The Seven Deadly Sins of Content Marketing

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Content marketing seems so appealingly easy, but often goes badly wrong. Content can be brilliantly composed, but without carefully thinking through your message, you wind up repelling customers and embarrassing your company. In the spirit of learning from my mistakes, I’ve compiled my personal list of the seven deadliest sins in content marketing. Commit any of these, and you’ll never succeed.

#1 – Be boring

Content’s strength is in its ability to entertain. In an increasingly distracted world, content wins attention by being fascinating, humorous or delightful to the audience. Regardless if your content is “snackable” or a full meal, if you’re boring, no one will make it to the end of your content. Even if by some miracle they do, the next step will be to unsubscribe, unfriend or unfollow.

#2 – Be self-involved.

This is really a key part of all marketing – your customer is not interested in you. They are interested in how you can help them. Make the customer the star of the story you are telling. When customers see how you can help them, they will begin to understand your value. Convince them of your expertise, and how that expertise can solve their problems.

#3 – Be obscure.

Don’t neglect your social media, your networking and your social listening. Content is only valuable when it’s attracting attention.

#4 – Be unhelpful.

Great content is beneficial to the reader. Consider Buzzfeed. Their signature blog post, the listicle, has been successfully converted to a form that spins out curated content for readers looking for recipes, fashion advice, financial tips or a book club suggestion. Just generating a slew of dancing gifs will get you pageviews, but useful advice lets you build a content empire.

#5 – Be evil.

Google’s corporate values include the maxim “don’t be evil”. We work in a competitive industry, but that doesn’t mean that compassion and honesty should be ruled out of your content strategy. Thanks to social media, brand communication is a two-way street. Your personality can deeply influence the end results of your content marketing.

#6 – Be isolationist.

Remember, Twitter and Facebook are about conversation, not dictation. If your customers are using social media to let you know what they think, respond and engage with them. You can be transparent in your business practices. Let them know why certain decisions were made. Take their suggestions. Content is about exposing the personality behind the brand; personalities speak.

#7 – Be inauthentic.

One of the reasons why content is becoming a marketing mainstay is the rise of a savvy consumer. Your readers will know when you aren’t being straight with them. This issues a challenge to you, the marketer: you must become comfortable with being wrong, or having someone disagree with you. This is part of the deal. You always want to present your best side, and your best side is your real side.

Content marketing can be hard. It seems sometimes that you are shouting in a tidal wave of tweets and blog posts. Avoiding these mistakes will make your content distinctive, trustworthy and fun – and successful.