The 10 Mistakes All New Content Marketers Make (And How to Avoid Them)
Most successful marketers who utilize content marketing can tell you that it’s a bit like tampering with fireworks.
By probability alone, something will go wrong.
After years of content creation, I’ve learned a great deal from committing a number of mistakes; every single mistake listed below, in fact.
And that’s not a bad thing. We learn from mistakes. Thankfully, you have the opportunity to learn from these 10 mistakes all new content marketers make so you can avoid them.
1. Their content isn’t meaty enough
It wasn’t that long ago that content marketers were aiming to put out 500–700 word pieces of content. Some rested on just 300–400 words.
The industry has grown under the idea that more content is better content. Many now target content that is in excess of 1500 words. Long-form content does have the potential to be far better, but more content doesn’t necessarily equal better content.
Would you be happier if you were served a lean tenderloin steak or a tough steak marbled with a ton of fat?
Whether it’s 500 or 2000+ words, don’t make the mistake of skimping on the value, or meat. If you do, there’s very little takeaway, and you wind up frustrating visitors with the time you’ve wasted.
Everything you produce should be 10x better than the stuff your audience is currently reading or viewing. Leave your audience satisfied so they have a reason to engage you, share your content, and come back.
2. They’re not producing evergreen content
Writing about trending topics can often help with immediate views and shares. The same could be said for time-sensitive content. The problem with that kind of content is that it’s not evergreen.
It doesn’t have lasting value. It becomes obsolete.
Not every piece of content you produce is going to be evergreen, and that’s OK. But evergreen content needs to be part of your strategy so that it continues to work for you, bringing in new traffic month after month, and being shared continuously despite its age.
Case studies, how-to’s, and educational content provide lasting value in your strategy.
3. They use the same old promotional methods
One of the areas where a lot of new content marketers fall short is in content promotion. You may have optimized the content well for search, but if you’re not promoting your content you’re significantly limiting its reach.
That means settling for tactics like:
- Sharing to a social page or followers
- Posting to Reddit
- Posting to LinkedIn Pulse or as a network update
- Sending an email out your list
You should do those things, but you should also look for new promotional methods:
- Engage influencers using the Connector tool from ContentMarketer.io to help you build relationships and get your content shared by those influencers
- Use a service like Quuu.co to promote your content to others who are looking for content to curate
- Retarget your audience with your content by using a service like Outbrain or Zemanta.
4. They overdo influencer marketing
Engaging influencers is a smart way to improve the reach of your content.
The trouble begins when you rely too heavily on producing expert roundups and make the content focus too heavily on influencers. This produces a flood of “Top Influencers in X to follow” type posts.
It’s flooding audiences in several industries with the same kind of repetitive content. People see the same names popping up again and again. That’s great for the influencers, but not necessarily for you.
You’re not doing anything that’s unique, and ultimately the value of that content is limited.
Incorporate this type of content only as a small part of your content marketing strategy so that your audience gets a more appropriate mix.
5. There’s no strategy behind their content
Only 32% of content marketers have a documented content strategy, and that presents a serious problem. Without a strategy, you have no clearly-defined goals, no clear direction with content type or audience, no benchmarks, no idea what success looks like, no schedule, and no way of knowing your content is effective.
You may not get your strategy perfect the first time, and you might not even know how to make one. Any strategy (even a bad one) is better than no strategy at all.
Here are some components to think about:
- Define your key performance indicators
- Define your audience; decide what type of topics and content formats they prefer
- Decide who creates your content
- Create a content schedule
- Define goals, how to measure success, and track progress along the way
6. They don’t produce content consistently
Just because a content marketer creates a content schedule doesn’t mean they always stick to it.
Not producing content consistently creates a couple of issues.
First, your audience counts on you to produce content. When post frequency drops off, they may stop paying attention. You remove a point of engagement with them, and you no longer stay fresh in their minds.
Second, if your blog (or social channel) remains quiet for an extended period, it might look like you’re just not in business anymore.
Finally, if you put off creating content, it becomes easier to continue that habit until suddenly you’ve gone months without creating something new.
Start small to ensure you stick to a schedule and grow it as time allows.
7. They don’t write for a specific audience
Without understanding your target audience, the content you create is far less likely to connect with any particular group.
That means less engagement, less interest, less sharing and a piece of content that has zero comments or activity.
Take the time to know your audience as part of your strategy. Know what bothers them and what issues are occupying their thoughts. Then write content that targets those issues.
Your audience is more likely to connect with you if they feel like you understand their most pressing concerns.
8. They’re too focused on “Me”
New content marketers often focus on what they can get: leads, referral traffic, new business, and recognition.
They’re not focusing on the visitor.
When you’re too focused on “me,” it’s difficult to provide significant value.
Make sure you go back to #1 in this article. Provide substantial meat, and always question the value of the content you produce. Your reader should always have actionable takeaways from everything you produce.
9. They don’t know what’s effective
It’s impossible to say what will work initially. Understanding your audience is a good start, but even then you’ll have some trial and error. Some content will do really well, and some will tank.
KPI’s, testing, and measurement are important parts of creating your strategy for this very reason.
Don’t make the mistake of creating content just for the sake of creating content. Know your audience and pay close attention to what they want from you and adjust accordingly.
Treat it like a dance, one-on-one with your audience, not a giant broadcast tower over a massive mob.
10. They’re not building relationships
Engagement goes two ways. You can’t expect your audience to pick up and run with your content if they have no connection with you. If you’re not engaging influencers, they have no reason to share or pay attention to your content.
If you’re not responding to comments on your channels, and you’re not commenting on posts from others you follow, they have no reason to do the same.
Building relationships improves engagement and can even bring about the opportunity to guest blog on industry sites among influencers.
Not only do I leverage private Slack groups for communication, I also connect with influencers over private group dinners I put together that are limited in size. It’s a great way to bring a group of people together but still create a more personal connection.
Part of content marketing is making connections with people in your industry, as well as in your audience. That’s how you’ll improve your reach and see far greater results with the content you create.
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I am the co-founder of webprofits. In my 13 years in marketing I’ve helped grow companies like Mint, Salesforce, Linkedin, Yahoo!, and more. Come see how webprofits can transform your content marketing.
This article was first published at http://www.forbes.com/sites/sujanpatel/2016/05/18/the-10-mistakes-all-new-content-marketers-make-and-how-to-avoid-them/