How to avoid the content landfill

We’ve heard a lot of buzz in the last couple of years about content and content marketing. Every business is a publisher. Every social media engine needs content to run properly. Every employee and every customer is a content generator.

Every moment in business and in life it seems is a “content opportunity.”

When things like this gain so much steam, it’s inevitable that we either reach a cliff – or “tipping point” if you prefer – or we at least start to wonder about that impending drop.

When every person on the planet is a content creator things can get a little messy out there.

As a marketer, you may now be wondering, with so much competing content out there, is it worth the effort?

The answer will be different for everyone. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I have the resources to create valuable content?

Do I have a clear understanding of my goals for this content and a system by which to measure whether I’m meeting these goals?

Let’s first look at resources and what I mean by that.

I’m of the camp that sees content as a true opportunity on a couple of levels. There’s the thought leadership opportunity in which content is used as a way to establish expertise within your industry. And there’s the engagement opportunity in which content is used to provide answers to questions your customers have and educate them on things that are relevant to your business.

To properly tackle either of these things, your resources have to be aligned right.

For instance, you don’t want an intern or PR firm writing your CEO’s thought leadership blog posts – at least not without a true partnership with your CEO. Maybe your chief exec is brilliant but can’t write or doesn’t have the time to write. That’s fine. But he or she will still need to be intimately involved in this type of content in order to pull it off.

In the engagement opportunity, this is where you need to find the right people for the part. They need to know what they’re doing, how to write professionally for the web and how to adopt and shape your brand’s personality. If you do not hire correctly for this part it will mean the difference between thoughtful content and the kind that’s old hat or just plain old crap.

Now, let’s think about that term, valuable.

What is valuable can often be subjective. But in the context of business, valuable content satisfies two things: it gives your customer – whether that’s agents, consumers or both – information they can use that they’re not already getting from somewhere else, and it contributes to a larger goal of your company.

If your content is not serving both of these needs, it’s not valuable.

On the web, there are two types of content – the stuff that’s being shoveled online each day for the sake of shoveling words and images online, and the stuff that serves a real need. If your content is not valuable, it’s the former and not the latter.

Let’s move on to goals and success metrics.

We need a blog or we need content for Facebook and Twitter are not goals. This approach inevitably ends up in you contributing to the pile of content garbage that continues to pollute and aggravate people online.

A proper content goal for a real estate brokerage would be something like:

We need to provide easily digestible local market information that is both friendly and professional that our agents can use when reaching out to their clients and prospects.

In this case, content would provide value to both agents and consumers, and you could measure its success with regular feedback from agents about whether their clients find it valuable and whether it resulted in new business opportunities.

Another proper content goal for a brokerage:

We need to provide rich neighborhood information that our customers can’t get on national portals that will help to increase our site traffic, time on site, and conversion. 

A broker could measure the success of this endeavor through simple website analytics and consumer surveys.

These are just two examples, but there are plenty more.

The point is, we’re bound to start hearing more and more about the necessity of content marketing this year. And we’re bound to see more garbage content online as a result. But don’t let that deter you.

Difference is, with everyone else creating content like madmen you’ve got to be serious and have a talented team to be successful. Otherwise, please, don’t bother.