Content Marketing: The Risk of Losing Focus

It’s been a while, well several years actually, since I last updated this blog of mine. But today, I have a little time to kill, so figured I would post my first update since 2012! What triggered this event? An article I read today that talks about the content marketing paradox.

The article provides statistical evidence from TrackMaven, which at first glance, seems to indicate that content marketing is becoming less effective. The basic fact put forward, is that by monitoring its own content platform, TackMaven has measured a 35% increase in the volume of content published, alongside a 17% drop in engagement.

At face value, this does present a pretty compelling piece of evidence to support the argument that content marketing is losing traction. Yet in the same article, we find a statement that says, “brands increased year over year output on Twitter and Facebook by 60 percent and 31 percent respectively. However, branded content on blogs decreased by 12 percent over the same period.”

And here we find what is possibly the reason why overall engagement is dropping. Companies are focusing on the wrong content channels. We all know that the effectiveness of social marketing is fundamentally driven by how people interact with social networking sites. But just for a moment, think about the way your social networking habits have been changed as these platforms have developed.

I know that personally, my Facebook stream is so cluttered these days with posts I don’t actually want to see, that it is incredibly hard to engage me with a new post. This is due to the way that companies like Facebook, Twitter, and to a lesser extent LinkedIn, have changed their content delivery methods. Shifting to a more commercial stance.

The result of this of course, is that from a content marketing viewpoint, these platforms perform less effectively. Put simply, we are reaching saturation point. Dumping more resources in to trying to make up losses is not a long-term solution.

The thing is, social networking sites offer instant gratification to a content marketer, at least they used to. Make a post, promote it, and see plenty of traffic dumped in to the top of your lead generation funnel almost straight away. This makes it very hard to actually stop attributing social channels with more weight than they truly deserve.

Now let’s consider the fact that based upon the statistics from the article I have referenced, there has been a 12% decrease in branded content publication. The article specifically mentions blogging, but we can probably presume that a similar drop has occurred across all types of branded content, such as white papers, video, infographics etc.

What does this mean in real-world terms? It means that whilst companies are still applying significant resources to their content marketing strategy, they are no longer committed to producing valuable, engaging content. Let me say this straight… social is not content, it is noise.

So is it any wonder that many businesses are seeing a drop in the effectiveness of their content marketing? When they are focusing more and more upon channels that they have little control over such as Facebook and Twitter? Whilst they are valuing short terms gains over long-term engagement?

Let’s come back to the old adage, content is king. This is still as true today as it was a decade ago. By reducing the volume of branded content they publish, a company is weakening its content marketing position in the long-term.

A Facebook post or a Tweet is done and forgotten within hours. A good blog post will carry on generating lead funnel traffic long in to the future. A larger content push, such as a detailed case study or instructional video can become a valuable piece of marketing collateral.

Of course, social marketing is still important. But it should not be undertaken at the expense of not generating and publishing fresh branded content regularly. If anything, the focus should be the opposite, content before social.