Internet use continues to rise, and increased access via mobile devices means more people than ever are devouring content online. Intuitively, this seems like great news for businesses with an established online presence. However, it is more important than ever that all content be of the highest quality to remain competitive in an ever-expanding field.
Like Austin Paley, corporate marketing communications manager at digital marketing agency Blue Fountain Media, said, marketing requires brands to continually think outside the box and learn from past performance so they know what's going to be effective with their audience. However, you can't create great content formulaically. "It simply can't be automated if you want to be successful at it."
Here are the four biggest mistakes to avoid in your content marketing.
1. Being lazy with social media
Developments in the world of social media have exploded over the past several years. With the launch of Facebook Watch, Instagram TV and LinkedIn Profile Videos, video content is hotter than ever across social media platforms.
"Social media creates a space where you can find and engage with your target audience, and it makes them more accessible for your brand," explained Talya Miller, community manager at social media and digital marketing agency Sculpt.
It is no longer sufficient to regularly post branded quote graphics or fill your page with links to high-quality content hosted on your website. If you are not engaging with your audience via video on at least one of the major social media platforms, you are missing a huge content marketing opportunity.
One thing to keep in mind when creating video content for these venues is that many people like to watch video with the sound off. Be sure your videos are visually compelling enough to be consumed without sound, or consider investing in closed captioning to ensure your message is read even if it's not heard.
2. Pitching instead of providing
One of the dangers of content marketing is your customers perceiving you as only interested in selling them something.
Consumers follow your brand to learn your stories. They rely on you for news and other information related to your product or service, assuming a human is behind a social media account. Having a human as opposed to a robot behind a brand can also create a unique voice for your brand, which can be established through content marketing.
"Sometimes, brands forget their consumers are human," Miller said. "Humans turn into numbers and sales goals, but when you think of your audience in terms of being human, you find ways to connect."
Miller recommends giving something before asking for something as a general rule for brands on social media. You're marketing a product and service, but at the same time, your customers expect a compelling narrative from a human perspective.
"Provide your audience with helpful information, interact with them, tell them your story [through] your brand and employees," Miller added. "Once you have given something positive to your audience, it is appropriate to ask for something in return. Speak to your audience in a manner that is kind but still is brand-voice appropriate."
3. Riding the yes train
Just because you are offered a guest blogging post or the opportunity to speak on a podcast doesn't mean you should accept. It can be tempting to say yes to each opportunity in hopes of reaching a larger and more diverse audience, but this can be a mistake.
Guest blogging for outside publications used to be one of the most popular content marketing strategies. Paley noted that this tactic can hurt your business now.
"In the past, good content marketing dictated that you should write high-quality content as often as possible for sites that requested it, but in the modern age, you have to be a little bit more careful," he said. "Even valuable, well-written content can become problematic if it is posted on a website that houses low-quality content." This is also true of being a guest on a podcast or YouTube channel.
Take the time to check out the quality of the people or brands you will be collaborating with, which will help ensure you get the most out of your content.
4. Recycling content without repurposing
Recycling is great for the planet but can be disastrous for your content marketing strategy. High-quality content takes time to create, regardless of the format.
You may want to repurpose your content on a number of sites to maximize the impact and get a higher ROI for your effort. If you are simply posting the content with minimal alterations on a variety of sites, the results could be problematic for your SEO traffic, and it could give the impression that you have limited insights to offer.
If you are going to recycle, think of it as upcycling instead. If you write an epic piece that people loved in its original long form, use that content to create a number of shorter pieces in different formats. You can use quotes from the piece to make branded graphics for Pinterest and Instagram to bring people back to the original piece.
If you are feeling even more ambitious, you can use one of the new video-editing apps to create short videos of especially compelling blocks of text to share on Facebook or Instagram.
The point is, if you are going to repurpose your content, make sure the delivery method offers something new.
Additional reporting by Danielle Corcione and Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for an earlier version of this article.