Content Marketing – Stop the Madness!

If there’s one thing the online marketing world is good at, it’s buzzwords, man. Terms like “social media marketing”, “social business”, “personal branding” and “social thought leader”, have been around for some time. The latest and greatest of the buzzwords is “content marketing”.

Now, I am not discounting or disputing the validity and value of social media, marketing, content, or even social business, for that matter. All of these things have value, and they are important to anyone who is interested in marketing themselves or their business in the online world. In fact, it’s crucial to understand how online marketing works, if you’re going to be successful in business. I’d be a complete hypocrite if I said that content marketing wasn’t important – I teach people about it, I develop strategies for people, and I do it myself.

But content marketing has gone off the deep end. Marketers desperate are going to extremes to get the all-important click through. They are loading up their posts with keywords, link baiting their titles and headings, hoping to cash in on a fleeting increase in traffic to beef up their monthly reports to the boss.

And I ain’t buyin’ it.

Today (Valentine’s Day) I saw a blog post title that read: “What Love Can Teach You About Personal Branding.” Really? It’s come to that? I hesitated, not wanting to give the author the satisfaction of a click, but I had to look. Perhaps this was just a title gone bad. Maybe the post itself had some substance. I should have known better. The post was a heading-riddled list of half-hearted, poorly written analogies as to why love and personal branding are oh so similar. It’s clear that the author was scrambling to get a post out there that would get caught up in today’s conversation about Valentine’s Day, thinking they could somehow provide “value” to people who are seeking that quick fix, nugget-sized piece of advice that’s going to turn them into a social god.

I’m sure the post will get lots of hits. That’s just the nature of the beast. But as readers, are we so desperate for information that we’re willing to tolerate this much fluff? And as writers, are we so desperate to please the boss (client) that we’ll just throw out shlock to get the clicks?

It’s a sad state of affairs.

So few people seem to have the time, energy, perseverance and gumption to put out consistently good content. We want a quick fix. We want 100 clicks (or 1000). We want fast and easy attention.

But the most that a link-baity, keyword-vomiting post is going to get you, is a bit of ever-so-fleeting attention. The truth is, I don’t even remember who wrote that “Love and Personal Branding” post or what blog it was on. I certainly don’t consider the author any sort of authority on either love OR personal branding as a result. Link bait does not a thought leader make.

The truth is, writing great content on a consistent basis is hard. Really hard. But for those who do it, and do it well, the rewards are undeniable.

So what kind of content marketer are you going to be?



Photo Credit: Micah Taylor via Compfight cc

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  • February 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Amen sister!

  • February 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Great post, Suze, and so true.

    I was dismayed to be told by a number of ‘SEO Experts’ that our company blog should dispense with witty, engaging blog headings and just try to cram everything choc full of keywords and phrases.
    Whilst I appreciate that keywords and SEO is important, I think, particularly with a company blog, it is just too easy to fall in to the keywords trap at the expense of interesting content. There needs to be a better balance between the two.
    Why should a reader of a company blog, be any different to someone reading an individual blog? Both blogs need to engage with an audience, provide great content and start some kind of dialogue. Thanks for the post.

  • February 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Sue, I couldn’t agree with you more. Too many marketers are using the term “content marketing” as an excuse to replace quality material with keyword-rich drivel. Although both keywords and quality content are necessary to build search rankings, it seems like some missed he old debate about whether or not to let keywords or good writing take the lead. Ugh!

    However, where I’m struggling a bit is in the related area of newsjacking. Some companies like Oreo during the recent Superbowl blackout and Grammys, have done a clever job. Others seem to be jumping on the news-meme-overkill bandwagon. Any thoughts on newsjacking as a tactic?

  • February 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Sometimes I just sit and laugh at some of the content marketing that comes into my inbox. (For some reason, even when I unsubscribe, I still have an inbox full of crap.) I think the kind of thing you mention was effective a few years ago but now it’s just ridiculous because people are taking it over the top. I’m trying really hard just to be myself!

  • February 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Okay, so you know I had to Google that blog post and – if I read the right one (grow) – sheesh mahoney! 🙂

    It’s so true, Sue – it’s almost like we feel we have to invent new terms or bastardize existing ones to feel worthy of our place in the space.

    Let’s get it straight – it’s just marketing, pure and simple. Everything else is a subset of tools to complement the tactical approach.

    Now, with that said, Happy Valentine’s Day miss! 🙂

  • February 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Totally agree. I wrote a post recently similar to this about ‘newsjacking’ which is basically what you’re talking about – Various articles like “What marketers can learn from Lance Armstrong” and “What Hurricane Sandy has taught us about SEO” which are just trying to ride on the back of the increase in search volume for these news stories. They add zero value, I wish people would stop writing them, but they probably see enough traffic that they won’t.

  • February 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I love this. Content marketing gets thrown around so much which makes almost everyone publish stupid posts like the one you mentioned.

    I’d rather publish once a month with stellar content than drill my readership with junk.

  • February 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you for this!
    I’ve gotten quite cynical (bordering on contempt) as I travel in the content marketing circles. Admittedly, I’m gone overboard and spent too much time studying content marketing and gotten away from my core skills: Data Management and Excel.

    I’m looking to ease back and find a way to do “good enough” content marketing and get back to my real business.

  • February 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I think content marketing actually has some use, so I’m going to run contrary to the post. Yes, it’s a buzz word, but it does force CMOs to think differently. It’s the inbound thing, or using content to ATTRACT customers rather than PROMOTE at them. I think that shift is the big takeaway from the buzzword.

    Otherwise it’s the 21st century nice word for advertising writing.



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