When you’re trying to get more eyes on your content, the advice for putting it out in the world is endless. Remember, marketing is an art just as much as it is a science, and understanding the potential pitfalls when trying to generate quality content could mean the difference between a PR nightmare and a viral hit. We’re something of experts in the marketing game, and we’re happy to share some common mistakes and potential solutions with you.
1. Quantity over quality
Spending less time on more content is our number one for good reason. As Google improves their algorithms and starts to favor quality content over content that’s gaming the system, a SEO-stuffed piece might not perform as well as it used to.
Build quality content that creates value for potential customers. That includes creating pieces that are longer and better researched. There’s evidence to suggest that content longer than 1,000 words receives twice the mobile engagement.
The primary thought when creating a piece of content should be “does this enhance user experience?” If the answer is yes, then start upgrading copy for that sweet sweet SEO. And, don’t neglect the present reality of people utilizing voice-activated searches when you’re doing that optimization. Creating content that responds to how people might talk, rather than how they type, is sure to help keep your content relevant as voice assistants become the norm.
2. Disengagement from your audience
Once you start seeing a downward trend in your metrics (and it happens to the best of us), it’s time to change up your strategy. You’ve become disengaged with what your audience wants. Your goal is to draw in customers and get them to purchase your products or engage with you, and that’s pretty hard to do if you don’t really know what they care about.
So do your research. Sometimes it can be as simple as a search on Twitter, Instagram, or Answer the Public. Ask yourself:
- What are my customers posting about?
- What kind of products are they interested in?
- How do they react to the marketing I’m trying?
Once you’ve gathered some of this information, tweak your social strategy. If influencers have a strong pull over your audience, engage with more of them. Examine the contexts in which customers use and talk about your product. For example, if you’re seeing more twenty-something men using your product or visiting your content, tweak your strategy to hit their demographic and answer what they want.
3. Playing it too safe
You’ve probably encountered a few hundred think pieces on why the recent Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad was a complete fail. The issues the ad was trying to navigate were complex, close to audience hearts, and not easy to talk about. From my perspective, the ad (which many accused as tone deaf), made a very large mistake: It played it too safe.
Pepsi relied on stereotypes about people, and portrayed their problems as simple, hoping that iconic images would be enough to sell the message. When you play it safe with your brand, you often rely on the belief that your imagery or message is so easily understandable and iconic that it will be accepted by your audience. Pepsi assumed that it’s audience would easily associate its product with themes of equality, togetherness, and understanding. In reality, it didn’t put in the work that these complex issues required, and it showed. The ad reached nobody, and opened Pepsi up to ridicule.
Provoking a reaction from an audience that’s inundated in internet culture and advertising is no easy task, and it isn’t for wimps. Be bold, present complex and difficult ideas with respect and attentiveness, and your audience will respond.
4. Losing sight of your competitors
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does its content. Keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing and how you can react and respond to it is key. If you’re not paying attention to them, and they’re pulling your customers away from you with an improved version of your marketing, product, or message, it’s your loss and your fault. Marketing is a competitive world; it’s an ocean with a lot of fish in it. If you don’t pay attention, somebody is going to come along and eat you. Sometimes doing the opposite of a competitor, or building on what they are doing in a new direction can be a powerful thing.
For example, while Heineken’s recent ad campaign is nowhere near perfect nor above criticism, its response to the sort of blanket “togetherness” of the Pepsi ad complicates the conversation about racism and sexism, while nestling the message within the ol’ “let’s get a beer and talk about our issues” trope. While Heineken might not be direct competitors of Pepsi, the ad demonstrates the company’s willingness to place its finger on the pulse of popular culture. Make sure you’re gathering information about your competitors, keeping track of your findings, and making strategic decisions with this information.
5. Neglecting UGC
Social media users are clamoring for your attention. They might be posting pictures of your product on Instagram or mentioning it on Twitter or Facebook. Taking note of this and going the extra mile to acknowledge (and possibly partner with or reward) these users can pay big dividends. They have access to social circles and influence that you may not. Take heed not to waste this mutually beneficial relationship.
Ways that you can potentially capitalize on UGC and audience engagement include creating branded hashtags (just make sure you do this carefully, so you don’t end up being the butt of social media jokes) and creating opportunities for users to take pictures with your products for potential rewards (contests, sweepstakes, etc).
6. Failing to focus
Last, but not least, remember that your product and content will not appeal to everyone. The benefits of knowing your select, targeted group of consumers who love your product and will pay a premium for it is not to be ignored. Do your research and focus on finding the smallest possible segment you can appeal to, lock it down, and expand from there. Building personas is invaluable, as they can give you hyper-focused segments to align with and create content for.
I like to think a great marketing strategy is in a similar vein as great writing. Knowing the rules and structure of your field is essential, and having an expansive knowledge of potential pitfalls and traps can help. But, ultimately, your ability to succeed relies on thoughtfulness, agility, flexibility, and the ability to take risks and break rules. Start small, find problems, and address them one at a time. Big things come from small beginnings.