Do you find yourself settling for content that isn’t quite aligned to your content marketing strategy? Do you talk about yourself exclusively on social media? Or perhaps you get a bit lazy when it comes to quality control?
So often businesses - especially those with no dedicated marketing personnel - start out optimistic when they first activate social media profiles. They post regularly, make remarks on other businesses’ content, and generally feel the warm glow of inspiration.
Pan to a few months later - they’re busy with day-to-day operations and haven’t had time to formulate any thoughts on industry developments. Updating those social platforms now seems like a drag and waste of time. To add insult to injury, all that initial enthusiasm amounted to exactly zero leads or new clients. Sound familiar?
We’ve identified some of the most common content marketing bad practices - but we wouldn’t leave you in the lurch like that! We’ve provided some solutions, too.
1. Publishing stuff for the sake of it
If you don’t have anything meaningful or relevant to say, best keep schtum.
OK, so you don’t want a barren newsfeed, but overcompensating for lack of a clear strategy by publishing sub-par content is bad for your brand. Unfortunately there’s no quick route to quality, and since content marketing is not strictly about publishing, it must also deliver on business objectives. Before you publish, make sure there’s a direct correlation between your content marketing strategy and the content you’re pushing out there before you hit ‘post’. If it you don’t know why you’re posting it, it shouldn’t go out.
2. Letting keywords wreck your flow
SEO is essential if you actually want your content to be found, but it has to be invisible to your readers. Shoe-horning words that you want to rank for into your content without adhering to flow or how they read in the piece is a definite no-no.
You might get away with a slightly over-engineered sentence or two to work in a very important word or phrase, but as a general rule, if it feels awkward and unnatural, it won’t have readability - and that will turn readers right off.
Keyword-stuffing is anathema to great content, so make sure that you never publish anything that doesn’t scan for the sake of SEO. After all, what’s the point in getting a hit on your website if your ideal customer bounces straight back off it again?
3. Treating guest posts as backlinks
So, you’re invited to guest post on someone else’s blog. You really like what they do anyway, so solidifying a connection with that company is a pretty big deal. Guest posts give you an opportunity to piggyback on the reputation and reach of others who are doing great things in content marketing. Don’t waste the opportunity.
If you think you can rehash some old blog you wrote a year ago and pass it off for the backlink, think again. You need to use this as an opportunity to make some insightful observations that will pique the interest of a new, wider catchment of readers. Why not showcase a problem you dealt with alongside a solution that worked? Content with key takeaway points make for a very satisfying read - and might even lead to a click on your website.
4. Enlist the help of a second (or third) pair of eyes
No matter how good a writer you are, to err is human. Occasionally we make mistakes and typos in the throes of a passionate content creation spree. Before you publish anything, read it over a few times. Could that sentence be made pithier? What about word choice? There’s no substitute for a good editor. If you can enlist the help of one, try not to take their constructive criticisms too personally. You might feel you’re sacrificing your ego a little for the greater good - and that’s ok. At the very least, have a colleague read over what you’ve written. You don’t have to accept their changes, but it’s always good to have a second opinion and a fresh pair of eyes.
5. Using social media like a megaphone
You don’t have to write new social media content every time - sharing is fine too, so long as you’re fostering conversation about topics meaningful to you and your business. The point of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media platform isn’t always to broadcast what you are doing to the world. The idea is to engage people.
To make social media an effective part of your content marketing strategy, you can’t just post some content, tweet it, and expect it to go viral. It’s a two way street and it requires a dedicated time slot in your schedule. You have to lay the groundwork, making sure that you’re communicating with your followers and peers regularly, engaging in conversation, retweeting, sharing, liking and commenting on interesting links and posts. Only turning up to announce your latest blog post seems self-serving, and will do you few favours. Showing an interest in others, however, will encourage them to take an interest in you and your content, too.
Feeling inspired? Want to learn more about developing a kick-ass content marketing strategy? Click here to download your free eBook, The B2B Content Creation Masterclass.