I’ve got both fans and haters for saying that content marketing is dying.
Is that just a clickbait statement?
No. I do believe that traditional content marketing that relies on generic blogs written for search engines and not for people, social media content made just for likes, and gated ebooks with zero original data or research, is certainly dying.
And if it’s not, we should kill it.
I believe the future of marketing lies in thought leadership and category evangelism through social media and niche communities. The New Content Marketing is unique and disruptive, research-driven, and cause-centric.
And this is especially true for solopreneurs and small business owners who don’t have the resources to compete with large companies on advertising budgets and omnichannel marketing.
If that is the case, are we moving in that direction?
To answer that question, I decided to do a little analysis over the weekend and gathered a sample of 40 job postings for content marketing roles.
My purpose was to see what companies are hiring for and what were the job descriptions and requirements for content marketing hires.
So what did I find? One, content marketers are still being hired to do what they’ve been doing for the past decade: write blogs (97.5%), ebooks (87.5%), and conduct SEO (72.5%).
On the bright side, 30% of the companies in the sample want to do thought leadership (which is not enough, but showing up nonetheless).
Now, most of the job postings in my sample had similar wording. Sometimes I felt like reading an exact replica of the post. Here’s a blurb present in more than 90% of them (in one version or another):
“produce high-quality content generation such as: whitepapers, eBooks, infographics, blog posts, case studies, newsletters, presentation content, survey reports and web copy and newsletters.”
Let me ask you something. Where does all that content live? On the company’s website, of course.
This is a view of content marketing that says: “We are building content for our website and people are going to find us through Google.” In other words, it’s content removed from the users. Someone else has to come and distribute that content, create demand for it, and bring people to the website.
This is what I call website-centric marketing.
But as the folks at Refine Labs say, we’re in a world where people are getting more and more information from communities, social feeds, podcasts, and other dark social channels, not from a blog.
In fact, surveys show that by the time people go to your website, they are already aware of your brand and want to look at pricing, talk to someone, or are ready to buy.
So is all this focus on creating content that lives on the company’s website worth it? Maybe. Maybe not.
What I see the most revolutionary creators doing is creating thought leadership content on social media and doing podcasts or videos that are shared on dark social channels (Slack, LinkedIn, chats, WoM). They are doing live AMA events and creating communities.
In other words, they don’t stay on their websites waiting for customers to show up. They go to the digital places where their audience hangs out and start conversations with them. That’s why I publish my articles on Medium and not on my website, because this is where readers hang out.
Ah, and sharing the blog posts and ebooks on the company’s social media profiles is not enough. The engagement in those is pathetic and the clicks are almost non-existent.
So, what now? Should we stop writing blogs and ebooks?
You can still create them, but make sure that they provide massive value and they reflect your unique Point of View, and it’s not just regurgitating what the top ranked articles on Google say.
But most importantly, make sure those blogs and publications are distributed and repurposed over and over (it’s better to have 3 great articles repurposed into social posts, videos, audio, etc, than 20 articles collecting virtual dust in the blog archives).
- Where does the majority of your content live?
- Are you in the places where your audience hangs out or are you asking them to come to you?
- Are you creating conversations with your content?
- Are you changing minds?
Repurpose your existing content and develop a distribution plan for it.
Challenging the status quo is uncomfortable. Doing new, different things, can make you feel out of place. But that’s the way to thought leadership.