Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Sep-Oct 2015

Just don’t feed that content monster!

Why merely creating content is not the answer to content marketing.

Illustration by Creative Unit.
Illustration by Creative Unit.

Most companies approach content marketing as a cycle of constant content creation. This is wrong. Content marketing is a create-pause-evaluate cycle. If you are constantly creating content, you are doing yourself and your audience a huge disservice! Here is why: Constant content creation quickly overwhelms you because it is unsustainable and without a plan; it makes you cut corners and create content just for the sake of creating; it adds mediocre content to the inter-webs. Who needs more of the same stuff they have already heard a million times? It doesn’t leave you any time to breathe, see your content from different perspectives, promote it or get full mileage.

Here is what to do instead: Have a strategy; create less and promote more; repurpose everything; evaluate and tweak often; think value instead of frequency.

1) A content marketing strategy When asked to give the number one reason why brands fail at content marketing, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pullizi replied, “because they don’t have a written strategy.” Ask any content strategist and she will tell you what the Cheshire cat already told you: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

When you don’t have a strategy, you often start creating content without knowing why. And when you don’t know why you are doing something, it becomes unsustainable. Three months later when you wonder why you are killing yourself over a piece of content, you won’t know the answer. Begin with the ‘why’.

Start by understanding what goals you want your content to accomplish. Creating content for the sake of creating is not a goal and it will overwhelm you.

When you identify what success means to you, then you can work backwards and figure out what you need to do to get there. For example, success might be 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. From there you can work on identifying the type of content that will attract 1,000 subscribers and encourage people to sign up to your email list.

2) Create less, promote more Consider things from your audience’s perspective. Here is a poor guy on the internet bombarded with stuff every second. How is he supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff? Your audience is just as overwhelmed as you are when deciding what to do online; there is so much choice and they can’t possibly do everything. So guess what they do? They put on their bullshit filter and only consume stuff that interests them. So that makes your job clearer, right? You are supposed to produce epic content. Stuff that people will lap up; stuff that will be shared and consumed like crazy. But since you are so busy creating content constantly you have no time to actually create epic.

Illustration by Creative Unit.
Illustration by Creative Unit.

What are you supposed to do with all the free time you have when you slow down and create less? You will have more time to create better and you will have more time to promote your content because promoting more is the corollary to creating less. If what you have created has tons of value, you would want more people to see it.

Promotion simply becomes a matter of getting great content out to the eyeballs who crave it.

3) Repurpose everything

When you have a strategy and you are producing quality content, it becomes easier to make that content go the extra mile by repurposing it. Repurposing is the art of taking a piece of content and using it in different ways on different media. For example, you could repurpose a blog post as a video, a podcast episode, an image, an infographic, a multimedia presentation and so much more.

Repurposing helps get the most out of content creation because it allows for more opportunities to have your content ranked and is healthier for your SEO efforts; it gives you authority over a topic because you have text/audio/ video/images/etc. about the same stuff and therefore you must be an expert on it, right?

You have a chance to explain things from different perspectives. What you say in a blog post might be formal, but when you repurpose that into a fun video, or an Instagram picture, you make it fun. You appeal to people who prefer one format over another. There are two kinds of people – those who prefer to read and those who prefer to watch. There are two more kinds of people: those who listen to audio, and those who chuckle at cat pictures. You see where I am going with this? People like to consume content in different ways. Why not repurpose your great stuff to be all-inclusive so folks don’t have to choose but can consume your content in the medium that most appeals to them?

4) Evaluate and tweak often

Creating in the dark is an act of extreme faith. What if your analytics bar is flat-lining? Don’t you want to know where you might be going wrong? What if your engagement rates are in the red? Don’t you owe it to yourself to see why? The same goes for when things are going well. You wrote a post and it went viral; hey, let’s examine it, break it down and see how we can replicate it.

Either way – whether your content performs or not – you need to evaluate the performance and then tweak based on the results.

Maybe you have noticed that video posts get a lot of engagement on Facebook, and you can start doing more of those. In this way, instead of constantly worrying about creating content, you can focus on creating just THAT content that does well, meets your goals and connects with your audience.

5) Think value instead of frequency or length

We often assign ourselves arbitrary numbers to hit. We need to publish three posts a week. We need to create an article that should be no less than 1,600 words. Why? This is especially irrelevant if you are creating solely for the digital medium, which is not constrained by space as print might be.

I am not a fan of ‘experts’ who tell you that you need to do ‘xyz’. What you need is to take a look at your business and at what your audience needs. Are you in the business of manufacturing household appliances? Then maybe your audience needs research on how to choose the best washing machine. If you are a fun brand, maybe what your audience needs is a series of videos with bathroom humour.

There are no set rules on how long your content should be. It should be as long as it takes to get your point across and no longer. There are no rules about how frequently you should create. You should create as often as your audience is consuming it. When your numbers go into a decline you know you are communicating too often and need to tone it down. Experiment to find your sweet spot.

Disclaimer: Since this article is for print, I was forced to stick to the rule of writing 1,200 words. Hope you enjoyed all the words.

Salma Jafri is the host of the weekly video show ‘Content Marketing Tips’ on salmajafri.com. info@salmajafri.com