Excellence is a habit – Aristotle
This age-old productivity paradox is wrestled with by professionals across virtually every industry in the world and has many content marketers scratching their heads as they look for an answer. Producing quality content in 2020 will require a bit of reflection, as we consider where the industry is going and whether we should spend more time with each project, by taking a deeper dive into our research and focusing on the needs of our consumers.
A cursory analysis will show that the content world is certainly saturated, as a simple search for a “how-to” guide on herbal gardening will yield over 153,000 results in Google. Without casting judgment on the quality of these articles and posts, it’s safe to assume that there most likely is a lot of repetition and redundancy occurring. But does that matter? Is it possible to still be successful while focusing on quantity over quality?
What Makes a Good Brand?
The most significant characteristics of any good brand are essentially those by which the consumers have come to identify them with, and these aren’t necessarily put in place directly by the company. Often, this kind of recognition is set in place organically. And yet, we have to consider, how exactly does this quality versus quantity dichotomy come into play when it comes to branding? Well, a good brand is essentially established through what the company stands for and how it stands apart from its closest competitors[i]. These characteristics are best established by focusing on strategies of quality over quantity. It is unlikely that a strong reputation among the public can be developed via quick and easy content generation. There needs to be a more thorough effort made to consistently create high-quality content, which consumers can find themselves trusting by means of recurring exposure to it.
An excellent example of this kind of personalized and diligent outreach campaign is seen in the way Buffer rose to prominence. This company has built a name for its self by helping others build their brands online by offering the kinds of tools they need to optimize their use of social media platforms. Uniquely, the team at Buffer started by writing consistent, high-quality blog posts for the people who influenced their customers. Then, they leveraged guest bloggers to publish a few times per day on their behalf, consistently until they attracted their first 100,000 users. How might we use this knowledge moving forward to generate quality content in 2020?
It Helps to Have a Little Personality
If we consider some of more widely-known examples of successful content marketing out there, we can pick up on a recurring theme: the brands that take risks and show a little personality are the ones that hit a nerve and find their place in the public conscious. Take Old Spice, for example. In 2010, after losing major ground to one of its major competitors Axe, the company partnered up with the marketing agencies Wieden+Kennedy and Citizen Relations to start a daring new rebranding campaign founded upon eccentric humor targeted at teenaged boys and their mothers. The iconic, original video has been viewed on YouTube more than 49 million times. And since then, Old Spice’s revenue has grown by more than 10% each year. Beyond the numbers, anyone with their thumb on the pulse of popular culture in America will instantly recognize the unique flair and character of those advertisements.
We often view risk-taking as reckless and dangerous, and of course, at times it can be. But there are unknown rewards that are possible through taking a chance that can’t be realized by “playing it safe,” and these rewards may linger on the horizon as we plan our strategy for delivering quality content in 2020. But if we focus exclusively on quantity when it comes to our content marketing, we’re liable to remain stuck in the comfort zone of mediocrity while the bold steal our thunder and run away with their marketing success. This is why personality and risk-taking, when planned well and carefully thought out, goes hand-in-hand with quality content generation. And we should harness that understanding to climb up above the rest of our competition.
The Harm of Cheap Content
Don’t dilute your high-quality content with mediocre or low-quality content. The consequence of doing so is the cheapening of your audience’s overall perception of your content and, thus, your brand. And who wants that?
Research shows, that if a viewer takes a look at high-quality content juxtaposed against low-quality content from the same source, their perception of that brand is watered down by the lower-quality content. Upworthy has taken this to heart, by shifting the metrics by which they measure their success. Instead of gauging view counts on each of their videos as their primary factors of success, they consider viewer engagement. They’ve chosen to call this new metric “attention minutes”. This is in line with the kind of attitude that LinkedIn has taken, which is not to focus exclusively on numbers when coming up with a way of understanding their ROI from producing content. Instead of considering solely view counts and messages pushed, they emphasized relationship building as well as the quality of the content they produce. The point is not simply to saturate the internet in a never-ending quest for higher engagement numbers.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.
– Theodore Roosevelt