10 Content Marketing Mistakes That Turn Your Audience Off
The purpose of Social Media Marketing and content marketing is to connect with audiences using a digital medium. This "new" type of marketing allows businesses and brands to reach large audiences with minimal effort and expenditure while facilitating a very personalised experience for their online audience. This personalised experience entices users to "buy into" your business or brand and, if executed appropriately, encourages your online audience to read your blog, subscribe to your e-mails and follow you on Social Media - all of which would count as profitable behaviour for your brand.
What many find, however, if that once you've built your network, once you've got a long list of e-mail subscribers, Social Media followers and a tonne of traffic heading to your website, the bubble tends to burst, and you find yourself the outcast on the proverbial playground.
While this is the story of many brands when it comes to sharing their content on Social Media and other digital channels, this doesn't have to be your brand's story. The so-called bubble doesn't always break. There are many reasons why your brand might suddenly experience a decline in fans, followers and engagement, and, like the hidden truth behind any breakup, the problem really is you.
Content Marketing Mistakes You May Not Know You Are Making
Poor Writing: When it comes to creating content, it is very easy to succumb to the sentiment that "it's just our blog", or "I write e-mails, so of course I can write my business' website copy". If you are a talented writer, this line of thought isn't necessarily counter productive in your brand's content marketing strategy.
The reality is, however, many professionals are highly skilled in their own industry, and less skilled with the wielding of words. This leads to the creation of poorly written content. Poorly written content is the number one killer of audience engagement. No matter what you do, if the writing isn't there, your audience will not engage with your brand's content. Even if you write the catchiest of headlines, or write on the most interesting and relevant topics. If your audience cannot trust you to write great content, you are going to lose that audience.
The Fix: To ensure that your content is well written, you need to invest in content creation. If you have the writing skilled necessary to produce great content, investing in content creation is as simple as an investment of time. If you don't have the necessary writing skills, or you can't spare the time, investing in content means paying an expert to handle your brand's content creation for you.
Irrelevant Content: No matter how great the content is that you create, if it isn't relevant to your brand's online audience, they are not going to interact with that content or connect with your brand. In order to ensure that your brand's content will be successful, it is important to know your audience inside and out in order to find a point of resonance.
An example of what I'm talking about with regards to the sharing of irrelevant content is the tendency that digital marketing agencies have to attempt to leverage notable "holidays" like national bagel day, or the celebration of love week, in order to engage with their clients' audiences. While an Instagram post about national love week might get a few extra Instagram likes, this "holiday" has little relevance to the online audience of a fertility doctor.
The Fix: Whether you are a digital marketing agency, or you are managing your business' digital marketing efforts on your own, it is absolutely imperative for you know your audience. An intimate knowledge of your audience will guide you in creating and sharing content that does have that point of resonance and adds value to your audience's lives which is exactly what will keep them engaged and coming back to your brand again and again.
Over Sharing: You are an expert in your niche market and as an expert, you have a lot to say, but your audience only has so much time and it is frustrating when one brand or business is attempting to take up a large portion of that time by sending a tonne of e-mail or by posting a barrage of updates on Twitter, Facebook or any other Social Media platform.
Like the desperation of a clingy boyfriend, inundating your audience with too much content is a huge turnoff. When it comes to deciding how much you should share on any digital or Social Media channel, it is important to be considerate of your audience's time. Being respectful of their time means delivering your content in a timely manner rather than being too spammy.
Sharing too much content also hurts your brand's credibility as it water's down the importance of what you are saying. For example, I subscribe to Myer's newsletters and every time I receive an e-mail from them, I open it because I know there is going to be something in that e-mail that is pertinent to my life. I also ended up on the e-mailing list of a brand called Huckberry, and while I love most of what they do with every other avenue of their digital marketing efforts, I'd say 99% of their e-mails that end up in my inbox get deleted without me even reading the e-mail's subject. The reason for this? They just send me way too many e-mails.
The Fix: This content marketing mistake is one of the easiest to fix. All your business or brand needs to do is speak to your audience only when you have something important to say. When determining the importance of what you have to say, step outside of yourself and look at it from your audience's perspective. Remove yourself from the equation entirely. Will every aspect of what you want to say resonate with your audience? If there is even a shred of doubt that your audience won't see the relevance of what you have to share, nix it.
Self-Centred Content: When it comes to content marketing, it is all about your audience, it should almost never be about you. If you want to talk ad nauseam about your brand or business, save it for your website. Engaging your audience with content means talking about things that matter to them and, believe it or not, you are not the centre of their universe.
This goes back to what I said earlier about ensuring that you content resonates with your audience. When you talk about yourself all the live long day, that's going to be a huge turnoff for your audience. This is about more than just sharing content from sources other than yourself, this is also about relating every single piece of content that you share back to yourself. Instead of repurposing content as a means of talking more about yourself, use content, both created and curated, as an educational tool for your audience to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your niche market.
The Fix: Rather than relating all of the content that you share back to your brand, relate the content that you share to your audience and their needs. For example, if you are a full-service marketing agency who wants to share a Forbes article on Twitter, instead of talking about how your company agrees with the points raised in the Forbes article, talk about how that Forbes article relates to your audience and how it will add value to their lives.
Using the Wrong Voice: With content marketing, it is necessary to find a consistent voice for your brand to use across all digital channels. Choosing the right voice for your brand, however, doesn't mean finding one that you think is cool, hip or trendy. Rather, finding the right voice for your business or brand is about speaking to your ideal audience with familiarity and terms that they understand.
What we often see is businesses or brands who fill their e-mails and Social Media channels with jargon relevant to their niche market as if they were talking to a colleague or someone else who is already an expert in that field. This sort of content is inaccessible to you audience who might not understand all of the jargon that you stuff into your content.
The flip side of this, is when businesses talk down to their audience by discussing ideas in terms which are too simplified or dumbed down. If you are explaining concepts or ideas that your audience is already familiar with, your audience isn't going to find value in the information that you are trying to share with them.
The Fix: In order to create content that matches the voice and language your audience is already using, it is important to have a clear idea of who your ideal audience is. With your ideal audience in mind, create content using a vernacular they will easily grasp. Don't load your content up with jargon specific to your industry. While you might think it makes you look like an expert in your field, you run the risk of your message getting lost.
Over Selling Yourself: Another common content marketing mistake is when brands or businesses over-sell themselves and their content just becomes an ongoing and repetitive sales pitch.
To be clear, your website is designed to be the place where you sell yourself to your audience. Think of your website, like a fishing hook. The content that you share is the lure which attracts your audience and once they bite, that is when you reel them in with the selling points on your website. Instead of thinking of your e-mail, blog or Social Media content as a selling point, look at it as a way to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry.
The Fix: Never treat your content as a sales pitch. Instead, treat your content as a sharing of information that will be relevant to your ideal audience. This relevance is the point of resonance and it is what prompts people to interact and engage with your brand or business in a profitable way.
Similar to my previous point, rather than thinking about content in the frame of how it will benefit you, think of content in the frame of how it will benefit your audience. Always aim to fulfil your audience's needs with the content that you create. The biproduct of this methodology will be brand loyalty and profit.
Click Bait and Cheesy Attention Grabbers: A lot of people have that one friend who needs to be the centre of attention all the time, and it is super annoying. In much the same way that your friend's attempts to be the centre of attention are annoying, so too are cheesy and cheap attempts to get your brand or business attention with the content that you create or share.
Excessive use of all caps, strange fonts or characters, or exclamation marks are particularly pointless when it comes to content marketing and click bait as a strategy to get attention is particularly hideous. When we talk about click bait we're talking about headlines like "These content marketing secrets will blow your mind", or "number 4 on this list of 6 ways to do content marketing successfully is crucial". These headlines don't do anything except turn your audience off. I don't know about you, but I've never had my mind blown by anything I've read on the internet, and no tip is "crucial" to my life.
The Fix: When it comes to sharing content with your audience, craft a headline which accurately summarises the value that this article will have in the lives of your online audience. For example, in the headline I mention above, rather than saying that tip number 4 in this article is "crucial", introduce the same article with the headline "This Business2Community article will help your business or brand build a successful content marketing campaign". This headline introduces the content to your audience by explaining the point of resonance and thereby the relevance of the content.
Bad Videos: Much like written content can be bad, so too can video content be bad. While video content is important in content marketing and Social Media Marketing, if you do not have anything to say in your videos, they aren't going to resonate well with your audience.
Too often, we see videos that are too long, irrelevant, or even just poorly produced. They might contain cheesy graphics, or the visuals might be difficult to see if, for example, the video has poor lighting. Just like blogs that you write, or Social Media posts that you write, your videos should have a clear point, share information as concisely as possible and have decent production value.
The Fix: Just like you need to invest in well-written content, you need to invest in cleverly produced and thought-provoking video content. This doesn't mean that your brand's video content needs to be of Hollywood production quality - in fact, it's better if it isn't so that your brand's voice shines through. Rather, what this means is that if you don't have the resources to create a pertinent and attractive video, it is best to skip video content creation for the time being.
Inappropriate or Poorly Executed Humour: A sure fire way to engage audiences is to incorporate the use of humour in your content marketing and Social Media Marketing efforts. The thing with using humour in content marketing, however, is that if it is inappropriate, or shoe-horned into your brand's content, it isn't going to resonate with your audience.
The Fix: Rather than shoving humour down your audience's throat, save your best comedy for times when it is appropriate and only use humour or comedy if you know that what you are saying will amuse 100% of your brand's online audience.
Lack of Passion: The final thing that is killing content marketing is writing or creating content with a lack of passion. Even if your brand's content is very well written, or covers pertinent and interesting topics, if you share content without passion or joy, that is going to show through to your audience.
If you are writing a blog just because you need to get content up on your website, or your producing a podcast because it might be a way to connect with your audience, the impersonality of the content that you are producing will serve as a big turnoff for your audience.
The Fix: It would be easy for me to say that the fix for this content killer would be to produce content only of subjects that you are passionate about, but that isn't necessarily realistic. While it is nice to think that everyone is out there living their passion and their dream, many people aren't. If you're not in love with your work, that's okay. However, if you aren't in love with the work that you do, and you can't bring yourself to be passionate about the content that you create and share, hire someone who is passionate to create that content for you.