I work in the corporate communications space – primarily on the digital and social media side – and I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike most of the online content that brands produce.
Most of what they (we?) produce is bland, boring, repetitive, shallow stuff. Even 90% of the ‘thought leadership’ content you see online isn’t particularly original or in-depth. (I’m looking at you, folks on LinkedIn.)
It would take me time explain why I think this way, but then content strategist Kristina Halvorson summed it up beautifully in a series of four tweets:
Content marketing says: "Brainstorm what content your audience wants, then distribute it wherever they are."
Content strategy says: "Your audience couldn't care less about your content until they need it. Better talk to them and figure out when, what, and where that is."
Let me tell you something: every time I tweet something critical about content marketing, it's because I'm sick of being inundated by a bunch of terrible advice from big "content influencers" about how to focus on the WHAT and WHERE vs. WHY.
As a result, we are now seeing widespread "content chaos" for the majority of orgs who went all-in on content marketing: a ton of repetitive, unoriginal, useless content pushed out on a million different channels that people have simply lost track of.
And so: we need to move leadership away from a focus on content *promotion and engagement* and towards an understanding of content as part of a holistic, integrated user journey that's driven by need, not the mythical desire to have a "relationship" with your brand.
Isn’t that brilliant?
As a content strategist myself, what I often tell communications and marketing people is that no one will be interested in your content unless it’s:
particularly useful (and even then, usually just to customers)
mildly interesting (often just to industry professionals), or
super cool (to everyone else).
Everything else you produce will generally be ignored.
Importantly, if you continue to pump out content that people keep ignoring, people will start to ignore you altogether. That is, producing lots of bad and boring content is worse than producing less content that’s much more interesting.
So, please folks, stop limiting your communications approach to just a few popular content tactics and start thinking about content strategy instead. Your audience will appreciate it and your brand will be more well regarded because of it.