Five common content marketing mistakes

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By Alexandra Reid

Getting noticed online today requires more effort than ever before, as many businesses are getting more skillful at producing content and sharing it in interesting ways to engage their audiences.

Research from Content Marketing Institute shows that content marketing spending is increasing, more tactics are being employed and marketers are getting more confident at how they use content to engage audiences online.

But that doesn’t mean most businesses are doing content marketing successfully. Content Marketing Institute also said that 90 percent of B2B marketers do some form of content marketing, whether they realize it or not. It then went on to list the most popular content marketing tactics — article posting, social media, blogs, eNewsletters, case studies, and in-person events.

Either those businesses don’t realize they are marketing when they share content through those channels or through their other less popular marketing activities, or they don’t identify those marketing activities as content marketing. Either way, it’s concerning.

But, like many statistics, this one doesn’t paint the full picture. I would like to know those details – what percentage of businesses are doing content marketing without realizing it, and, specifically, why is this the case?

In any regard, we know that many businesses are struggling with content marketing. Here are five common mistakes:

Proceeding without a plan

Content marketing strategies are becoming more commonplace, but many businesses are still setting up accounts without any idea of what they will share or how they will engage with their audiences. A basic strategy should include an inventory of your content marketing resources, provide detailed research about what your competitors are doing online and where your audience lives, what is required to get set up on the selected channels, an editorial calendar that details the kinds of content you will share, how often and where you will share it, responsibilities, and how you will measure success (goals and how you will measure progress to determine success).

Neglecting to take inventory of resources

Further to the previous point, many businesses have existing content and human resources that they could use to support a content marketing program. Take inventory of whitepapers and other research, case studies, published articles, photos, and videos. Also identify other opportunities for content, such as upcoming events, company announcements and other developments. Determine who in your company could support the program by contributing content. Do you have industry experts who are also strong writers? Do you have an employee who does photography as a hobby? Avoid nominating people for these activities because you may not have their full commitment. Instead, encourage them to volunteer – incentives can be good for motivation.

Ignoring the competition

Again, you must research how your competition is using content marketing to attract and maintain their audiences to determine what works, and what you could do better. Researching your competition also helps you understand where your audience is most active and the kinds of content they find most engaging. Your competition likely went through the trial-and-error process to determine their approach. By ignoring them, you will miss important information that you could apply to your content marketing program.

Disregarding the details

We all need an editor … sometimes even editors need one. Hire one internally or outsource this responsibility to someone you trust to do the job properly. Everything needs a second set of eyes – blog posts, Facebook status updates, LinkedIn discussions, and even tweets. Typos and other miscommunications can end up anywhere. Your audience might tolerate the occasional spelling mistake. But added up over time those errors will help shape your audience’s perception of your business, and it’s likely “detail-oriented” won’t be the first opinion that comes to mind.

Addressing the needs of the company over those of the community

Inbound marketing activities should be community-driven, not company-driven. While it’s important to get your company’s message heard, do so in a way that is valuable to your audience. Shouting press releases and other company developments isn’t a very effective approach for engaging a community. Instead, flip the story around and explain why the announcement or new development matters to them. The majority of your content shouldn’t be directly about your company. Balance those updates with other news that indirectly supports your business, such as news pertaining to your industry and educational pieces. Also, showing can sometimes be better than telling. Use multimedia such as photos and videos to tell company stories that engage your audience.

Image: Communications Catalyst

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