Loading

You probably won’t find this post. Every single day on linkedin there are more than 2 million posts, articles and videos published, and so it’s getting harder and harder for content to stand out and be seen. So how did we get here and what can we do?

The phrase “content marketing” was born in 1996 at a discussion for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors.

A very brief history of content marketing

Content marketing is pretty new in the grand scheme of things. It’s easy to forget how basic most websites were ten years ago and how little brands really produced content. It wasn’t really until 2012 that brands began to realise that if they posted on a particular niche, they would be rewarded with higher places on search engines. Just for context, ten years ago I could probably get you to the top of google after 3 months of weekly blogs.Today, that climb is a fair bit harder.

Only about 1% of LinkedIn’s 260 million monthly users share posts every week...but that's still 3 million posts a week.

Too much noise

The most obvious problem for any content marketer is just the sheer amount of noise. It’s estimated that there are 1.145 trillion megabytes of data created every day, and we can only imagine how many videos, articles, images etc are part of that. With so many brands, influencers and individuals all vying for attention…we have seen a switch happen. Where ten years ago creating content was a great way to get ahead of your competition, today its almost a necessary evil, something that has to happen so you don’t get left behind. It now takes much longer for people to see your content, recognise its you, and respond to it. In some cases, years not months.

68% think it is unacceptable for companies to collect large quantities of data about individuals for the purposes of offering them deals.

Stupid algorithms

Algorithms are both our friend and our enemy when it comes to content. With all of the waffle out there about artificial intelligence and machine learning, its easy to overestimate how intelligent machines really are. Here’s a fun experiment…the next time you are on social media, like a few posts by a well-known brand that normally you wouldn’t be interested in. Pick a brand where you know you’ve never shopped, not even as a gift for someone else. Now that you’ve liked a few posts, that brand will appear on your feed for months and months. I’d be really interested to know how long for! The same thing can be seen on youtube. You watch one music video and that same video will pop back up in your feed as a suggestion, and if you watch it a few times, you’ll begin to see other videos by the same band. That’s because machines are stupid. A human can easily determine that if you’re watching one specific video by a band and not any others, you probably just like that particular song. But a machine will only try and feed you more of what you’ve already consumed. Imagine if Tesco recommended birthday cakes every week because you once bought one!

While the stupid nature of algorithms can be a good thing, serving our content to those who react with it, it’s a double-edged sword. Not only could our content be served up to people who weren’t really interested (something we don’t have any control over) but moreover it puts more emphasis on us as marketers to get reactions. A slippery slope that can lead to sensationalism. Brands using newspaper tactics (ie big scary titles) to get you to click. Brands focusing on popular content rather than content that is actually useful to their customers. Brands playing the short-term game rather than thinking about the longer sales cycle.

"People do not come to work, sit at their desk and suddenly all they can think about is accounting."

The personal invasion on Linkedin

When we think about the algorithm in terms of sending people ‘more of what they like’ its not difficult to see why so many people have started to post more personal content on linkedin. I’ve always been firmly in the “professionals are people too” camp. People do not come to work, sit at their desk and suddenly all they can think about is accounting. Posting about your family on linkedin is not some cardinal sin in my world. Having said that, I must confess that in the past year, my feed seems to have become predominantly personal content and I see less and less interesting articles. Perhaps the most annoying to me, are the people who will attach a very large picture of themselves which has no connection to their post at all. Small rant aside, while this content is popular, it will naturally push aside our branded content. This makes it even more challenging for B2B brands trying to share articles and posts. It also makes harder to justify the investment of time and money into your company page when an individual sharing dog pictures can outreach you.

Content marketing creates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 64% less.

So are marketeers lying?

When I was writing this article I was looking for some research around content being ignored or the struggles around today’s content marketing. Interestingly, what I found was a lot of research all saying how great content marketing was and what a great investment it is.

  • According to the Content marketing institute, 46% of businesses reported they want to increase their content creation spending in 2022.
  • Hubspot says that the top three roles marketing leaders will prioritize hiring are content creators, content marketing managers and content strategists.
  • The Content marketing institute says that 92% of marketers reported that their company views content as a business asset.

You might notice that all the companies coming out with this research have a vested interest in the success of content marketing. For me, improving your content marketing is not simply a case of producing more content, or better content it’s about doing the simple things well and realigning your expectations.

Only 66% of B2B marketers frequently prioritise their audience’s needs over their sales message when creating content.

The simple things well

Let’s start with the obvious. Content needs to be regular. It needs to have some form of value to the person reading it, and it needs to be consistent in look and feel. You should be getting the most out of every single piece of content, not sharing once and hoping for the best. Think about all the places you can share that content from groups to associations.

There is no SEO god. You don’t magically type in your keyword into a blog and suddenly you’re top of google. If you want your content to be seen, then you need to share it through newsletter and you need to share to individual customers wherever that’s possible. In the B2B world your sales team should be using content as a soft way to keep in touch with people.

Map out your customer journey. Think about FAQs. Think about pain points. If your customers have questions, then build content you can send them to answer, this will also save you time in the long-run the next time someone asks.

Realistic expectations

It will take years for your content to be seen and recognised and that will become significantly harder if you are chopping and changing your approach or branding every few years. Build up your content in one area over a long period of time so that when that customer does find you, it’s like they have a full library to explore. If you’re not tracking the performance of your content after the first month it’s released, then you don’t have the full picture.

Content is your 24/7 sales person. Self-service is a trend I don’t see going away and while it is always good strategy to have some assets sitting behind a gate, after a year or two you should be sharing more and more publicly. It needs to be curated in the right way so that, again, when someone does find your content, you can take them on a longer journey.

You need to tap into the voices within your organisation and create a mix of content. Some does need to be that useful content that can last 2 or 3 years, and some needs to tap into the stories of today and be seen as ‘genuine’ posts from your people. While its difficult to squeeze this type of content into busy work schedules, it can be a fun and engaging task for your team.

Conclusion

Where once good quality content would always win out in the long-run, today marketers need to be more agile in their approach. They need to create a wider spectrum of content than ever before, and ensure they can attribute the impact of the work beyond likes and shares.

Awesome Works
Awesome Works

Related Posts