Ever pour your heart and soul into an article, guide, slide deck, infographic or some other form of content only to see it published and quickly die on the vine? Maybe a few co-workers, friends and family members shared it to try and conjure up a smidgeon of virality. The public-facing performance of the content looks absolutely pathetic - just a few social shares and a big fat zero next to the Google Plus button.
Luckily, you're the only one who can see the analytics. Fifteen unique views are not what you intended for the six hour labor of love you created for your target demographic.
If you could have just spent one more hour doing research and pushed it through another round of edits it would have been on target, right? If the marketing department published five blog posts a day instead of two it would have taken off for sure because the audience would have been larger, right? Maybe if the word count was a little longer or the title was punchier more people would have seen it. These are all comments and questions marketers publicly quibble about online.
This scenario can be pretty demoralizing for a content creator.
Content Marketing Failure Fatigue
It's stories like this that can dishearten marketers and communications professionals alike, and quickly wane any content contributions from colleagues that were excited about submitting. Unfortunately, this story is a reality for most marketers creating branded content today.
The natural inclination for the creators of this content is to blame themselves for not creating good enough content or not creating enough of it. Over time, these folks and the organizations they represent could start questioning the value of branded content and content marketing altogether. Can you blame them? Failure fatigue is quickly becoming content marketing's biggest enemy.
When the hype wears off someone will be left to explain what value content marketing actually delivered. It's difficult to justify large investments in marketing when the payoff is miniscule page views and infinitesimal conversions. This is especially a problem for enterprise organizations because they're typically expected to show a return in the quarter an investment is made - not likely to happen with a new content marketing deployment.
The Branded Content Myth
We've all been led to believe that if we just publish great problem solving content on our company's blog and do it often enough it will get noticed by the search engines and social media in a big way. This might have worked four years ago, but today over 2.73 million blog posts are written and published on a daily basis. Great problem solving content goes unread every day.
The myth of branded content is if you build it they will come. And if for some reason they don't come - your content wasn't good enough or you didn't publish enough of it in a consistent way. That's what we're led to believe when branded content fails. Just keep creating and publishing it, but create more and make it better. Marketing talking heads and software companies don't want marketers to stop creating content because if they do their revenue well will dry up.
In the meantime, marketers who can't seem to strike it big with content marketing likely feel like they're chasing their tails. Guess what? The content quantity/quality chase is a lie. Just because a brand publishes a lot of great content doesn't mean it will deliver audience. It can, but in today's noisy content-spewing environment it's harder than ever. Branded content is not the problem. Lack of audience is.
The Patron Saint of Content - Promotion
The branded content myth above is selfish. Subscribers to it either believe or want to convince others that the brand alone can influence the Internet to pay attention to it through just one channel - owned media. They invest almost exclusively in owned channels and expect to significantly grow audience with these efforts.
It's the other channels that empower marketing and communications professionals to lose their selfishness by converging owned, paid and earned media. Branded content presented to small or nonexistent owned audiences will always fail to deliver profitable views and conversions. It's the leveraging of paid native distribution, earned media, bloggers and industry influencers that puts branded content in front of larger more established audiences. This earned and paid exposure expedites audience growth today.
If you need help quickly growing your audience download this content promotion cheat sheet.
Without promotion, experiencing true content marketing success may never happen, content creators could feel demoralized and the investment will likely not be justified in the quarter it's deployed. This isn't a branded content problem or a quantity/quality debate - it's an audience dilemma and content promotion on earned and paid channels is required to fix it. The next marketer that publishes branded content and gets lackluster results shouldn't feel demoralized; they should be asking their boss why they didn't promote it.
Image credit: Flickr