There’s a lot of misinformation about content marketing these days. It seems everyone’s got some kind of product or strategy to sell that promises to turn your content into gold. The video guys want you to make more videos, the social media guys want to spend more time posting and chatbot people will tell you content marketing is so 2016.
To help try and put things right, we’ve got five common myths about content marketing for you today. These will help you avoid some of the misconceptions doing the round right now and help you spot the kind of things to look out for in the future.
#1: Content marketing is the new SEO
This is probably the worst one of the bunch. Yes, it’s true you can’t do SEO (or any marketing) without content but that’s as far as things go. Content marketing is no replacement for technical SEO and the various other touch points SEO has with optimising a website for performance.
Content marketing is a vital part of SEO, of course. But so is optimising a site for mobile, speed, indexability, security, engagement and performance all-round. Content marketing doesn’t help you pinpoint dodgy links, broken links, duplicate pages or evaluate your competitors’ performance in search.
#2: Video rules, text sucks
Video is the cool kid in content marketing. Marketers love talking about it and how much users need it. If you’re not publishing viral video, you’re not a rockstar content marketer. And, you know what? That’s fine. Because you’re not in this business to be a content marketer; you’re in it to create a more profitable business.
Video is a powerful medium for getting messages across quickly and building an emotional response in people. This is why countless studies find video is the most engaging form of content. It provides a richer experience to more of our senses.
There’s a time and a place for video, though. Equally, there are occasions where text is more appropriate. Above all, when your goal isn’t to establish an emotional connection but rather convey important information, text often rules. Studies have found that younger people prefer to read the news than watch it, for example.
You also need to consider user intent and their environment. Let’s say you’re publishing a tutorial on how to set up remarketing on AdWords. In these cases, it’s hard to keep up with the pace of a video while following the actions yourself. A text article covering each step with images is going to be easier for people to follow.
Likewise, watching a video on a crowded bus when you haven’t got your headphones isn’t going to work out too well. These are factors you have to consider when you decide to publish video, text or any other content format.
#3: All content should be evergreen
Evergreen content is timeless content that will always be useful to your target audience. You can publish in-depth guides, update them every year and republish them. They build up more links, reads, shares and likes over time, gradually building a solid SEO presence that helps you cement your place in search rankings.
Evergreen content really is the good stuff. But it’s not the only kind of content you want to be publishing.
The thing with evergreen content is it fills a specific role for users. It guides them through important tasks, educates them about complex topics and gives them a resource to keep going back to. This is perhaps the most important role content can play, but it’s not the only need users have from content.
Sometimes users simply want to catch up on industry developments, get quick answers to specific questions or update their knowledge on something they know quite well. Other times they simply want to engage with some content that fills a few moments of boredom. These non-evergreen, more disposable forms of content are important, too.
Think industry news articles that fill up your Twitter feed and introduce your brand to a wider audience, for example. This content is anything but evergreen. However, it serves an important role in your content marketing efforts.
#4: You need more infographics
Infographics are another golden child of content marketing because people just love looking at stats and charts (apparently). The big problem with infographics is most of them are designed terribly. Infographics as a concept have a lot going for them, in the sense they can present masses of information in a way that’s accessible and easy to process.
The vast majority of infographics don’t do this, though. It’s another marketing fad gone horribly wrong.
There are technical issues with infographics, too. First of all, they’re not exactly search engine friendly. None of that text and graphics can be indexed by search engines – unless you build it in HTML or provide some kind of transcript for search engines. They also tend to be pretty big file sizes (unless you compress the hell out of them a sacrifice image quality), which causes loading issues, particularly on mobile.
The bottom line is infographics can be great. But make sure the ones you’re already publishing are up to scratch before you start making any more of them.
#5: If it’s not viral, it’s not valuable
Sure, going viral can do wonders from a PR perspective, but the buzz tends to fade pretty quickly. People are talking about your content but are they really talking about you? More to the point, even if they are talking about you are they doing business with you?
Viral content will certainly get your content seen by the masses and it may even get them to pay attention to your brand. But this is a world away from content that addresses the needs of your target audience and brings them closer to the sale.
Five minutes of fame with a global audience probably isn’t going to have the same profitable impact as engaging a smaller, more targeted audience over a longer period of time.
The truth is little has changed in content marketing over the last five years. Your target audiences don’t really care about how long your videos are or how many images your blog posts include – they just want the information they’re looking for. All you have to do is make it discoverable. Everything else is a distraction.