The key to successful content isn't creating more content, it's creating better content. Here are 5 reasons why your content might be failing—and advice on how to turn that around.
Content is king.
I disagree – some content is king. The rest is just noise.
Ever feel that way? You (or someone you hired) spend hours writing a blog post or creating an infographic because, well, #content. It goes through revisions, gets polished up, and finally, when you feel great (or good enough) about it, you publish it. And then:
The internet does not break.
Your twitter feed does not blow up. Your site traffic doesn’t spike. It’s almost like that content didn’t do anything for you. And if you experience that enough, it’s easy to feel like all that time you spent and money you invested went into a big black hole of nothing.
I’d venture to say more than 80% of people (businesses included) who create and share content online feel this way.
So, what gives?
Odds are, your content simply isn’t good enough. Yes, content is something you must do. The problem is there’s more of it than ever before. And, not just is there more, but there’s more better stuff out there.
To be successful (read: to create content, at scale, that returns tangible benefits to your business and returns positive ROI), the key isn’t more content. It’s better content. It’s choosing the right place to focus—and executing 10x better than everyone else.
There are 5 big things that will break your content before you publish it and guarantee failure. Here they are:
1. Your content answers questions that nobody is asking
Too often, companies create content for the sake of creating content. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, they fail to create content because they can’t think about anything to write about.
There’s an easy solution to both:
Answer the questions that people are asking about your service, product, or offering. I find the best way to get this data is through three sources: 1) business development leaders, 2) customer service reps, and 3) keyword research.
The insights from those sources will give you some good ideas. The next step is to actually search against those ideas to see what other people are writing. Find a question that hasn’t been answered, or answered very well, and leverage your unique knowledge to create the single best answer or advice on the topic.
Don’t just publish an article. Make your mark.
2. It’s not unique, even though it’s different
Many people believe that different = unique. No way. Not even close. Don’t repurpose someone else’s stuff, use better words, and pass that off as unique. It’s not.
Instead, introduce a new way of thinking, or an alternative idea, or a topic that nobody else seems to be talking about. Take the time that no one else has (or that no one else is prioritizing) and create something valuable for real people.
High-performing content offers a different or compelling point of view, and delivers real value to the readers. It furthers an understanding of a topic, not just a definition. That’s the kind of stuff that people are searching for. And the kind of stuff that they’re willing to pay for with their contact info.
Hell, they may even be willing to actually pay for it.
3. It’s not well-executed
Yes, “not well-executed” is terrible grammar. But, my point stands: In an increasingly saturated landscape, it’s crucial that you go beyond words on a page.
Best performing content is both written and presented well. From a writing standpoint, it’s easy to read, error-free, and includes strong headings and subheadings. From a visual perspective, it incorporates thoughtful graphics, images, GIFs, and the like.
Consider this the standard of content—but, like every other area in life, meeting the standard does not equal best in class.
To elevate your content, be thoughtful about your presentation. Convey a personality that is consistent with your brand or your business model. Go beyond words to present a certain appeal. This is much harder to do, but it is undeniably important to establish rapport with your audience.
Make sure the content is accurate, yes. But, also, make sure it has a soul.
4. It has no share value
Don’t ask “would I share this?” You’re biased.
Ask, “why the hell would anyone want to share this?”
I’m not talking about going viral. I’m talking about creating something useful and helpful that people share somehow. They might forward it to their colleagues, pass it around their team, or retweet it. If you’re good, they’ll copy it.
The point isn’t about vanity—it’s about value. If you aren’t creating something that people either want to copy or send around to their team, your content is likely to fail.
5. You have no plan to promote it (or, you spend zero time promoting it)
It’s not enough to simply publish your content and share it on Facebook. Or boost it on LinkedIn and call it a day.
Today, content requires a strong and strategic promotional strategy. Before you even create a piece of content, ask these questions:
Where will we share this content?
How will we bring brand new people to this content?
Can we get others to notice and talk about this content? How?
Who on our team will publish and promote this content?
Create content after you’ve answered those questions, not before. And, after you publish, execute consistently against your plan to squeeze the most out of your content.
Refuse to create “good enough” content
While there may be a lot of content out there, there’s also a lot of opportunity within nearly every niche and industry to differentiate yourself, add value, and reap the benefits. To win, you’ll have to create it faster, and with a higher quality, than anyone else.
Get to it.