website, improve your keyword rankings and help you build backlinks. But if the quality is not there, these results will only be short-term. With quality content, all these elements can be achieved, as well as repeat visits, improved social media engagement, lead generation, and loyalty.