B2B marketers are making content marketing a higher priority and they feel they are doing a better job adjusting their strategy and actually creating the content. Which is great news, and yet, creating quality content that is worth sharing seems to be the biggest challenge. A recent report by Track Maven, a marketing analytics software company, says that blog output by brands has increased 800 percent in the past 5 years, but organic social shares of blogs is down 89 percent over the same time period. In other words, content marketing is growing, but is quality content lacking?
Businesses are producing more blogs, but nothing stands out and fewer people are validating the content through social sharing. So, what gives?
Certainly, there are a number of factors at play. Clearly, there is more blog content online than ever before, but let’s face it, manufacturing blogs aren't getting shared quite like pictures of puppies and babies. Secondly, just because there’s more blog content floating around the ether, doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, at its worst, a high percentage is spam, or just crap; and at its best, it's advertorial content. And here’s the rub — the consumers know it. After all, we’ve been trained by traditional media to sniff out junk. Journalists taught us this, but for some reason, marketers either forget this or disregard this fact when creating “information.” As a result, who wants to read, let alone share, a piece of content that is really just an advertisement?
So, how do you get more people to care about the content you’re publishing? First of all, take off your marketing hat and try thinking like a journalist. Set your key messages and sales objectives aside and frame your content more objectively so it possesses these characteristics:
- Balanced information
- Runs to conflict
- It's about people
What makes journalism work is that the reporter's responsibility is to tell both sides of the story. One-sided stories are either biased or Op/Ed pieces. You know what’s good about your product or service, and you also know what’s not so good. And yet, like most people, you probably don’t want to talk about your product's weaknesses, which is normal. You're in business to sell stuff and make money. And yet, it’s the vulnerability that not only is open and up front, it builds trust and it's more interesting to read. My grandpa used to tell me that he'll always trust the suit salesman who tells him when a suit doesn't look good on him. Much like the waiter who tells you what to avoid on the menu. You build trust through your candor and honesty.
Run to conflict
As a journalist, you realize that when telling both sides of a story, quite often conflict is created. We see this most colorfully during the political season, however, follow enough news media, and you’ll notice that news content is filled with conflict at every turn of the page. Conflict, and subsequent resolution, engages a reader or viewer, it creates intrigue and draws people in to the message. Most marketing material or marketing blogs are pretty much devoid of conflict. Can you create conflict that doesn’t threaten your business and still piques the interest of your followers?
Make it About People
This is Storytelling 101. The best stories are about people, not about things. Find interesting characters and personalities to communicate your messages. And when in doubt, make it about the reader. After all, most people are going online to find answers that benefit them, not the company that’s selling the product.
Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute echoes Track Maven's findings in this piece, stating that content marketing is trending up year over year. Here’s an excerpt from his piece:
“Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers in North America say that compared to one year ago, their organization’s overall approach to content marketing has been much more or somewhat more successful”.
This is good for those of us in content marketing (I think), but unless the content that is going into the marketplace is content that’s worth reading and sharing, it's merely cluttering the space and potentially discrediting the information that is truly useful and informative.