When Content Marketing Becomes Spam

February 6, 2015 Content Marketing, Social Influence no comments

Noooo! My content isn’t spam! (Courtesy of Good Karma Host)

Are you a content marketing spammer?

There is a fine thin line between producing useful content and generating useless spam. While some of us do appreciate information that helps us to solve our problems, or increase our pleasure, others may find a continuous stream of irrelevant content interruptive and irritating.

The truth is that many of us – myself included – are guilty of being spammers. How do I know? Well, just look at the sheer amount of content – good, bad and ugly – that is out there on the social webs!

Evidence of Content Spamming

How of we know if we have overstayed our welcome in the inboxes, newsfeeds and social dashboards of our friends, fans and customers?

Well, consider if any of the following rings a bell:

  1. Comments and responses to your posts and emails start dropping like flies;
  2. Fewer and fewer friends, fans and followers are liking, sharing or retweeting your content;
  3. You have increased your investment in sponsored posts, banners and tweets yet achieved the same or lower levels of engagement on social networks;
  4. Visitorship to your website, blog or Facebook page starts declining;
  5. Folks on your email list or fan page begin unsubscribing or “unliking” your page in droves;
  6. You start getting banned in groups and communities on social networks (been there, done that!); or
  7. You generate a “hate” site from anti-fans intent on criticising everything you’ve done (although that may also be a form of flattery).

What should you do when you suffer the law of diminishing returns despite the prodigious content which you’ve painstaking produced? And no, burying your head in the sand or sticking it in the clouds does not help one bit.

Audit Your Content Marketing Processes

First, ask a colleague, friend or family member to critically review the content you push out. Give them the freedom to be completely frank and honest in conveying their judgement. Provide them with the following “audit” questions:

  1. What specific problem do your content address?
  2. Are those issues relevant in this day and age?
  3. Would your fans and followers find the format of information (text, video, audio) accessible?
  4. Does your content hit the 4 “Es” of great content – ie Educational, Entertaining, Enriching, or Enlightening?
  5. Are there better and more attractive content alternatives in the marketplace?
  6. Is the frequency of your content outputs adequate, too much or too little?
  7. Are you taking more than you give? Is your ratio of sales and promotion to useful tips and solutions too overwhelming?
  8. Is your content just *gasp* mind numbingly boring, insipid and “ho-hum”?

Poll and Interview Your Community

After you have conducted an internal audit of your content, shift your focus next to your community. Approach a random sample of your members. Ask why they have lost interest, ignored you, or left your email lists.

Some of the questions you ask them may be similar to the ones you conduct with your own audit. Others may include more open and probing questions, so that they could offer spontaneous – and real – responses.

If the situation calls for it, organize a face-to-face get together. Nothing beats listening in person to what your customer communities have to say.

Is there something you can do better? Have you over promised and under delivered? Or maybe they are just jaded with the same old stuff?

Revamping Your Content Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve got those insights, you should refine, refresh or even retrofit your content marketing strategy.

Where possible, roll out and test new messages, formats and styles. Reduce or increase your frequency. Measure how well your new content marketing approaches compare to the previous ones.

As you do so, ask what you can do better. Do you need to change the frequency of your blog posts? Are your videos becoming too predictable? Is there something new that you can introduce to inject more “oomph”?

In more extreme cases, you may need to rejuvenate your editorial team.

Encourage everybody to take a brief hiatus. Observe and study how the best and most sustainable content marketers work. Read books and blogs on recent advances in content marketing. Listen to podcasts.

See too if you need to rope in a wider team of contributors beyond the usual suspects. Maybe a guest blogger or three may do the trick.

What about mixing and mashing your content with different formats – YouTube videos, infographics, audio files, slides, etc?

Content Marketing – a Cycle of Continual Improvement

Remember that content marketing is a cycle of continual and incremental improvements. Mastery of content marketing does not happen in a day, week or even month.

Inevitably, after some time, you will need to refresh and invigorate your content. This is necessary to stay fresh, interesting, useful and relevant. In today’s hyper competitive digital world, we have to keep ahead of the endless streams of social digital content served every second.

What else can we do to revive our dying content marketing efforts? Share your views in the box below.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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