Many brands have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, and for good reason. It seems like the next evolution in effective marketing is content, and brands are increasingly becoming publishers to establish expertise in their space.
However, there are still several mistakes brands are making when entering the content game. Here are the main culprits.
Telling an inauthentic story
When a brand becomes a publisher, it needs to find a unique voice that resonates with its audience. Usually, brand loyalists are the first to respond to your content and indulge in what you have to offer. However, if the voice of your content is different than your brand's tone, your will alienate readers. Don't tell an inauthentic story or pretend to be a thought leader in areas way outside your wheelhouse. Keep it constant with what your brand stands for.
Trying to do it all themselves without partners
How hard are you working your team to produce articles and content? If you're not partnering wisely with freelance writers and content creators, you're doing yourself a disservice. Bringing on outside voices or working with companies who specialize in content marketing to create a seamless site experience are vital steps to becoming an attractive publishing play.
Just as your brand needs to be inclusive, so does your content. If your articles are aimed at smaller and smaller demographics, you are never going to be able to open your brand up to new audiences and life stages. Variety is the spice of life; expand the topics you cover to dip into unfamiliar territories while still being true to your brand voice.
Diane Kegley from RichRelevance, Cindy Pound from R/GA, and Annamarie Bermundo from L'Oreal speak to iMedia about the biggest content marketing missteps brands are still making and why you should avoid them.
Feeling that digital content has to be polished and perfect
Everyone loves perfection, and if you work for a big brand, it's very tempting to feel that your content needs to look like a television commercial before you can share it with the public. While it's important to not produce lazy content, many brands are still paralyzing themselves by thinking that they need to perfect everything they create. The truth is that online audiences are much different than TV or print audiences; they don't mind if content is not polished. Timeliness matters much more for online readers than if every word is perfectly chosen or the images are beautiful. Don't get too hung up on the details in the online world.
Chris Moseley, SVP of product management and brand oversight for The Rockettes, speaks to iMedia and explains why putting too much pressure on the perfection of your material is causing unnecessary paralysis for many brands looking to expand content production.
Trying to act like a 24/7 news room (at least too soon)
It might be the ultimate goal of your content marketing strategy to eventually operate like a well-oiled daily production machine, but one big mistake brands are making right out of the gate is to try to get there immediately. Keep in mind that consumers are not entirely used to brands becoming publishers, and it will take time for you to grow a sustainable audience. Start slow and steady; don't get hung up on the quantity. Publishing even once per week is OK. Remember that your goal is not to be a breaking news organization, it's to gain brand loyalty, love, and recognition through thoughtful content pieces that reflect your brand's values.
Jeremy Brook, global lead of digital strategy and media innovation for Heineken, speaks with iMedia about why it's OK (and important) for brands to start slow with content production and not overextend their abilities for no real reason.
Advertising to readers rather than informing
It's the classic battle of objectives for brands who become content creators: When is it OK to market? It turns out that the line is not so blurry. It's pretty clear to readers when your motives take a wrong turn into advertising-ville. The goal of content marketing is not to collect an audience big enough that you can start slapping them with banner ads and pop-ups. Your goal is gain an audience to inform, entertain, and ultimately turn into loyalists. Imagine your readers walking into a retail store and seeing a wall of products, including yours and your competition's. Who do you think they'll be most likely to choose? If you've trained your audience to respect your brand and its thought leadership authority, you don't have to advertise. The brand markets itself.
Ilana Westerman, CEO and co-founder of Create with Context, Inc., speaks with iMedia about why brands should leave the sales pitch out of content marketing if they want to achieve meaningful success.
Playing it too safe
Lastly, don't be afraid to take risks with your content. If you're producing material that is too standard, plain, and common, you'll never stand out enough from the pack to gain a sustainable audience. Your content doesn't need to be risqué to be different, but it should cause responses and conversations. You need to engage with your readers, and the only way to do that is to say things that elicit a reaction. Don't be afraid of disagreements.
Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction, speaks with iMedia about why content marketing strategies shouldn't be so lukewarm if brands want to cause a stir, and he cites a unique example from his company to illustrate his point.
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Article written and videos edited by senior media producer David Zaleski.
"Newspaper concept with hot topic 'bad news' lying on office desk," "A businessman telling a lie with the fingers crossed," "Portrait of woman with yellow gloves rubbing silver object," "Camera view of a female reporter in a news room," "Illustration depicting a computer dialogue box with an annoying pop up concept," and "Oatmeal" images via Shutterstock.