Thursday, March 10, 2016

SEO News: Yet Another "Study" Proves What We Already Know

TrackMaven recently released a study that explores the "content marketing paradox"--the idea that we're "generating more content with less return." The study analyzed 50 millions pieces of content, from 22,957 brands, shared in the last twelve months on six marketing platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs.

The upshot of the study? Despite publishing increasing amounts of content, brands are actually generating less engagement among followers, suggesting, as Search Engine Watch seems to think--we've hit "peak content." Consumers simply do not have the time to click, read, and like the flood of content. Instead of reading more, we're tuning out.

Brands must now compete even more heatedly for an increasingly limited share of our time--and money. In its report on the study, "The Content Marketing Paradox Revisited," TrackMaven argues that two trends have made this work even harder: "The rise in mobile content consumption and the monetization of social networks."

TrackMaven believes that mobile phones engender a "grazer" mentality not attuned to engaging with content; instead of reading, we're increasingly distracted by "frequent, frenetic" trips to social media networks.

The social media networks, on the other hand, have become increasingly adept at monetizing our engagement with ads.

To reach this frenzied audience, TrackMaven suggests, we may need to invest in ads: "Soaring ad revenue may well be the Grim Reaper of organic reach, but if brands are forced to pay to play, it better be worth their while."

However, TrackMaven suggests one organic mean for beating "the content marketing paradox,": "raising the bar" for in-platform content--essentially creating hyper-specific campaigns designed for each specific platform.

Incidentally, we have sounded this horn before--here and here.

As we noted last July:

"A common social media faux pas is posting to several social media outlets at once--so that, for example, when you post to Twitter the tweet automatically shows up on Facebook as a status update. This is a terrible idea. Each platform is unique and should be respected as such. Respect each individual audience for what it is, and remember: be an active member of the community."

We have mixed feelings about TrackMaven's analysis of its own numbers. Indeed, we're producing more content than ever; and perhaps this content is inspiring less engagement. But does that really translate to a "grazer" mentality--a browser that is less likely to alight on any particular piece of content?

In truth, as Trackmaven suggests, "as more content floods social networks, the slice of engagement for the average brand shrinks."

This is not exactly an earth-shattering finding. Likewise, TrackMaven;s suggestion to "raise the bar," which mimes, say, the advice of Rand Fishkin, who promoted his idea of 10X content last year.

Fishkin believes that merely creating "good, unique content" is no longer enough to rank. For new or smaller to medium-sized websites to rank, Fishkin believes, they must create 10x content: "Really, where I want folks to 10x, 10 times better than anything I can find in the search results today."

In the end, TrackMaven's fancy "study," offers nothing new. Any content marketing company worth its salt will tell you: to compete, you must, as TrackMaven says, "distinguishing content." If that sounds vague too, you're likely not alone. Fishkin's advice was only nominally more specific. 

The problem, as we've noted before, is that many online marketing companies don't know the first thing about writing:

"It is an irony of SEO writing (that is, writing about SEO) that most of it is not exactly engaging. Despite the frequent admonitions to create 'high-quality' content most SEO writers do not follow their own advice."

Good writing, honestly expressed, should attract an audience. To stand above the "noise," however, you must reverse the paradigm: Instead of merely publishing content with the hope of inspiring engagement, engage and publish content.

So many brands miss this essential point: consumers do not want to be talked to; we want to be talked with.  Engage with your followers by commenting and liking, and you will receive more contents and likes.

Talk with your followers, not to them.

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