The group-think content marketing echo-chamber has been around since I entered this business last decade. It’s very pervasive and cascades down our Twitter streams on a daily basis. However, there’s a lot more stuff in it today. It must be really frustrating to a newbie that decides to start a marketing career – constantly being told B.S. that doesn’t matter or isn’t true.
Many marketers get all caught up in the group-think that sits on every other marketing blog. In some ways it’s like a nauseating sickness that’s begging to be cured. When content marketers just echo the same group-think stories and buzz words on their blogs, best case, it shows a lack of critical thinking and creativity to come up with original ideas. Worse case, it negatively impacts the consumers of said content.
The victims of the echo-chamber are many. The costs of listening to it are vast. The fact is time is a finite resource and how we choose to spend that time developing our own marketing skills is critical to our professional success and the success of the brands we represent. Not only could marketers be missing out on other, more important, topics for self-improvement, but they could be implementing and executing bad advice.
In an attempt to protect the many, the below is a list of four group-think echo-chamber topics that deserve to be called out for what they are – not true, just a distraction or plain old bull sh%#. Don’t let yourself be caught up in these topics – just move on because your time is too valuable to be listing to it.
1. Quality Content Always Rises to the Top
This doozy has been around for several years now and is still one of the fluffiest crap-lines told. Most of the folks saying this don’t even understand what “quality” content is. It’s not the best designed, most thorough, best edited, most researched or Shakespearean content.
Fact: people only go to the web for two reasons – to solve a problem or be entertained, quickly. Fact: businesses are in the business of solving people’s problems. That’s what they do. Therefore, the highest quality content a marketer can produce is content that solves a prudent person’s problem the best and fastest and is recognized as such by a large enough revenue-driving audience.
Adding a tinge of entertainment value can have a positive or a negative impact on quality perception, but the basic formula for quality remains the same. Many marketers are egotistical enough to believe they can determine if their content is quality or not. Content consumers are the only ones that determine if content is good or not, not marketers.
If there’s no audience, there’s no feedback loop, and thus no true way to determine if content is good or not. That’s why content promotion and distribution are so critical today for many industries.
Also, many marketers are duped into believing that quality content will naturally attract an audience. That might have been true four or five years ago, depending on the industry, but today, many industries are already oversaturated with content. The build it and they will come mantra is mostly dead – quality content or not.
2. Inbound Will Work for Your Brand
Inbound might work for your business – it depends. We can argue about the definition of inbound marketing, but it truly boils to this: publish, broadcast and pray. It’s basically about creating content, optimizing it for search engines and broadcasting it via social and email – rinse and repeat.
The problem with this approach for many companies is that their vertical may already be saturated with companies doing inbound. There are only 10 organic positions in most search engines and social media is cranking down its organic visibility. If a brand doesn’t have a large enough pre-existing email list to broadcast to, which inbound channel will deliver the traffic?
Inbound marketing that includes earned and/or paid content promotion, when executed well, will likely work for your business. Inbound, in its current accepted form, is a deliberate exercise in owned media exclusively. Earned media is generally a passive exercise for many inbounders and paid media, while embraced by some, is often times considered blasphemous to inbound principles. Without deliberate and strategic earned and/or paid media promotion, inbound can be a losing and expensive strategy for many.
3. Storytelling is Good
This horse has been beaten to death. Remember the two reasons people go to the Internet and why businesses are in business, above? If quality content needs to solve a problem the best and the fastest, then storytelling will just slow it down. However, for those content consumers looking to be entertained, storytelling can provide value. Unfortunately, most folks searching for solutions to their problems aren’t usually looking to be entertained, too.
This mantra probably exists as a marketing ploy to make traditional writers and journalist appear more valuable to content marketing efforts than marketers turned content producers. It’s a self-serving myth for them.
4. WTF is Growth Hacking?
Since when did we decide to rebrand the phrase Internet marketing? Seriously, this is ridiculous. Some would argue that it’s really Internet marketing with an emphasis on company growth. Isn’t that the point of marketing anyway? This just represents a way for content marketers to say the same thing they said last year, but with a different spin. It’s not adding any value, shows a lack of creativity and represents just plain laziness by its purveyors. Don’t fall for this gimmick. It’s not worth your time.
This post originally had 10 different echo-chamber comments I was prepared to rant about, but as you can see above it was getting lengthy. Because there’s more out there you need to be wary when you come across new buzz phrases, slogans and absolutes – even if they seem to be on every other marketing blog on the planet. If you don’t you just might end up wasting a lot of your valuable time and resources.