The 7 deadly sins of content marketing

Though not exactly Sloth, Pride, and Avarice, these transgressions can undermine your best efforts. (OK, No. 2 has a measure of Pride in it.)

The following missteps might not condemn you to eternal hellfire, but they could land you in professional purgatory. Here are the gaffes to avoid:

Sin No. 1: Using your content to advertise products

This is the biggest sin that many brands are committing. Content marketing is not about selling; it’s barely about marketing. It’s about giving your brand a voice and personality. If you choose to become your own publisher, ignore your fundamental marketing instincts. They won’t help you.

Rather, look at the undertaking as a long-term investment like social media. Brands that “sell, sell, sell” on social media are not popular. But brands that communicate, engage, and have a tone on Facebook and Twitter are very popular. Leave the sales pitch at the office.

Sin No. 2: Trying to do it all by yourself

Think you can just wake up one day and decide to become a publisher? Wrong. This is a deadly sin must avoid. You can’t do it all yourself, and if you try you’ll just end up making mistakes that could have easily been avoided if you looped in the proper partners. How are you going to serve content consistently? There are technology companies that can help you, and bringing in content creators is a key step in establishing a strong voice right out of the gate.

Sin No. 3: Losing sight of what you actually know

Branded content creation (much like any kind of content creation) is about informing your audience. In order to do that, you must have information that your audience doesn’t possess. What better place to start than your own company’s area of expertise? When starting out, don’t throw a wide net for subjects you plan to cover; you’ll only end up losing sight of what you’re actually good at. Focus first on areas that you have an authority in. Establish your brand as a leader in your own wheelhouse. When enough time passes, branch out. Don’t try to be good at everything right off the bat.

Sin No. 4: Recycling content onto platforms that don’t make sense

Don’t be lazy when it comes to content marketing. Every platform is different, and each one requires tailored content. One of the biggest sins in this space is the practice of recycling material, especially to places that don’t make sense.

A lot of content on social media only works in a particular venue, just as a lot of your website content would not work in other places. Customizing content for each platform and network is a key to success.

Sin No. 5: Not understanding how high the bar is

It’s easy to create content—so easy that practically everyone is a content creator these days. The biggest downside for creative people in today’s hyper-digital world is that it has created hyper-clutter.

Consumers have countless options for taking in entertainment and journalism. You should know what you’re up against. What’s the best way to compete in this environment? Understand your competition, and focus on the exceptional quality of what you create, not the sheer quantity.

Sin No. 6: Not establishing a distinct personality

Content marketing isn’t strictly about clicks or impressions. Mainly, your efforts are geared toward establishing a clear brand voice and identity. The tone and makeup of your content will tell your audience who you are. The content marketing undertaking is about growing a personality for your brand. The most successful brands are not faceless entities. Good or bad, each big company has an identity held by the public. Quality content will help put a good face on yours.

Sin No. 7: Allocating a small budget to your content marketing (not going big)

You must go big or go home. Content marketing is like social media media marketing. It’s not a one-off experiment that you can just try. For many brands, a lame attempt in these waters would be devastating. In other words, there’s no such thing as “a little bit of content marketing.”

If you decide to go down this road, be prepared to pump major bucks into it. Content marketing is like having a child. You must feed and take care of it for years to come, so make sure you’re adequately investing time and capital.

A version of this article first appeared on iMediaConnection.

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