12 Common Misconceptions about Content Marketing

I don’t know everything about content marketing – no one does.12 Common Misconceptions about Content Marketing

Sometimes we are tempted to think we do but when the truth comes home there is always a lot more to learn about content marketing’s role on the social web.

The concept is constantly evolving and we content marketers will strive to perfect it indefinitely. But currently, some are promoting false ideas about the concept of content marketing and these are sometimes preventing others from having success. 

Here is my list of misconceptions you should not fall for – I would be happy if you add yours to it… 

1. “Content Marketing is a new Concept”

Hey, I am part of the hype – makes me feel really up to date and cool. Still, marketing with (relevant) content is neither new nor an invention of Internet.

There is this great infographic by Content Marketing Institute on the history of Content Marketing. It gives some great examples of Content Marketing long before someone even thought of internet: Have you heard of the Michelin Guides developed in 1900 by Michelin?

Selling of content marketing as a new concept is truly dangerous, as it can prevent you from learning from past examples. Having a history allows you to do better in the future and hopefully build on past success.

2. Content Marketing is Digital

As stated before content marketing has a long history. Business people have been marketing with content for centuries without feeling the need to come up with a term for it. Content marketing strategies that have been used long before the web was in existence include:

  • conferences
  • lectures, seminars, workshops
  • articles in industry magazines/papers
  • industry report
  • customer news papers
  • Special magazines, guides and publications for clients

Content Marketing is the art of producing and promoting useful and/or relevant content. There are many forms of content that businesses use to reach and communicate with current and future customers. Limiting your content strategy to digital and online marketing is limiting your action radius – and just because online marketing gives you new ways of reaching your audience does not mean you should ignore the traditional ways. In most cases the ideal strategy integrates both.

3. “Creating Content is Content Marketing”

You are producing content, so you think you are a content marketer?

Let me disappoint you: most likely you are wrong. There is much more to content marketing than producing content. A true content marketing strategy has to include concepts for content distribution, communication and interaction with the audience. You have to have a clear idea about which goals and which target group you want to reach.

Depending on your strategy, you need an editorial calendar and might need to include your company’s departments in your strategy for producing and distributing content. 

4. “Content curation makes you an expert”

There is a lot of talk about content curation and sharing other peoples’ great content.

This can definitely help you in your content distribution especially if you yourself do not have an endless reservoir of own outstanding content. Yet, it is not enough to share other peoples’ content to make you a thought leader and stand out as an expert in your field.

If you always know where to find great content it makes you an excellent researcher and shows that you know the great content marketers in your field. But: In the end your own views, ideas and concepts are part of your personality and expertise and one of the most important assets of your content marketing.

True content marketing includes your own, hopefully outstanding, content. If you are solely sharing other peoples’ content you are at risk of only becoming a multiplier for other peoples’ content strategy.

5. “Every content is good content”

Being active online and in social media, I sometimes get the impression that there is a competition going on who creates the most content instead of going for the best content. The truth is: you can gain more with one outstanding piece of content in the right outlets or channels and it will give you much more attention, feedback and branding effect than hundreds of cheap pieces of content no one really needs or wants to see.

The risk of creating too much (and possibly irrelevant or even bad) content is: it can easily backfire and mark you as a spammer.

6. “Producing SEO Content is Content Marketing”

Google is a friend of good content and Google is a powerful tool to give your content the attention it deserves – so far so true. But producing content for search engine optimization is not content marketing and optimizing your content for search engines (i.e. keywords etc.) does not necessarily give you success in content marketing. Focusing on SEO content strategies leaves out all the other great possibilities content marketing might hold for you.

Content in content marketing is created for an audience. This audience wants a well composed, informative and entertaining piece of content. Keyword staffing and optimization can kill the user experience and you are lost – Google might still bring people to your content, but you will not successfully market with this content.

It works better the other way round: producing quality content that your audience likes and recommends produces backlinks and social signals that improves your search positions in return. Google loves quality content.

7. “Content (Marketing) is for Google”

Content Marketing is for a target audience. Google might help you reach this audience, but you are still creating content for an audience and not for Google.

If you are creating content for Google, you are doing SEO, SEO is not content marketing (see above). Content in content marketing is created for people: your target audience. It is meaningful, interesting, informative and entertaining – it is created to speak to your audience and not Google.

Besides, I could base a complete content marketing strategy on content, that would never go online.

8. “Content Marketing is not for Google”

Wait – did I not just tell you, Content Marketing was not for Google?

Of course this only applies when your are online and your content is online:

Still, if done right content in content marketing will speak to Google. If your content attracts an audience, they will backlink to it. They will share on social platforms. They will recommend your content and rate it well. Being able to place content on high quality outlets gives you the opportunity to produce high quality backlinks to your site.

Search engines try to record all of this – because they love quality.

The one thing Google is trying to accomplish with all the recent updates is to bring users useful content they are searching for. Even if your content creation is focused on bringing good content to your audience without any thoughts about keywords, Google will eventually appreciate your efforts and help you get your content to your audience.

So, even while content marketing is not SEO and should not focus on satisfying Google, your SEO can profit from your content marketing efforts – or even more you should make sure that your content marketing and SEO go hand in hand.

9. “Everything in your editorial calendar is content”

 We once had a heated discussion in the office about what can be regarded as content and what isn’t content. The line between content and no content especially in social media is blurred, but I will try to give you some hints:

  • If you tweet links and pictures, the links and pictures are content while the tweets are not.
  • If you tweet a statement, your tweet might be considered content, depending on the statement and the audience.
  • If you are running a site for jokes and you tweet jokes, your tweets are definitely content.

The same applies for Facebook.

A cat-picture might give you many likes on Facebook, but only in rare exceptional cases I consider it content.

10. “Your industry is too boring (or traditional) for content marketing”

Let me just quote Lisa Barone of Overit here. She made a statement about this point in an interview with exploreB2B:

“Complaining your industry isn’t glamorous tells me two things about you:

  1. you don’t fully understand your customers need/pain points/ wants and
  2. you are boring. 

The opportunity to create high-quality content is there, regardless of what industry you serve…. Just because your topic is toilets (or insurance, or telecom, or stained-glass windows), doesn’t mean your topic has to be 100-percent toilet focused.

Find those interesting periphery topics, or the topics your customers are passionate about, and create content around them.”

I do not think I have to add anything to this, as Lisa made it very clear.

11. “Content Marketing is the right strategy for every situation/Business”

Content Marketing is a hype and sometimes I get the feeling it is the new holy grail of Marketing which everyone has to do.

As with any business strategy you need to assess if it is really the right concept for you and your situation. In the end you might come to the conclusion that content marketing is not the best, most efficient and most effective strategy for you and you should rather be doing something else.

That being said: I do believe that most businesses can profit from a well designed and constantly refined content strategy – but in business you should always ask the necessary questions before running blindly into a new strategy.

12. “Content Marketing is a campaign”

This complete article was inspired by Joe Pulizzi, who in his recent article on Content Marketing Institute said: “Content marketing is not a campaign — it’s an approach, a philosophy, and a business strategy.

This sentence says it all. You can have a video, a famous article or eBook – that does not make you a content marketer and it does certainly not make your company successful in content marketing.

Content Marketing is much more than the content, it is the strategic and well tuned combination of producing, publishing, sharing content, communicating and interacting around content and being part of discussions with a goal in mind.

Guest Author: Susanna Gebauer is one of the founders of the social publishing and content marketing platform exploreB2B. You can find more of Susanna’s content on her profile on exploreB2B. You can also find Susanna on Twitter.

 

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Comments

  • Kimberly Gurrea

    I totally agree. It is very important to be in tune with our audience, know what they are talking about. we should create content based on their interests. we need to make the connection through conversations. Public Relations and marketing should collaborate to reach the audience and mapped to the customer decision.
    @Boop28Kim

  • http://www.casmccullough.com/ Cas McCullough

    Great post Susanna, I couldn’t agree more!

  • http://twitter.com/madlemmingz Mad Lemmings

    Wow. I think I need to read that three more times. SO much fantastic info on one of the most current topics we all know Content and Content Marketing. I start to see more and more people saying the same things and they sink in. Solve your customer’s problems for example.
    Great post.
    ashley

  • http://www.brittanybotti.com/ Brittany Botti

    Great post! Your first point reminded me of this little H. J. Heinz notebook I found in my great grandmother’s cookbook from around the 1940’s…it’s just a simple notebook with Heinz branding, and some recipes at the bottom of each page. Content marketing is definitely not a new concept.

  • George Bruce

    Great article, we agree on many points. Here are my ten basic/basic paths to Content Success

    1. Content fails when it makes the cardinal mistake of not knowing what to say to whom. It can fail merely by missing the very basics of communication.

    Don’t be in a hurry, lead me gently but surely to the end product.

    2. General data, even if it’s smart, trendy and has snappy titles or phrases, will remain on the page to the extent that the audience does not find itself included.

    3. Not many writers and content providers survey the various groups that comprise a market in significant depth and are simply not prepared to develop content into conversation.

    4. Reality is not cognitive, it is the product of agreement. How can I get you to agree if I have no idea how you think, what you like or dislike?

    5. Without agreement the words are just sawdust. The words, colors, pictures, bullets, features/benefits and sensitivities must rhyme with the audience. So, you have to test them, try them on members of that audience.

    6. A survey of ten people is a waste of time, as far as content goes. You have to survey enough to have a broader sense of the limits of those words, pictures, bullets, etc. “General” pictures and throwaway phrases lose more readers than you can imagine.

    7. Optimized keywords work great if they are connected to tested, well designed communication, graphics and pictures. Just getting the prospect to your website is not enough, you have to usher them into the conversation. Relevance and reality (agreement), are two very different subjects.

    8. Content goes both ways. It has to present the offering and the “offerer“ in an acceptable, trustworthy capsule. I may like what you say but may have doubts about the company or group saying it.

    9. Content needs positioning. How else do you make yourself familiar and create trust if you can’t associate, identify or distance your product, service or company from the rest?

    10. Content is not a paragraph or an article, it is a process. Start at the start and don’t stop until the above nine aspects are accounted for within the content. Close with the close. The key is surveys, lots of them, start today!

  • GaryBSOie

    Great article as always Jeff. I’m glad you referred to bringing things back somewhat to good common sense and what is actually right for your own particular business – ie your audience.

  • http://www.BrandInsightBlog.com John Furgurson

    You’re right, there’s a lot of crappy content out there, and many misconceptions. My personal favorite… that advertising isn’t content. Advertising is one of those old forms – like Brittany points out below. It’s also the most entertaining form, which is great for engagement. Look what Flo does for Progressive. Or the Old Spice Man. Those ideas produce a constant flood of great content.