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Escape the Zombie Blog Post Apocalypse

Stop feeding the content creation zombies. Producing high-quality content, whether it be in the form of articles, blog posts, videos, how-to guides, infographics, or podcasts is difficult enough. Producing these digital assets to help with your inbound marketing in a scalable way is even tougher, and often times quality is sacrificed in the name of…

Stop feeding the content creation zombies.

Producing high-quality content, whether it be in the form of articles, blog posts, videos, how-to guides, infographics, or podcasts is difficult enough. Producing these digital assets to help with your inbound marketing in a scalable way is even tougher, and often times quality is sacrificed in the name of quantity.

You know where to look to get inspired to create great content and maybe even have checked out last week’s post by iAcquire intern Amanda Galluci on how a content audit can help you implement a content strategy for you or your clients’ sites.

However, all of these tips and sources for inspiration are easy to ignore when it comes to scaling content creation. There is an increasingly large, incredibly scary disconnect between quality and quantity.

I’ve referenced it before in my Major League Link Building with Social Outreach ebook – the internet in general and blog posts in particular are becoming a wasteland of linkbait article titles and boring blog posts that exist simply to host a link.

In other words, if I see another post on “Top 5 Vacation Destinations” or “How to Tie a Tie,” I might move to Aruba just so I don’t strangle someone with a four-in-hand knot. 

Shut Down the Zombie Factory

In an ideal world solving the scaling part of the equation seems simple. After all, if you’re producing a few great blog posts to place a week, why not produce a few more? You can even hire a few more great writers, and BOOM, content problem solved.

First of all, we don’t live in an ideal world. If we did, we’d never get pennies while out trick-or-treating and everyone would shower before taking public transportation.

Secondly, it isn’t “just a few more posts.” Depending on whether you are creating off-page content in-house or on behalf of clients at an agency, you know that “more” can mean anywhere from 30 to hundreds more- sometimes thousands, depending on pre-set goals and/or client needs.

It also seems that a common sense solution would be to just to hire more people to write posts and build relationships. After all, more people creating and writing means more posts. Even if this is financially feasible for your company, I can tell you right now: it is the WRONG mindset to have. You’re stifling creativity at the start by constructing a content factory, rather than an ambiance that encourages innovative or imaginative ideas.

Writers or networkers in this “content factory” environment are zombies who are expected to meet numeric quotas rather than value-metric goals. This in turn lends itself to sub-par content being churned out as quickly as possible with no regard to personalization or placement. It’s much easier – and faster – for someone to spew out 500 words for an article on the “Top 5 Group Exercise Classes” rather than taking the time to research and craft a piece entitled “Nasty Hidden Truths You Didn’t Know About Oats.” Only one of those titles sounds interesting, and only one seems useful to its audience. Also, the latter is more likely to interest a publisher, earn placement and be shareable- all bonuses.

You want to create a lot of content that you are not only excited to share with your company or clients but also others online should be excited to share, too. So, shut down the factory – and start building bridges.

Stop Feeding the Content Creation Zombies

As I mentioned before, focusing on numbers tends to de-prioritize quality. What’s simplest way to bridge the gap between quota and caliber?

That one’s easy: decrease the quota.

If networkers or writers are too focused on meeting massive, overwhelming quotas, they will not be able to focus on crafting well-thought out enticing content. Quotas = brains to content zombies. They feed off of them in a vicious cycle of creating uninteresting, unworthy content. The good news is, you don’t need crazy quotas to achieve desired results.

Guest posting works as a way to place a link to improve search engine rankings – that is most likely why you’re doing it in the first place. So why not focus your efforts on quality of placement – which inherently increases quality of posts, because reputable publishers don’t want those crappy basic ‘top 5’ or ‘how to’ posts – rather than placing massive amounts of links? You don’t need to write something that has already been written – a million times – to have impact. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Seems simple enough in theory – and this is hardly a new idea. In fact, I’ve already written an entire ebook on how to use social media to build stronger relationships with authoritative publishers. If you or your team is already putting the effort in to form these enduring partnerships, that’s great.

However, if you aren’t tracking or representing your results accurately, you or your team will always be mired by measurements that don’t reflect content impact. No matter how many people you hire or whose help you enlist to create content, as you target new keywords or take on new clients, you will always be playing catch up.

You already know that a link placed on a more authoritative site, say a PR 7, that gets a lot of social shares is more valuable than one on a PR 2 that no one tweets. Measure posts by actual impact and relevance rather than numbers. If content creators’ success is measured by numbers of posts simply existing, with no regard to where or what it actually is, then they will create posts to simply exist.

By measuring success based upon impact, you are not only boosting quality but also encouraging creativity in post conception, shareability of the post and enjoyment of both those writing and reading it.

Less can mean so much more for your team, your client(s) and your content’s impact on search. Care about measuring and taking advantage of what intrinsic factors count rather than only caring about counting.

Use the Weapons You Have

There’s no doubt that you or your clients are already creating content about yourselves that others share online. Why not put that to good use in creating more great content?

Enlist others to talk about your (or your clients’) brand for you. Find your brand fans and give them a platform to speak about relevant topics or have them write about you on their own blogs or within their own publisher relationship networks. Give incentives that encourage them to create content for you- they’re obviously already tapped in to what others in your brands’ vertical are currently interested in.

Another way to build loyalty with fans and be inspired for more quality content is to respond to what they actually want. Answer questions asked on social platforms via blog posts on relevant sites (or even the site of who asked the question). Even those who aren’t supportive of your brand can provide fodder for ideas on what to write about – sometimes this even helps create the most interesting and shareable content that eliminates the need for zombie posts as a whole.

As you know, things that are shareable provide the most value. However, viral content cannot always be manufactured- especially not cheaply or on a regular basis. Being tuned in to what you or your clients’ brands are doing in the news, on their social sites and internally will help you come up with ideas on a regular basis that are timely and trending. Viral content manifests itself in many ways – so be tuned in to all aspects of brand or client interactions. It doesn’t have to be crazy videos – viral content can simply be something that is both useful and shareable.

The right goals means better content placement which in turn demands higher quality content – and frees you from the content creation quota-feeding zombies. You and your team will build a network that enables you to scale as well as maintain a consistent standard of excellence.

After all, if you don’t commit to maintaining and raising your standards of content quality while scaling, eventually the only post you’ll be writing is “Top 5 Things to Do When Content Zombies Eat Your Brain” …which will be quite difficult to write without a brain.

  • http://twitter.com/dietriffic Mel Thomassian – RD

    Hi Megan,
    Thanks so much for the link :-) I gave up publishing more frequent, yet trivial posts quite a while ago, in favor of in depth, longer articles that add much more value (I hope) to my readers. Sure, it takes more time on my part, but it’s all about adding worth, and it’s well worth the effort. Great article.

    • thatgirlmegan

      Mel,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! & it’s good to hear that bloggers are choosing quality of quantity :) Keep up the awesomeness!

  • http://twitter.com/PaigeCWilley Paige Willey

    Great thoughts, Megan. One of the downsides to Google placing so much importance on links is a “bloating” of the internet–useless articles being produced and placed simply for the link.

    I’ve been saying for ages that companies should hire in-house writers instead of out-sourcing their writing to content farms. There are plenty of writers out there who would appreciate the work, but companies don’t seem to see the value or can’t afford it.