3 pieces of terrible content marketing advice

So, you’re starting to learn inbound and content marketing. Congratulations on taking your first step into the crazy world of content! You have lots to learn; don’t worry, there are hundreds of companies (like us) whose job it is to help you.

This might sound awesome, but it’s kind of a problem. Here’s why. We’re great at content marketing! We know you need help, and we publish a lot of content with the goal of giving you advice. And because we’re content marketers, we make sure you see it. Again, that’s not necessarily a good thing. A lot of that advice is crap.

Here’s the truth: great content marketing is about telling great stories. It provides value for your present and future customers.

As you dive into content marketing, I encourage you to do a bunch of research. But please, please don’t buy into the following:

1. Thought Leadership

Calling yourself a thought leader on your social channels is like walking into a party and saying “I’m Kendra. Why don’t you know me yet? I’m an expert in my field. Bow down.”

Do you know who can get away with that? No one.

Please don’t call yourself a thought leader. You’ll look like this:

What to do instead:

Don’t say you’re a thought leader. Act like a thought leader. Write insightful blogs and engage in conversations that push the boundaries of your field. Share your expertise in a way that’s humble and genuine. People will respect you for it.

2. Newsjacking

“Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story and generating tons of media coverage and social media engagement.” Phew – that’s a mouthful!

When the goal is “generating tons of media coverage and social media engagement”, newsjacking prompts you to act like a brand, not a human. You have an ulterior motive – it encourages you to optimize your response for the shock factor. And it’s ugly.

A few years ago, thousands of women shared why they stayed in abusive relationships. DiGiorno Pizza thought this would be an appropriate way of breaking into the story:

What to do instead:

Newsjacking isn’t a bad idea when it’s done right. Let’s not call it newsjacking though. Let’s call it “responding like a human”.

Be genuine. If your brand actually has something to add to the conversation, add it. If not, be a human.

Could you imagine anyone making that joke to the women in their lives? If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.

3. Clickbait

10 reasons you should only hire vegans on your marketing team: number 3 will totally shock you!

Clicks are a vanity metric: they’re like drinking too much champagne on New Year’s Eve. You feel fuzzy and happy and loved! For about 5 hours.

Then you wake up realize: it was all a lie. Also, you have a headache.

You might have gotten a ton of clicks to your blog. But unless you actually have 10 great reasons to hire only vegans, and that somehow relates to your business, you haven’t actually accomplished anything. All those clicks represent now are people who are annoyed that you wasted their time.

What to do instead:

Write content that adds value for your audience, and write reflective headlines. There’s no harm in optimizing your titles. Keeping headlines short and emotional, and using numbers are all ways of encouraging clickthroughs without disappointing your audience. When it comes down to it, people want the content to deliver on what the headline promises.

Ok, I get it! Value is what counts!

Great! It really comes down to being genuine. Think about your audience and how you can help them. You’re an expert in your field – you’ve got this!