When it comes to creating a successful marketing strategy, there are a lot of content marketing misconceptions surrounding best practices and how to get the most out of your efforts. Following outdated or incorrect methods can lead to unsatisfactory results and frustration for you and your entire team. While you may have the best intentions at heart, it’s important to know what tactics will assist you in reaching your business’s goals and which ones you should avoid.
Over the years, we have heard our fair share of misunderstandings surrounding content marketing, some of which seem to pop up consistently. To help you navigate the murky waters, I’m going to shine a light on the most common content marketing misconceptions and provide you with our expert insight on the best course of action for each one.
5 Content Marketing Misconceptions
Misconception No. 1: It’s Easy
In its very basic essence, sharing content is easy. The purpose of content marketing is to distribute and have information readily available for your audience in the hopes of building trust, credibility and gaining a loyal customer. In this sense, any piece of information you make available could be considered part of your content marketing efforts. However, there are many nuances and intricacies involved in the process to make a solid strategy; it’s not enough to randomly share something once and call it a done deal.
Strong content marketing takes planning and consistency. You need to know where your audience is online, when they’re active and what they engage with the most. When you discover this information, you can form a well-thought-out plan of action. Sharing consistently serves multiple purposes. Not only will you start to see patterns form, enabling you to adjust what you’re doing as needed, but it will also help your audience find your information easier if they know when to expect it.
The need to distribute material your audience wants to see regularly brings another inherent challenge: finding and creating useful content that is worth sharing. Constantly producing new, fresh pieces for your audience to consume takes a lot of patience, resilience and creativity.
Misconception No. 2: Results Happen Fast
Everyone wants to have overnight success with their content marketing efforts, but the likelihood of your first set of content going viral is pretty far-fetched. “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a great analogy to think of when it comes to your content marketing strategy. In the end, the tortoise wins the race with his steady pace and patience – the same can be said for your content marketing. Quality interactions built over time with your audience will always be more valuable than having a large rush of people who will never move beyond the discovery phase.
As difficult as it may be not to expect results right away, remember one of the goals of content marketing is to build trust. This takes time to accomplish; at least six to nine months, if not longer, depending on factors such as your posting consistency and frequency. Don’t rush the process and keep going with your plan, over time your patience will be rewarded.
Misconception No. 3: You Have To Share Content On Every Channel
Where and how you decide to share content will be determined by your audience. Posting on platforms where your potential customers are not active takes away from you being able to give your full attention to the platforms where they do spend their time.
If you decide to stop pursuing your content marketing efforts on one channel, especially social media, make sure you deactivate or delete the account. Having an abandoned profile gives anyone who stumbles across it the impression that you’re not engaged with your audience online, or worse, that you’re no longer in business. You can’t expect them to hunt you down on different channels, but you can expect them to look to your competition. Simply stated, keeping online accounts that you don’t put much effort into hurts your brand’s digital reputation.
Misconception No. 4: Content Marketing Is All About Promoting Your Brand
Many companies believe that to promote themselves, their marketing must always present their product or service. While this is true for traditional avenues, it can harm your content marketing efforts.
Customers prefer useful and informative content relevant to your brand, not just sales blasts. Great content marketing builds trust and confidence with your audience. They know that if they come to you for information, they will find exactly what they need. A coffee company, for example, might want to post knowledge about how coffee is processed or enjoyed in other parts of the world. This will interest the customers and give them confidence in the company’s knowledge of coffee. Content marketing works like that– promoting your brand without focusing on sales.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever share information directing your audience to purchase your product or service. In fact, we suggest using an 80/20 rule for the types of content you share. What is the 80/20 rule? It’s where most of your content, roughly 80%, is purely shared information or entertaining for your audience; it is NOT sales-based. The other 20% directly promotes your brand and has a call to complete a sales step.
Misconception No. 5: Content Marketing Strategies Are Set In Stone
Content marketing is constantly evolving with new, emerging technologies and changing societal norms. It’s important to be flexible and adapt your content marketing strategy to these changes. One of the most recent examples of this shift in content marketing is from COVID-19. Worldwide, people and businesses have been affected by the pandemic and it has drastically changed how we interact with each other. From brand messaging to imagery, businesses have had to adapt their content marketing to the new normal while being conscientious of the current social and health environment. As Heather Cooper states in her article:
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, virtually all businesses needed to make drastic changes to every aspect of their marketing strategy. Some businesses were quite successful and demonstrated quick and out-of-the-box thinking, while others attempted to cling to the status quo and hoped that the pandemic would fizzle out sooner rather than later. In hindsight, this obviously is not what happened.
As 2020 faded into 2021, businesses were still grappling with how to adapt their marketing strategy to fit the needs of the lingering pandemic and frequently changing restrictions. Some businesses were quite adept at this. Restaurants provided weekly dinner boxes, newly released movies became available to stream online, outdoor dining flourished and curbside pickup for all manner of services are just some of the ways that businesses found to remain relevant and top of mind.”
On a smaller scale, fluidity in your content marketing strategy is more subtle. It’s about continually learning what resonates with your audience and adjusting your plan to align with those findings. One of the best ways to determine which content your audience prefers is through trial and error; no one gets it right the first time. By paying attention to follower feedback and gauging the responses from your fans, you’ll find out which pieces of content receive positive feedback.
6 Of The Best Content Marketing Practices
Content marketing may seem simple from an outside perspective, but effectively executing a campaign that achieves results is a complex process. Now that you know some of the finer details on what it takes to successfully engage in content marketing, let’s dive into some best practices.
1. Create A Brand Personality
Determining the voice or personality of your brand is crucial in building its identity. The language and tone you use affect how your brand is perceived by your audience and should reflect the atmosphere and vision of your business. For example, if you’re a high-tech B2B organization your language is more likely professional, whereas a customer-facing retail brand may be a little more relaxed in tone and vocabulary. Make sure that whoever is helping with your brand’s content is aware of the personality you have established and they use it when creating pieces to share online.
Giving your brand a personality also humanizes your company and encourages your audience to share your content. By proving you are a collection of individuals rather than a robot behind the screen, you’ll be able to form more meaningful connections with your clients and customers.
2. Distribute Content From Other Industry Leaders
As we went over earlier, no one wants to hear you talk about just your brand constantly, and you should employ the 80/20 rule as part of your content marketing strategy. One way to avoid being overly self-promotional is to pull content that already exists online. This is a budget-friendly way to share relevant statistics or articles from the position of an industry expert and can save time if you’re lacking the bandwidth to create your own original content. Creating “top 10 lists” or “round-ups” of the latest industry news establishes you as a leader in your field, and shows your fans you are on top of what is happening within your industry.
3. Invest In Creating Original Content
While sharing content created by others is a quick, easy and budget-friendly way to make sure you’re providing your audience with relevant information, you should also balance it with a healthy number of original pieces. Take the time to write in-depth blog articles, design infographics and create eye-catching graphics and videos. These elements are a highly valuable addition to your content marketing strategy that shouldn’t be sacrificed to cut corners. The time and money you invest to create custom content will be worth it in the long run.
4. Create Shareable Content For Social Media
You can post on social media all day long, but if you don’t create content that entices people to share it, the chances of making it past your followers’ social newsfeeds without paying for it are slim. Posts, articles, videos, memes or images that apply to a vast audience and evoke an emotional reaction with your customers spread easily via sites like Facebook and Twitter. Focus on content marketing efforts that are positive, helpful, applicable to a large group and relevant to your brand to ensure you reach more social media users.
5. Provide Value To Your Followers
Content that solves a common problem, offers a useful tip or gives advice will reach a wider audience than posts that are self-promotional or meant for a small group of readers. Make your content marketing assets relevant and helpful; offer information they can’t get elsewhere. Consistently writing in-depth blog articles on specific topics related to your brand and industry is a great way to provide your audience with something of value. Don’t forget to cross-promote on your social channels and in your newsletter to make sure you’re sharing your knowledge with the greatest number of people.
6. Respond To Your Audience
There is no point in investing in content marketing for your business if you do not plan to interact with your audience. By spending a few minutes each day on the different platforms, you will not only be able to see what customers are saying about you, but you can also exceed their expectations by replying swiftly to their comments. A good rule of thumb is to try to respond to your audience in one hour or less. Following this guideline shows you’re attentive, plugged in online and readily available to serve your customers’ needs.
Content marketing is a powerful strategy that allows businesses to connect with their audience in a more personal manner. To achieve results requires patience, dedication, consistency and flexibility. By understanding the truth behind the most common content marketing misconceptions and keeping best practices in mind, over time you will see your audience grow and you’ll develop long-term, loyal followers.
Does the thought of managing your content marketing overwhelm you? Let us do the work for you! Three Girls Media has nearly two decades of experience managing organizations’ image and messaging online. From nonprofits to large corporations and everything in between, we have helped build and maintain content strategies that get results. With full-service solutions that keep your blog and social media channels filled with regular custom content, you can sit back and reap the rewards of content marketing. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more!
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