99% of content is complete and utter crap. 30 October 2015

Sorry but its true.  

How many of us open our inboxes, or look at our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (or any social media) channels and sigh with desperation.  Why am I getting so much appalling, irrelevant, badly put together crap sent to me?

Our channels are now becoming cluttered, overwhelming, and being reduced to the level of white noise.  At the least it is mildly irritating, at the most like a proverbial mosquito.

Can somebody please invent a repellent?

As we have seen the rapid rise of social media and digital marketing technology and have been swamped with the variety and breadth of platforms with which to communicate - so have we now been utterly consumed with the volume of content.  As audience we are continually bombarded with it, much of it saying the same thing, regurgitating ideas and themes, plagiarising others and, in the main, of little or no interest to us.  As marketers we feel compelled to generate and keep up with the pace of innovation, keep up with our peers and competitors. Keep up with the 'Jones's'.

We sit at our computers and churn.  We have to put stuff out.  Write something. Make an infographic.  Create a video or an animation. Tweet something.
Say something.

Everybody is talking about content.  At every marketing conference or seminar we go to, or in every magazine we read - it is all about content.  We are now in the age of content marketing. And don't we know it.

Dave Trott, in this week's Campaign Magazine makes some very salient points about content - pointing out that, in his view, nobody has yet been able to define just what content is.  Isn't everything content?

At Living, we spend a lot of time looking at what content companies in financial and professional services generate on social and digital media - and, disappointingly, the majority of it is regurgitated or just forwarded from other sources. Our recent ratings of Financial Advisers found that over 52% of them fail to produce audience-centric, original, creative, engaging, relevant and substantive content - in investment banking over 90% of firms fail.  Shocking. 

And then, a spark of light.  Something catches your eye, something that really interests you - inspires you. And some faith is restored.

So what is it that makes this one gem of 'content' stand-out?

Whilst Dave Trott is right in his comments about content, in my view the real issue that we seem to be avoiding is  'relevancy'.  Something that appears to be missed in most discussions about content and content marketing. As marketers we are getting so enthused about generating content and using all the new technologies, channels and gadgetry at our disposal that we are forgetting about who actually matters in all this.  Our audience.

We now seem to be driven more by the channel and technology than by audience.

Whilst we might think that our amazing piece of 'truly original' thinking, or that wonderfully designed and creative infographic, animation or film (and so on) will surely be of interest - what we need to keep reminding ourselves about is 'Will the recipient find it relevant?'

Before you press the send or publish button - just pause for a moment and put yourself in your audience's shoes.  Do you want to receive what you are about to send or post? Really?

We so need to go back to Marketing 101.  Remember what we were all taught about understanding the needs of audiences and responding to them.  Remember that, in communications, it is not all about us, it is about them.

When it comes to content, whatever that content is, the important thing is that it is relevant and that it has meaning to the audience it is aimed at - it shows we have taken the time to understand them and think about their needs and interests, rather than bombarding them with everything - adding to their pile of crap.  

Then, and only then, we need to think about how we communicate.  Is our chosen delivery method the right method to use for that audience - will they engage with film or a piece of well-thought writing, or an animation or outstanding creative graphics.  And, what about channel - is Facebook really the right channel, or LinkedIn. Should we use Twitter or Instagram? Or should we go old school and just write a letter, pick up the phone, or meet face-to-face?

Relevant content to the relevant audience using the relevant medium by the relevant means.

I am hoping that we are now reaching the highest point of the bell-curve.  We have gone through the novelty of having social media to play with, the initial explosion of channels and technologies available (although there will probably be more) and the urge to create noise and publish, just because we can. Now perhaps we can focus more on what is relevant and think more about what we are doing - spend more time creating content that truly is original and of interest. 

Maybe then we will create that 'gem' that gets noticed.

Hopefully, I've done that with this post - or have I? Maybe its just crap.

If you would like to continue this discussion and perhaps get some help with your content plans, creating content that is effective and relevant - let us know, we would be more than happy to help.

David King

Group Marketing Director

Aerosol