When publishing content as a brand, whether that be on a blog, online magazine or newspaper, social media, YouTube or somewhere else on the web, you have a few hurdles to keep in mind. Publishing for a brand means that you’re working as a content publisher and not as an advertiser. It can sometimes feel like a fine line to walk, but being able to create that content-publishing persona for your company is a key component to success.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. There are a lot of brand publishing traps that companies fall into and it can be challenging to dig yourself back out. The sooner you know what those pitfalls are and how to avoid them, the better chance you have of not falling in the first place.
If you’re a company owner, chances are that all of the following pitfalls will not apply to you or your strategy, but one or two might. Below is a list of the pitfalls in order of which are the most common, which conveniently coincides with those that should be taken care of first.
As you get to the bottom of the list, you’ll find some more obscure mistakes that even the most advanced brand publishers could improve.
1. You have no goals, no editor and therefore no consistent message.
Knowing your goals for content publication is crucial because it helps you create the message you want to convey to readers. Because you will hopefully be publishing content on many different platforms, on different topics, and even with different writers, having a unified understanding of your company’s goals will help ensure that the message is conveyed consistently regardless of the who, what, where, when and how of the content. Essentially, you need to have a plan of action laid out and ready to go.
Of course, making sure that you have a consistent message means having an editor. Many brands will have more than one person trying to manage the content that is being created and distributed, but this can confuse things and cause more problems than solutions. As your content strategy grows, you may want to have more than one editor, but you should always have one person overseeing all content efforts (this is crucial, so even if it costs you money to hire an editor it is well worth it).
2. You push your products or services on readers within the content.
Remember that brand publishing means you’re a content publisher and not an advertiser. Continually name-dropping your product or company within a piece of content is not going to get you published or gain you any popularity. People want to learn something interesting about your industry and they want to be entertained by a quality piece of content. If you wrote something previously that is relevant and can help your reader by adding in a link, that is usually OK; it’s the “sales-y” sounding articles that are a big NO.
3. You focus too much on where to publish content and not on who you want to engage with that content.
Brands oftentimes seem to forget that readers need to come first. While Facebook is an excellent place for quality content for many brands, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your company. If you’re audience doesn’t use Facebook, why would you put your efforts there? You can have a Facebook page, sure, but don’t make that your focus if that’s not the platform that brings in your audience.
4. You assume content marketing is competing with your other marketing tactics or it’s an “extra” method.
This was something that was mentioned several times by several different experts in an article on Content Marketing Institute. The idea here is that brands will either treat a content publishing strategy as an add-on or a competing method as opposed to integrating it into the mix. According to what Robert Ross said in the article, “one mistake is to ‘take’ money from an existing tactic and feed it into a ‘content marketing’ or ‘social’ program. Rather, [you] should infuse content marketing processes into existing tactics and build upon that.”
For example, your sales team might be able to give you insight into what questions your audience is asking, which can give your team ideas for blog topics. A video series you created could be integrated into your weekly newsletter. An infographic could be of interest to someone your PR team knows is looking for something visual. The list goes on.
5. You’re not tracking your content metrics and using them to your advantage.
Many companies might think they have the perfect content strategy in place—a great editor, solid goals, quality writers, a good flow of content, etc.—but this can be greatly improved by looking at different metrics available through Google Analytics. A few metrics that will help:
- Audience Behavior. Knowing which pieces of content are getting the most clicks can help you create those types of content again.
- Acquisition. Seeing where your audience is coming from is an excellent way to help you better your content for that specific audience (they could be coming from places you wouldn’t have guessed without this data!).
- Conversions. You not only want to see where your audience is clicking, but where they are actually converting. Put your best content on these pages.
Of course there are many more ways to use data and even customize data for certain tests. Learn more here and get creative once you think you have a good strategy in place.
6. You’re publishing too much and not being careful.
This coincides a bit with number eight below. Companies need to remember that the goal of publishing content is to publish quality content for readers. While posting too infrequently can also be a problem for some, most seem to publish content too frequently and are not careful. If you have everyone in your company writing a piece of content and publishing it somewhere on the web, no one is watching over the quality and message. Set specifics targets. For example, four blog posts on your blog per week in addition to four guest articles around the web. This also goes back to number one above: Have an editor oversee the publishing process.
7. You treat content publishing as a campaign, not an ongoing strategy.
You can’t have a start and stop date when it comes to content publishing. When you create a strategy, it needs to be for the long term and not treated as just another campaign that you’re going to test. The tests are out: Content marketing works.
8. You don’t know how to distribute content.
A content strategy means more than just publishing content on your blog (although that is a good place to start if you’re new to the content game). You want to publish content on other blogs and online publications to really get your work out there. This is great for SEO, but also a great way to show credibility and create relationships in your industry.
Unfortunately, many companies either ignore this step or simply don’t know how to get started. Sending out a boring, copy-and-paste pitch to an editor isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to know how to connect with influencers in other ways—comment on their blogs, connect on social media, talk with mutual contacts, etc.—so that you aren’t dismissed. Relationships are starting to be more and more important when it comes to content success, so the sooner you can learn about how to pitch articles and create those contacts the better. Visit this article to learn more.
9. You’re still following old content practices that ask for link building and keyword density numbers for success.
The driving force behind publishing a large amount of content for many companies was SEO. It wasn’t about readers; it was about getting content out there that was SEO optimized so that their company improved in search engine rankings. Readers were important when it came to their own blog, but the content across the web didn’t quite make that a priority.
While this may have worked in the past, it’s not going to work for you now. In terms of SEO, the content you are producing needs to be quality, link to authoritative sources only, and be published on authoritative sources only. Keyword rich anchor texts links and focusing on keyword density is actually seen as negative in the eyes of Google today, so in fact this strategy will decrease your ranking positions.
Many companies just getting started with SEO clearly missed this change, but it’s one of the worst pitfalls to fall into. You can learn more about proper SEO content practices here.
10. You don’t leverage the stories relevant to your industry. You’re ignoring variety.
Sometimes brands have a difficult time creating a good content strategy because their niche is obscure or they can’t think of enough topics for content, and so it stops there. They write one article per week (maybe) and call it a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to cut it and you have to get creative.
A great way to make this happen is by writing about a similar story but in different forms—blog pots, creating a video, infographics, Ebooks, etc. (learn about more types of content here). This helps give you more outlets to publish (YouTube, for example) and helps keep your content fresh and interesting for your readers. Ignoring this isn’t going to be the worst pitfall you can fall into, but avoiding it should really help your conversions and traffic in the end.
As you can see, many of these points all fall under one major umbrella, have a strategy. Deciding what to write, where to publish it, who will oversee the content, what consistent message and tone you want, etc. are all part of creating that content strategy. Simply publishing content and hoping something sticks simply will not get you the results and conversions that are possible for your brand.
Were there any pitfalls that your brand fell into when publishing content? Do you have any tips for avoiding these pitfalls? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.