Don’t worship false idols (and such other religious references)
There is a lot of advice out there about content marketing. A lot. And I’m about to dish up some more: stop listening to it.| September 26th, 2016
More specifically, stop listening to the advice given by people not directly representing brands.
You know; digital publishers and professional social media’ers. The ones who seem to be shouting the loudest. Certainly those with the best ‘examples’ of perceived success.
Stop listening to them.
Because while the likes of Buzzfeed, Vice, Lad Bible, Huffington Post etc. are undeniably phenomenal Original Content creators they are not Branded Content creators. Or at least that’s not their core business. And there is a big difference.
While Publisher X may find that running listicles is the thing to, Publisher Y swears by long form content and Publisher Z believes only in ’snackable’ that doesn’t mean it will work for your brand. Indeed, chances are it won’t.
These publishers have built their businesses by creating expectations around the experience and quality of their content and then monetsing that consistency. Your brand hasn’t (and probably shouldn’t).
But it’s not just publishers who are dishing out advice. It’s platforms too. “Grow, succeed and prosper by doing what the super users / influencers / social media stars on our platforms do” as espoused by the likes of Google and Facebook.
But it’s not that simple. As witnessed recently. McDonalds failed big with Channel Us; publicly pulling investment behind the much hyped YouTube channel. Anyone who has been around Google for the past half decade could probably recite the original sell. The well known content framework. The examples given of influencers making great content, growing audiences over time and having them come back for more.
Then when a brand tried to replicate it; abject failure. Not a single episode managed to garner more than a thousand views.
Publishers and platforms are doing a very good job of wooing clients with highly subjective, self serving views, while at the same time agencies are doing a bad job of consolidating information and forming their own opinions; instead falling back on those same publishers and platforms.
There’s an ancient story about a group of blind men and an elephant that’s been adopted as a parable by many religions.
Each blind man touches the elephant in a different part, but only one part. They then compare notes and learn that all their views are different. One man feels the leg and says it is like a tree. One man feels the tail and says it is like a rope. And so on and so forth. The truth is that each person is right, based on their subjective experience, but that such experience is inherently limited by its failure to account for the other truths.
Agencies aren’t blind but at times it seems like we’re operating with blindfolds on. It’s beholden on us to assimilate all the truths and advise; otherwise clients will continue to be led by blind men.