I recently came across a sentiment that truly epitomizes the essence of effective content marketing as we head into 2016:
The more people know our stories, the more they'll like us.
The problem is: Most businesses and organizations are not telling their own stories, or enough of them.
Winning the game of business
This week and last, I had multiple conversations with different international brands and organizations about the content they're sharing on social media -- content that is largely produced by other companies and organizations, not themselves (what we call "curated content"). Sure, the content may be interesting and relevant to their social media followers at a basic level, but you don't win the game of business by building basic relationships.
You win by building relationships that maximize trust, loyalty and advocacy, all of which combine to increase lifetime customer value and word-of-mouth.
The curated content trap
Anyone can share a link to so-and-so's website, but the best stories are the ones that only you can tell.
That's the barometer we use for all of our clients: If other companies can create or share content in the same way, we're not going to create and share that kind of content.
Instead, we create content that only our clients can share, based on stories that only they can tell, therefore making their content inherently different and unique.
That's the only way you're going to stand out amongst the deafening digital noise as we head into 2016 -- by being different and unique in how you create content and communicate with your customers.
We check our phones 150 times a day. We all have too many emails in our inbox and notifications on our social media accounts. We as humans are adding more content to the Internet in a 48-hour window than we created from the beginning of our existence through 2003. Think about that.
So, if you want your business or organization to stand out online, on social media, in someone's inbox, and on their mobile phone, your content needs to be different and unique. You need to tell stories and create content that only you can tell.
Like what you're reading? Don't miss a drop of knowledge. Get my weekly column sent straight to your inbox.
And of course, connect with me on:
Still not sold? That's okay.
Let me tell you about a client of ours that, up until we started working with them, primarily shared curated content on their social media channels.
After we came aboard and made it a point to create content with stories that only this client could tell, the content on their Facebook page generated 25 percent organic reach for the next year-and-a-half, while the rest of the world was complaining about declining Facebook reach. (As a benchmark, the average organic reach for Facebook pages today is about five percent.)
The perceived conundrum of original content
A lot of people say creating original content is a problematic for them, because it takes a lot of time, resources and money -- without any obvious ROI.
I see it as an opportunity -- an opportunity that we as businesses and organizations have to remain relevant in consumers' lives on a day-to-day, and even an hour-to-hour, basis.
Without staying relevant in consumers' lives, you can kiss their cash goodbye.
If the time, resources and money of creating original are too much for you, maybe you should look at the content you've been creating for years (brochures, ads, mailers, flyers, etc) and start marketing in the year that we live in.
When was the last time you were excited about reading a brochure or a mailer? When was the last time you were excited about seeing an ad in a newspaper, magazine or on your favorite websites?
Maybe, just maybe...
You should stop trying to outsmart Google with content that adds low or no value to people's lives. Maybe you should start replacing your SEO budget with a budget that allows you to consistently create the kind of content that works in 2016: different, unique, authentic, relevant, emotional, helpful, trustworthy.
Maybe you should stop making costly changes to your desktop website. Maybe you should go all in on mobile, since that's where everyone is spending more and more time today.
Maybe you should stop piggy backing on content from other sources. Maybe you should focus on sourcing original content that builds relationships based on relevance, interest, belief, trust.
That's how you can stop your content from sucking.
Josh Hoffman (better known as Social Media Josh) is an international social media consultant, instructor and speaker, as well as the creator of The Social Media Freelancer. Connect with Josh on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and sign up to receive his weekly column.
Check out more of my content about social media, marketing and doing business in 2016 on my content hub >>