Anyone can dabble in content marketing, but not everyone gets it right. It’s easy to make a mistake on social media that can burn you in a very public manner.
Not every mistake is a going to sink your company, so what’s the harm? The answer to that is that is if you don’t do content marketing right, you will not be able to drive conversations, interactions, or ultimately, conversions. In fact, many social media sites have begun to penalize you if you’re simply posting without true engagement (think Facebook in particular). And really, what’s the point of content marketing if no one cares enough to read your content and then take action?
Remember, the goal of using content is to get your audience to become fans and from there, to support your offerings. If you start by avoiding the five content marketing mistakes listed below, you’ll at least have a fighting chance of gaining traction, loyalty and respect – and getting seen.
1. Open With a Sales Pitch
Imagine you meet me at a bar and this is the first thing I say to you:
“Hi! My name is Holly Chessman. I run and provide women in business with education around growing their careers and building their reputations online and off. What do you say – are you ready to hire me?”
Are you cringing? I am.
You don’t know me or anything about me. For that matter, I don’t know you. I haven’t taken the time to find out if your interests are relevant to my offerings. I’m already assuming your wallet is out, and you’re ready to buy my products.
Maybe you just want to be friends. Maybe you don’t want to be bothered. Maybe you would be interested in what I’m selling. Is speaking opportunities about how women can grow their careers? Webinars that offer step-by-step processes for self-improvement? Consultation to large businesses? All of the above? Who knows?! (Well, I know – it’s “all of the above” – but I’m working on the assumption that you’re not a mind reader…)
There are so many things wrong with the picture I’m painting. Yet that’s how many people act on social media. Their content is completely “me” focused and they don’t take the time to consider what their audience is really interested in.
What’s more, all of their content marketing efforts are focused only on the buying end of the cycle. No love is given to those folks who would just like to know what on Earth you’re selling or maybe gain an understanding of your market. And it completely ignores people who might have become friendly advocates, even if they aren’t customers.
Make sure you include a variety of content in your mix. For example, in addition to including updates that are basically sales pitches, you should include:
- Content that addresses a variety of levels in the customer journey. For example, offer links to high-level articles you’ve written, infographics, and checklists, as well as webinars and consultations, and finally information around your products or services.
- Content from other people’s publications that might be interesting to your audience (but be sure to include links back to the source!). That will help you educate your audience while also building connections with other content producers.
- Content that you can’t automate, for example, replies to comments or suggestions for related content. Don’t forget that social media should truly be SOCIAL! That’s how you win customers through content marketing.
2. Only Use Text
I am a world-class skimmer. I have to be in order to handle the volume of email, articles, and social media posts I sift through on a daily basis. But if a piece of digital content contains an interesting or entertaining image, I immediately find my eyes drawn in that direction.
Research shows that I’m not alone. Human beings process processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Moreover, a post with an image or video gets 94% more views than one with text only.
So why stick to boring old text-only posts? Even if you have little in the way of artistic chops, there are some great social media graphic tools available to help you out.
Above and beyond static graphics, include video in your mix. Videos get more eyeballs and interaction over time. These days it’s easy to add live video or a pre-recorded piece into your social content. Use shorter videos on your social channels and link them to longer pieces on your website.
Remember to add graphics everywhere it makes sense. Here are some easy-to-use tools you can start with:
- Try Unsplash for free photos or Pixabay for free images that don’t require attribution (unless you feel moved to include it). You can also take your own pictures for a more personalized look.
- Try using Piktochart to make your own infographics or use a program like Canva to add words to a picture. Buy graphics on Canva ($1 per element) or import your own and create interesting graphics for free. Canva is my go-to when it comes to making graphics, because it’s super easy to use, even for the graphically impaired (like me).
- Add video directly from your Twitter or Facebook feed. You don’t need anything more than your phone to create a Facebook Live piece or to Tweet someone a personalized video. For ideas on how to reply on Twitter with a quick video, check out @ChrisStrub, who is a master at making human-to-human connections via video.
3. Provide the Same Update Everywhere
Oh, how I sigh when I see @TwitterHandles mentioned in Facebook, a link with no explanation on LinkedIn, or a Facebook post that says virtually nothing and trails off midsentence on Twitter.
Why I ask you? Why are people still doing this?
If you learn nothing else from this article, at least take this piece of advice to heart: Don’t post the same thing on every channel!
It makes you look like you’ve taken little to no effort to provide content that is of interest to your audience. It also makes your updates confusing and doesn’t take into account that people interact in different ways across different social media channels. That’s a sure way to get your audience to jump ship.
First of all, make sure you’re using the right channels for your audience. For example:
- If you are a B2B company that is reaching out to specific titles in specific companies, consider using LinkedIn.
- If you are a locally based company with a fun, personalized message, consider using Facebook.
- If you are a hotel looking to get your visitors more personally involved in the business, consider asking customers to send you pictures taken during their visit and post them on Instagram.
Secondly, consider using paid social media ads to personalize your message even more. With paid ads, you can direct your message to very specific audiences and tailor your content to fit their pain points or interests. In addition, you can track your metrics and continue to revise your outreach to grow your audience and your client base.
These are, of course, just suggestions and there are many ways optimize your content marketing choices to improve your bottom line. However you decide to parse it out, take the time to make sure you are sending the right message to the right people on the right channels.
4. Do it All Yourself
Content marketing is a tough job. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s a never-ending cycle of creation, curation, promotion, metrics, revision, and starting over again, with the avalanche of work ready to bury you if you aren’t constantly alert.
Even worse, it’s hard to make your voice stand out in the crowd. If you put in all that work, and no one listens or responds, it’s not only discouraging but pointless. You’ve wasted your time and money, and it’s likely that the social channel with which your working might even hide your posts in the feed.
It’s time to ask for help.
Involving others will remove some of the burden from you. Even better, it will help you amplify your voice, as other people begin to post your content and reach new audiences. The more people who are publicly supporting your business, the better your results will be.
Involve multiple people in your content creation, curation, and marketing efforts. For example:
- Employees – Rope in marketing, product folks, customer success, sales, and more. They all have interesting things to say and audiences to reach.
- Partners – Promoting and creating content will benefit them as well as you. Give your partners and collaborators an extra shout-out and let them know you’ve given them a bit of free publicity. Chances are good they’ll help you publicize the piece in return.
- Customers – Got loyal customers? Give them the opportunity to let others know how much they love you! It will be fun for them and rewarding for you. Ask them for video or written reviews, feedback, quotes, and more.
5. Use Content Once
You’ve put in so much work to create a piece of content. You posted it on your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds. And now you’re done, right?
First of all, many pieces of content can be used in multiple ways: in writing, through graphics, via video, and/or in a podcast. Once you’ve created all those wonderful pieces of content, share them multiple times on your social channels.
Vary the information you include in your posts so as not to become boring. For example, you can include a statistic from a blog post the first time and a quote from the article the second time. Maybe start off with a checklist and then offer a longer eBook as a follow-up.
The key is to remember that not everyone in your audience will see what you post the first time you post it, and maybe not even the second (or fifteenth). Different people live in different time zones, check social media at different times of the day, and will be captured by different information presented in different formats.
Reduce your creation effort by reusing content in several ways. For instance:
- Make a blog post into an infographic, checklist, or long-form video.
- Make a list of quotes from an event into a set of slides, individual Instagram posts, or video clips.
- Make poll results into individual graphics that can be easily shared via social media as well as a longer, more in-depth report.
Then share your content multiple times on multiple channels.
Ready, Set, Post!
Now that you know how to fix these content marketing mistakes, it’s time to start posting the right way!
Do you have any other content marketing mistakes you’d like to see disappear? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me up at @HollyChessman.