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Fact or Fiction: 17 Biggest Content Marketing Myths

Not sure what to believe about content marketing? Check out this post for what you need to know about how it works and some important dos and don’ts.

If you’re not using content marketing yet, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.

That means you’re losing the battle for your customers’ attention. That’s because content marketing isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the best way to promote your brand.

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Image credit: Andrew Evans

But how do you know where to start? There are a lot of content marketing myths and urban legends that get in the way of embracing this strategy. I’m going to blow 17 of those out of the water today.

Content Production

Image credit: Iain Buchanan

Myth #1. A blog is enough

Having a blog is a good first step in content marketing. In fact, companies with active blogs generate 67% more leads, says Inside View.

But the key word is “active.” Too many companies treat blogging as an afterthought. If you’re blogging badly, there’s no point in having it. Think of your blog as a pillar of your content marketing strategy. It’s a core platform for publishing original content to show thought leadership and build authority.

But just like a building a house, your strategy needs other pillars, or it will collapse. Assuming your blog is enough is a mistake. Add in some other content types for a better strategy.

Myth #2. More is more

If you’re seeing the benefit of producing a single piece of content, how much more attention would you get if you produced dozens really quickly? It’s a risky strategy because you could overwhelm your audience with too much stuff. And if you’re so focused on quantity that you forget about quality, the content will actually HURT your reputation.

A better option? Produce well researched and authoritative content at regular intervals – what Jay Baer calls “bricks” – to boost your reputation and increase conversions.

Myth #3. Reusing content is a no-no

Image credit: Dave Goodman

Many people think that when they post a piece of content on their blog, it’s game over – they can’t do anything more with it.

They’re wrong.

Repurposing is one of the hallmarks of a successful content marketing campaign, but you have to do it right. If you have valuable content, the more places people can find it, the better. There’s nothing wrong with turning a pillar article into a podcast, video, slideshow or leveraging the visual content trend to create a series of images for sharing on Pinterest and Instagram. That’s just smart marketing.

Myth #4. Original content is a must

When it comes to the “feathers” (the light content that is the other part of Jay Baer’s content marketing mix), there’s no reason every piece has to be completely original. Sharing great content and adding your comments is a key human activity that transcends the digital world. Social media sites empower us to scale this process by doing it online.

From memes to cartoons to interesting quotes, there’s lots of shareable content already out there. You can bring it to a new audience via your social media sites. Grammarly does this well on its Facebook page, blending a mix of cartoons, quotes, definitions and amusing images to grab an audience of nearly a million.

Myth #5. It doesn’t matter who writes it

Yes it does.

There are two things to think about:

  1. If you want content to reflect your brand voice and your authority, then you can’t get just anyone to write it. Forget about cutting costs by outsourcing to the third world, and find someone closer to home who can really represent you brilliantly.

  2. Better yet, get people within the company – like the CEO – to produce content that immediately has brand authority and credibility, and shows the human face behind the company. Your customers will eat it up!

Content Marketing and Social Media

Myth #6. Social media marketing is the same as other marketing

It’s not.

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Image credit: Jeffery Turner

Lots of companies make the mistake of doing social media marketing the same way they have done other marketing. That’s kind of like hitching a horse to your BMW. To get the most from social media you need to change the way you think and follow the example of the brands that get it. Expect to have a conversation with the people you’re connected with and encourage transparency and humor as a starting point.

Myth #7. My customers are not on Facebook and Twitter

Using social media vastly extends the potential reach of your content and it’s a must for content marketing in the 21st century. Here’s why:

  • 72% of online adults use social networking sites, according to Pew Internet.

  • The fastest growing age demographics are 55-64 year olds for Twitter and 45-54 year olds for Facebook and Google+, according to the Global Web Index.

  • Social media is more popular than porn, reveals Belle Beth Cooper on the Buffer blog.

The bottom line is that if that’s where your customers are, you can’t afford not to be there.

Myth #8. Email marketing is dead

Some people believe that if they are using social media for content marketing then they don’t need to bother with email marketing campaigns.

That’s wrong too.

Research shows that email still remains one of the best ways to reach people – in fact 77% of people still prefer it, says Marketo. And it generates double the return of other marketing channels. That doesn’t sound very dead to me.

Email is an integral part of content marketing campaign because it remains one of the best ways to let people know about the content you produce in a more personal way than a newsfeed. Don’t abandon email. This marketing channel has great reach and supports your overall campaign.

Myth #9. I can’t measure social ROI

Yes you can.

If your goal is being visible and connected, then you can check out your social media fan base and track mentions and interactions.

And there’s more. The main social media sites provide analytics (Facebook Insights, Google+ Ripples and so on). You can also check what’s happening in your Google Analytics dashboard, which includes social reports.

Put all those together and you will be able to see how the audience attention you get translates to leads and revenue. You can also check out more social ROI tools in this article on Social Media Examiner.

Myth #10. Ignoring negative feedback is the best approach

Image credit: Georgie R

If people don’t like your content – tough. If you’ve been thinking that, you need to change your approach.

The thing that can hurt you the most in a content marketing campaign is being unresponsive. Respond to both great feedback and negative feedback and emphasize solving problems quickly. Recent research published on Bantam Media suggests that half of all customers expect a response within two hours of a social media complaint.

When Buffer got hacked, the company used social media to keep customers up to date and respond immediately to issues resolved. As a result, more people signed up for the service and the company got good publicity.

Myth #11. Automation won’t hurt me

Don’t phone it in. That’s what you do when you overuse automation. Sure, it makes sense to schedule content for the times when you’re not available, but showing up and being there to talk is what builds the relationship. Unless you’re already a mega-brand, if every tweet or share is automated, you’ll see the results in lower engagement.

Purpose of Content Marketing

Myth #12. Content marketing is about advertising

Marketing does not translate into relentless promotion of your products and services. Content marketing should provide something useful to the people who grab your content. Don’t worry; you are allowed to use the soft sell, for instance in white papers where you identify a problem and show how your product can solve it.

Myth #13. Content marketing is about link building

Um, no – content marketing is about providing great content that builds authority and helps customers make favorable decisions about your brand, product or services.

Of course, if you create great content, then other people will think it’s worth talking about and link back to your site. Focus on creating content with depth, interest and relevance to users and you’ll get authority, search engine prominence and backlinks. Win, win, win!

Content Marketing Benefits

Myth #14. Producing content makes me an authority

Uh-uh. Just because you produce content it doesn’t make you an authority on your industry. To do that, you have to regularly produce top content and be cited by other authorities as a reliable source. It’s not the fact of content, it’s the type of content. (See Myth #2)

Myth #15. Content only succeeds if it goes viral

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Image credit: Iwan Wolkow

Everyone dreams of creating a piece of viral content, but don’t worry if you can’t. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean your content marketing campaign is a failure. Measure your success in the amount of attention you get for your products and services and brand. As long as you are reaching those goals, then your content marketing campaign is a success. Virality, if it happens, is just a fringe benefit.

Myth #16. Giving away free content won’t help my brand

Sometimes it hurts to create something wonderful and then give it away. It feels more natural to charge for it. But then you’re missing the point of content marketing.

Giving your customers something of value without expecting anything in return (other than an email address) creates goodwill for your brand. Hubspot has raised this idea to an art form – complementing the in-depth articles on its blog with regular free reports. It doesn’t seem to be hurting their business any.

Summing Up

Myth #17. Content marketing is easy

This is the biggest myth of all.

Sure, if you equate content marketing with just blogging (Myth #1) or just doing social media (Myth #6), you might think it’s easy to do. But it’s not. The 16 myths listed above demonstrate that successful content marketing means thinking about content types and goals so you get the most benefit from your efforts.

It’s not easy, but that’s why the rewards are so large for the people who understand it and do it right.