For quite some time I’ve been besieged all manner of “content.” More companies and their PR firms are producing more content than ever before: infographics, reports, surveys, blog posts, contributed articles and so on. A very tiny percentage of it is good or useful; most of it is a waste.
I would argue the vast majority of content now is created for cynical or instrumental reasons. Very little of it is “authentic” or produced with a genuine objective to communicate its contents or to serve a real need.
The objective of most content is exposure or “coverage,” to “rank” or create “thought leadership” or for “branding” or lead generation purposes. And the continuous, mass production of content dilutes the value of any individual document, report or article.
I’m on the daily receiving end of dozens of reports, studies, infographics and other content-related pitches. There’s lots of duplication and redundancy in these pitches and reports — there were at least 50 Black Friday weekend reports last year — and most of the effort is in fact wasted.
A company may, for example, pay a firm like Forrester $25K+ to generate a short report on some consumer phenomenon, only to have it be ignored because its findings are either self-evident, superficial, redundant or otherwise not very interesting. Beyond that, the PR person on retainer is getting $5K per month to pitch the report. If the content buyer/purveyor is lucky maybe there’s an article or two that comes out of the process.
The current frenzy of content marketing may partly be traceable to Hubspot and its advocacy of “in-bound marketing.” Google SEO, however, is arguably the major driver of contentmania. Blogging and “content” are relentlessly mentioned as tools for “ranking.”
But much in the same way that old SEO “tricks” are now proving ineffective, cynically produced content will do little to advance the cause. My advice is: think about solving real problems, answering real questions and generally trying to serve customers with content strategy. Authenticity and sincerity matter.
Just as customers can tell the difference between good customer service and something perfunctory, content that offers real education or information will go much farther than a flurry of .pdfs generated to gain short term “coverage.” Volume should matter much less than quality.
Don’t create content to “rank.” Think about genuinely helping your audience or the end customer. That will be much more effective in the end.