The options for content have grown but for some reason, the idea of content marketing has stayed the same.
There is a shift that needs to take place and it should have happened yesterday.
Let me rephrase that.
You must make a shift in how you think of content marketing or you will be wasting your time and money.
Does this all sound a little dramatic? If you’re still clinging to the old ideas of content marketing, then yes it does.
If this is the case for you, I’m here to tell you that you’re living in a desert and the temperature is rising.
If you want to stick to the same old thing, good luck to you. At least the sandstorms will bury the corpse of your content marketing.
However, I’m guessing you might want your content marketing to live a long fruitful life. If that’s you, have some water, and let’s get moving.
What is Content Marketing?
Before I dive in, let’s define content marketing.
Actually, let’s take a step back from this. What is considered content?
Believe it or not, you consume tons of content every day.
Some you read, some you listen to, and some you watch and listen to.
It engages your senses.
It entertains and informs.
Sometimes you find it annoying such as when you receive a piece of direct mail you consider junk.
Content comes in many forms and has many different purposes.
So, what is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as: “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
That’s a long sentence. I feel like I’m running out of breath just reading it.
Let’s talk this out.
First, content marketing is something you do to help you reach your marketing goals.
Second, you create and promote materials on a consistent basis that are relevant to your target audience.
If you’re creating content but not promoting it, it’s not content marketing. It’s just you creating content.
If you’re not creating it to be helpful to your target audience, you’re wasting your time.
Finally, it is trying to attract and retain your audience so you can eventually convert them into a customer.
Simple enough. At least in theory.
Every content marketing article I’ve ever read has tied content marketing to a blog but this comes with some obstacles that weren’t there a few years ago.
The Problem With Content Marketing
Blogging is popular and a big reason is because of SEO.
Businesses want to rank high in Google search results so it will drive traffic to their sites. A blog is a good way to do this but it’s become harder.
For many searches, Google provides the answer people are looking for without them ever having to leave Google.
In some industries, it has even become a competitor.
Sorry Weather Channel and local news stations but you can get the weather on Google.
Sorry sports sites like ESPN but you can get sports scores from Google.
Sorry Yelp but you can find restaurants and local businesses on Google.
Sorry, Merriam-Webster and other online dictionaries but you can find definitions, synonyms, and antonyms on Google.
These are called zero-click searches. You do your search and get an answer without ever having to leave Google.
As if this isn’t enough, the social media platforms are at war with your website as well.
They would rather you stay on their platform than leave it to read an article or watch a video.
TikTok is growing by leaps and bounds but it focuses on content created on its platform and makes it hard to link out to your website.
Instagram has always made it hard to link out to an article and even when you can it’s a poor experience.
Facebook de-emphasized business pages destroying many businesses that put all their eggs in the Facebook basket. This also effectively turned Facebook into a paid platform for businesses.
Twitter and LinkedIn favor posts that don’t include links.
All this means that it’s harder to drive traffic to your website.
These companies are all doing what is in their best interests. Not surprising. You do the same for your business.
The problem is that many of the tactics that were successful ten years ago, five years ago, or even a couple of years ago don’t provide the same value anymore.
Sharing the link of the new article on social media doesn’t provide the traffic it used to.
Ranking high in Google search results also doesn’t necessarily provide the same amount of traffic it used to.
This certainly hasn’t stopped the same old advice from being dished out.
I’ve been writing this article on and off for the last week or so and during this time I’ve got several emails about content marketing. Every single one of them tied it to a blog. Every one of them pushed the same ideas that I’ve seen for the last 10 years.
Simply stated, we need to re-evaluate content marketing.
Rethinking Content Marketing
Nothing stays the same forever.
The way people consume content changes.
The way content is presented changes.
Video is popular. Podcasts are popular.
Facebook and Instagram aren’t as popular.
LinkedIn has become more popular.
As I write this, TikTok is all the rage.
Twitter is still popular in certain niches but if Elon Musk ends up buying it, he could turn into something that we don’t even recognize.
Snapchat is still Snapchat. They seemed to be in an eternal struggle. Never quite taking off but doing just enough to stay alive.
Pinterest is also still popular within certain niches.
Messaging apps are big.
YouTube has adapted to TikTok and is still going strong.
BeReal is starting to gain popularity and is a social media platform to keep your eye on. It looks like could take the promise of Instagram and turn it into something big.
Despite being declared dead, email marketing can still be a great channel for you.
There has been much change but there are still great options for you to produce content to promote your business.
And to be fair, the content you created to help your market your business could always be something more than a blog post. It just wasn’t talked about as much.
Today I’m talking about it.
Content marketing needs to be something more than your blog. You need to embrace the other options you have available.
You need to come to terms with the fact that not all the content you create will drive traffic directly to your site.
But if it’s done right, it can still result in people visiting your site to check out your business.
The New Content Marketing
One night you sit down to watch the local news. There is a story on a new business that just opened and after watching it, you’re intrigued so you open a browser on your phone and google them.
You like what you see and a couple of days later, you visit their store and make a purchase.
This is public relations at work. Placing a story for a client that gets covered by the media and it brings awareness and/or interest.
The New Content Marketing isn’t only obsessed with driving traffic to your website.
It recognizes that you are creating content to help your audience first and foremost. If you can do this and do it well, you can still drive a visit to your website regardless of the format of that content or where it is engaging people.
The goal is the same but the way you do it is different.
Let me tell you a quick story.
I recently discovered a comedian named Taylor Tomlinson. I found her on Instagram.
I had followed a couple of other comedians and a reel she shared popped up as a suggestion. I watched it and thought she was hilarious. I went to her Instagram page and watched more reels and then started following her.
I went to YouTube to see if I could find some longer videos. I followed her there as well.
Over the next few days, I consumed more of her content on Instagram and YouTube.
My interest had grown.
I did a google search and found her website which I visited. I could see she was on tour. No dates near me but hey, she has two Netflix specials.
I watched both of them.
I went back to her website to see if she had an album out. Nothing yet but at least I can continue to consume her content and hope her tour brings her to my neck of the woods. And maybe an album will materialize someday.
A month ago I had no idea who Taylor Tomlinson was. Now I’m a big fan. One of the highlights of my day is getting some laughs watching her material on Instagram and/or YouTube.
Taylor doesn’t have a blog. There wasn’t an article that I found on Google or was shared on social media.
I did find her through her content but it was after consuming it on third-party platforms that I decided to go to her website.
And yes, she does have content on her site in the form of embedded videos from YouTube.
Let’s go back really quick and look at that content marketing definition again.
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
You may have noticed already but nowhere in that definition does include the word “blog” or “website”.
It leaves it wide open.
As Google and the social media networks make it harder for people to visit your website, you can’t just stand pat.
In a perfect world, all your content would be used to drive people directly to your website. We don’t live in a perfect world.
You need to play the cards you’ve been dealt.
The content you create such as a video that lives on TikTok or is presented in the form of a podcast that is on Spotify can create awareness and interest.
It will have a different job than the blog posts you create. You still want to be helpful but the job of that video is to create enough interest for people to search for you.
It’s nice when somebody sees you sharing content on Twitter and clicks the link.
It’s nice when they do a search on Google on a topic that leads to your website.
I don’t want to take away from either of these two things. The goal is to get people to your website to learn more about you and both of these can do the job.
Don’t sleep on social or on SEO. Both are valuable.
But, compared to somebody who deliberately typed your name into Google. I mean, you already have them.
Your content did the job you were hoping it would do which is to convince people you have their answers.
Who do you think is more likely to convert, the people who are visiting to check you out or the ones that are deliberately trying to find you?
Yeah. Content marketing is not just blogging.
A Change in Mindset
This isn’t a post that’s a diatribe against blogs. After all, this post is on…a blog.
However, you don’t have to think blog first when creating content. This requires a change in mindset.
There may be a more fitting option for a specific piece of content.
Just make sure that where your content ends up is where your audience is at.
If your audience is on TikTok it doesn’t make sense to be creating Instagram Reels.
It doesn’t stop here. It is always a good idea to think about how you can remix your content. Think about how you can present it in a form that works somewhere else.
I’ve turned presentations into blog posts and blog posts into videos. I’ve distilled the ideas in a blog post down into a few paragraphs that I’ve shared on social media.
There may be one place that you feel is perfect to make your content shine but one piece of content can be turned into many pieces of content for different channels.
You can take a video and turn it into a blog post, a Twitter thread, a series of YouTube shorts, Instagram Reels, a LinkedIn post, or a podcast.
You might have a social media post or series of social media posts that you can explore turning into a blog post, a video, or a podcast episode.
Ross Simmonds is a huge proponent of the idea that you turn your initial idea into many pieces of content. His mantra is to create once and distribute forever. It’s good advice.
Part of what he is saying is to continue promoting your content. Don’t release it, promote it for a few days and then stop. Keep at it.
The second piece is what’s already been discussed. How can you remix your content in ways that extend its reach on different channels?
If you’ve been writing a blog or producing a podcast, you have content to remix for other places. Social media, video, email newsletters, and more.
However, when you are doing this, be keenly aware of why you are doing it. In other words, what’s its job?
Every piece of content whether a blog post, video, or podcast has a job to do. You need to know what it is and how it fits into your marketing strategy.
Content marketing isn’t just about blogging anymore. You have many options. Use them wisely.
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