The web is full of “creative content”, the vast majority of which we’d consider a failure. The content is generally well designed and mildly interesting, yet it receives zero traction in terms of social shares, links / citations or republications of any form. Creating worthy content is difficult and time consuming but there are some incredibly common pitfalls.
“Build it and they will come” mentality
Unbelievably, this still exists around creative content (and the web in general!). Unless you are a serious brand with a large social following, you are going to publish a piece of content and it is just going to sit there on your HUB / blog / dedicated content section. Best case scenario is that it might eventually begin to attract some organic traffic but it is far more likely to just sit there, very lonely, doing nothing!
A lot of content is destined to fail before it even begins, purely because the idea itself is inherently poor. It might be exciting to the author / researcher, but not to anybody else. It might have been a “funny” idea at the time. It might be a good idea, but unfortunately it is something which 15 other companies have thought of and executed well, thus making it a bad idea. It could be an idea which has zero relevance to the actual company, but sounds good in a brainstorming session. How often do you come across some content that leaves you thinking, “This is a little bit random”?
Poor Quality Content
You could have the best idea in the world, but if the content itself is weak then the piece will fail. Weakness could come in the form of poor research, lack of interest, lack of quirkiness, use of poor sources, failed humour, poor layouts, limited content length etc. The big trap we see many companies falling into is not vetting the idea properly for viability before signing it off. This often means that somebody is left with the “great idea” which is actually incredibly difficult to research due to lack of information on the topic, therefore the idea warps away from the original idea into a muddled and generally weak piece.
No Targeted Audience
An incredibly basic fundamental which seems to get missed far too frequently. A target audience needs to be incredibly specific as opposed to “lifestyle bloggers” or the “auto community”. There are many branches of each and the more specific you are, the greater the chances of success.
Poor Understanding of Target Audience
This is crucial and arguably the biggest reason for failed content in this list. Understanding a community is critical to the content’s success. Approaching mommy bloggers? The content better be amazing or they will be expecting payment. Approaching high-end interior design bloggers? Don’t. The understanding of exactly what motivates, inspires and interests the specific audience is key. A high-end interior design site that focuses on the latest amazing modern inspiring interiors is unlikely to republish your infographic on “How To Build a Chair for £15”.
Poor design will kill what could have been the best piece of content in the world. Poor layouts, use of imagery, poor structure, poor typeface, poor data visualization and the wrong graphs being used are common issues. If your content is difficult to digest, it’s going to flop.
Quantity Over Quality
“Churning” content is an easy trap to fall into. Creating content to tick a box in the overall marketing plan or just “because we had spare budget” is a sure way to fail. Ten pieces of content might look good to the uninformed purely because it is tangible, however, could that time have been spent more effectively producing just 2 pieces that are of a much higher quality?
We often come across companies who have spent a small fortune and months researching and designing a really nice piece of content, and then spend a few days trying to push the content out or promote it in any way shape or form. If the piece does not get instant traction, they will write it off (despite the huge investment) and move straight onto the next piece. Everything is always going swimmingly well in the content creation process until the outreach begins, only to find that nobody actually cares. As Mike Tyson once put it…..