6 Mistakes to Avoid in Content Marketing

by Robert Moskowitz on November 18, 2013
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Content marketing is one of the most effective small-business strategies for reaping the benefits of social networks. But it works only when your words, images, videos, and the like are both appealing and useful.

Given the time, effort, and cost of developing quality content, it’s easy to fall short of those standards — and obtain less brand awareness or fewer additional sales than you expect.

To get better results from your content marketing, avoid these six mistakes.

1. Too Many Hashtags and Keywords — Hashtags are a key means of providing context for the comments you post on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks. In general, the single most important keyword – often the one you used to navigate here or the one others are using most often – is the one you should deploy as a hashtag. Using too many hashtags in a tweet or an update is off-putting and generally signals that you’re a novice or spammer (and thus shouldn’t be taken seriously). Deploy hashtags sparingly: no more than one or two per message.

2. Too Wordy and Unfocused — Chalk it up to 21st-century attention spans, but most people these days like short, simple bursts of information. Cramming two concepts in one communiqué can make parsing or reacting to it difficult. Follow the “one message, one thought” guideline in your messaging. While you’re paring extraneous verbiage, organize your post or article into easily digestible elements. Help people fully understand your idea without having to scan the text backward or forward to find your point.

3. Too Full of Jargon or Unfamiliar Words — Your goal is direct communication, so leave out words or phrases that require readers to try to recall or look up their definitions. In content marketing, you benefit most when the meaning of your messages is clear. You want to reach your target audience without requiring any extra thought or effort on its part.

4. Too Self-Serving — Content marketing is specifically not about selling; it’s about informing and educating. If you try to convey too many details about your company, your offerings, your past performance, or your customer experience, your message will be counterproductive. Your content should contain only information that’s relevant and useful to your clients and prospects.

5. Too Short on Visuals — People gathering information via the internet generally love visuals: photos, icons, maps, infographics, videos, and anything else that stimulates the brain’s visual cortex. Exploit this preference in everything you post, right down to the typeface and layout of words on the page, for maximum impact.

6. Too Long on Promises, Too Short on Delivery — Hyperbole has no place in content marketing, because it often backfires when people are expecting relevant, useful information (see #4). Resist the urge to add laudatory adjectives (“greatest,” “largest,” “newest,” “hottest,” and so forth). Instead, strive to help people understand the topic at hand, recognize their options and opportunities, and make choices that best suit them.

In the long run, the more your content helps people become better informed, the more they will appreciate and trust you, your company, and its marketing efforts.

Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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