Yesterday, Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal was knocked out of Wimbledon by Steve Darcis, anadal_2599149b Belgian man ranked 135th in the world. Nadal, the fifth-best player in the world, steadfastly refused to blame a recurring knee injury for the loss. He instead hailed Darcis’ abilities as the reason behind it.

However if you dig a little deeper, it’s easy to say what may have gone wrong for Nadal – and what content marketers can learn from his shock defeat…

Lesson 1: Know your platform and practise, practise, practise

It’s well-known that Nadal plays better on clay courts, admitting yesterday that “grass is a difficult surface for the way I need to play to play well”. Unfortunately, Wimbledon’s grass courts just don’t offer what Nadal needs, making regular practise a much more critical part of his pre-game preparations. Plus, he needs to learn the exact differences between the two court types and work out how to adapt his approach to suit.

It’s the same with content and social media. If you know your content is of such a tone that it’s likely to reap higher engagement on Facebook, by all means push it out via that channel. However you shouldn’t neglect the other networks. Identify how you could tweak your approach in order to gain similar successes on Twitter, Google+ etc. A/B test this until you get the balance right; for example, push content on Linkedin that adopts a slightly more formal tone. Still little engagement? Take a slightly less formal approach and see how that goes. It’s all about knowing the platform and undertaking regular practise.

Lesson 2: Don’t underestimate your opponent

It’s hard to say whether or Nadal underestimated the power and potential of Darcis; however he wouldn’t necessarily be alone in doing so. Most of us probably expected the world’s fifth-best player to beat someone ranked 135th – but we shouldn’t have.

You should never underestimate any of your opponents, whether they’re new to the circuit and just starting out, or are old hands. In content marketing, anything can happen to change the landscape at any time, thanks to Google’s relentless algorithmic updates. As such, content marketers need to stay on top of the competition at all times.

Don’t become complacent – the underdog can always win and if you’re not one step ahead, you’ll find yourself on the Nadal side of your next big fight.

Lesson 3: Content MOTs are a must

Sure, Nadal didn’t want to blame his defeat on his dodgy knee – but it could well have played a part. Much like he needs to take tremendous care of his instrument (his body), marketers need to ensure they undertake regular MOTs on their content. If your regular approach has stopped pulling people into your site, or creating conversions and engagement, it’s time to switch things up a bit. Don’t assume that the content type, tone, length etc. will achieve the same things they did six months ago.

Thanks to and

What can content marketers learn from Rafael Nadal? originally appeared on Red Rocket Media on June 25, 2013.