12 common misconceptions about content marketing

All content is not good content, and content marketing isn’t a newfangled trend. We’re busting these myths and more.

I don’t know everything about content marketing. No one does.

Sometimes we are tempted to think we do, but there is always a lot more to learn.

The concept is constantly evolving, and we content marketers will strive to perfect it indefinitely. But currently, some people are promoting false ideas about content marketing and preventing others from succeeding.

Here is my list of misconceptions you should not fall for:

1. Content marketing is a new concept.

Hey, I am part of the hype. It makes me feel up to date and cool. Still, marketing with relevant content is neither new nor an invention of the Internet.

Selling content marketing as a new concept is dangerous, and can prevent you from learning from past examples. History allows you to do better in the future and build on past success.

2. Content marketing is digital.

As I stated before, content marketing has a long history. Businesspeople have been marketing with content for centuries without feeling the need to come up with a term for it. Content marketing strategies that businesses used long before the Web existed include:

  • Conferences
  • Lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Articles in industry magazines or papers
  • Industry reports
  • Customer newspapers
  • Special magazines, guides and publications for clients

Content marketing is the art of producing and promoting useful and/or relevant content. There are many forms of content that businesses use to reach and communicate with current and future customers.

Limiting your content strategy to online marketing limits your action radius. Just because online marketing gives you new ways to reach your audience does not mean you should ignore the traditional ways. In most cases, the ideal strategy integrates both.

RELATED: Learn how companies like NASCAR drive engagement with content marketing at Ragan’s Content Summit

3. Creating content is content marketing.

You produce content, so you think you are a content marketer?

You are most likely wrong.

There is much more to content marketing than producing content. A true content marketing strategy includes concepts for content distribution, communication and interaction with the audience. You must have a clear idea about which goals and groups you want to reach.

Depending on your strategy, you’ll need an editorial calendar. You might also need to include other departments in your strategy for producing and distributing content.

4. Curating content makes you an expert.

There is a lot of talk about content curation and sharing other people’s great content.

This can definitely help you, especially if you don’t have an endless reservoir of outstanding content. Yet, sharing other peoples’ content is not enough to make you a thought leader or expert in your field.

If you always know where to find great content, you’re an excellent researcher and know the great content marketers in your field. But in the end, your views, ideas and concepts are part of your personality and expertise, and the most important assets of your content marketing.

If you solely share other people’s content, you risk becoming simply a multiplier for other people’s content strategies.

5. All content is good content.

Being active online and on social media, I sometimes get the impression that there is a competition going on for who can create the most content instead of the best content.

The truth is, with one outstanding piece of content in the right outlets, you will get much more attention, feedback and branding than hundreds of cheap pieces of content no one needs or wants to see.

The risk of creating too much—and possibly irrelevant or even bad—content is it can easily backfire and mark you as a spammer.

6. Producing content for SEO is content marketing.

Google is a friend of good content, as well as a powerful tool to give your content the attention it deserves. But producing content for search engine optimization (SEO) is not content marketing, and optimizing your content for search engines (keywords, etc.) does not necessarily give you content marketing success.

Focusing on SEO content strategies leaves out all the other great possibilities content marketing might hold for you.

You create content for an audience. This audience wants a well-composed, informative and entertaining piece of content. Keyword stuffing and optimization can kill the user experience. Google might still bring people to your content, but you will not successfully market with this content.

It works better the other way around: Producing quality content your audience likes and recommends produces backlinks and social signals that improve your search positions. Google loves quality content.

7. Content marketing is for Google.

Content marketing is for a target audience. Google might help you reach this audience, but you are creating content for an audience-not Google.

If you create content for Google, you are doing SEO, and SEO is not content marketing (see above). Content is for people-your target audience. It is meaningful, interesting, informative and entertaining.

Besides, I could base a complete content marketing strategy on content that would never go online.

8. Content marketing is not for Google.

Wait, didn’t I just tell you content marketing was not for Google?

Of course, this only applies when you and your content are online.

Still, if done right, content in content marketing will speak to Google. If your content attracts an audience, people will backlink to it. They will share it on social platforms. They will recommend it and rate it well. Placing content in high-quality outlets gives you the opportunity to produce high-quality backlinks to your site.

Search engines try to record all of this because they love quality.

One thing Google is trying to accomplish with all the recent updates is to bring users useful content they are searching for. Even if you bring good content to your audience without any thought about keywords, Google will eventually appreciate your efforts and help you get your content to your audience.

So, even while content marketing should not focus on satisfying Google, your SEO can profit from your content marketing efforts. You should make sure your content marketing and SEO go hand in hand.

9. Everything in your editorial calendar is content.

We once had a heated discussion in the office about what content is and isn’t. Social media blurs the definition, but I will give you some hints:

If you tweet links and pictures, the links and pictures are content, but the tweets are not.

If you tweet a statement, your tweet might be considered content, depending on the statement and the audience.

If you run a site for jokes and you tweet jokes, your tweets are content.

The same applies for Facebook. A cat picture might give you many likes, but only in exceptional cases do I consider it content.

10. Your industry is too boring or traditional for content marketing.

Let me quote Lisa Barone of Overit. She made a statement about this point in an interview with exploreB2B:

“Complaining your industry isn’t glamorous tells me two things about you:

  • You don’t fully understand your customers’ needs, pain points and wants.
  • You are boring.

The opportunity to create high-quality content is there, regardless of what industry you serve…. Just because your topic is toilets (or insurance, or telecom, or stained-glass windows), doesn’t mean your topic has to be 100-percent toilet focused.

Find those interesting periphery topics, or the topics your customers are passionate about, and create content around them.”

11. Content marketing is not the right strategy for every situation/business.

As with any business strategy, you need to assess if content marketing is an efficient and effective strategy for you.

Ask the necessary questions before you run blindly into a new strategy.

12. Content marketing is a campaign.

This article was inspired by Joe Pulizzi, who in his recent article on the Content Marketing Institute said, “Content marketing is not a campaign—it’s an approach, a philosophy, and a business.

He said it all. You can have a video, famous article or eBook, but that doesn’t make you a content marketer. And it certainly doesn’t make your company successful in content marketing.

Susanna Gebauer is one of the founders of the social publishing and content marketing platform exploreB2B. You can find Susanna on Twitter. A version of this article originally appeared on JeffBullas.com.


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