Recently, I’ve taken a few of my social connections out to the virtual woodshed for posting (or from my perspective, over-posting) what I consider near meaningless or empty, low value content. Grumpy cats, goats, lions, famous quotes and other people’s pictures, to name just a few: do they have any real significance beyond some very brief entertainment value?
Dialogues I’ve engaged in have sometimes become polarized, which has got me thinking about the cause and value of the ‘meme’ phenomenon. Why, I asked myself, is it that so many marketers are happy to lower the quality of their posts? Does merely earning impressions over focusing their efforts on creating content with higher potential to attract real business prospects make any sense?
Part of the answer, I think, is that the business goals of engagement are sometimes outweighed by the excitement of it. No doubt another part is laziness, casualness, or even lack of focus… but let’s take a deeper look at three of the bigger reasons I believe content creators post lower value content.
1. The excitement factor.
Even when you know it’s not productive, watching thousands upon thousands of views (impressions) add up on your content is exciting. I’ve experienced this firsthand, as I recently watched one of my articles on LinkedIn Pulse reach in the neighbourhood of 46,000+ views. Few would argue that it’s exhilarating to see so many people paying attention to your work. (Check out the social media ROI case study I published following that 46k event.)
2. Confusing momentary interest with authentic curiosity.
Think about how many items you view on social media every day. Even though there may be hundreds of interesting and amusing things that catch your attention, how many of them truly make an impression that lasts more than a moment?
The fact of the matter is that we hardly ever think about most of these pieces of content, much less actually follow up with them or request more information. Do you think the viewers checking out your content are going to behave any differently than you do? Simply getting eyes on your grumpy cat photo doesn’t do much to persuade them to take the next step, nor does it help to build your credibility.
3. The “instant celebrity” hook.
This is related to the first point, just on a larger scale. We live in a world where tens of thousands of people will audition to be on a reality show in the hopes of becoming famous or winning a million bucks without having to do any real work. For many folks, racking up lots and lots of impressions can be positively addictive.
A New Format for an Old Problem
What I am really getting at is a very old issue – separating the wheat from the chaff. The traditional ad agency model promises that marketing is a numbers game, and that having countless people see your content is a good thing. Their goal: impressions. Their strategy: get as many impressions as possible within the allotted budget / get the biggest piece of the budget possible.
It’s the reason many ad agencies have ultra-fancy offices and create ads aimed at winning awards (I know, I used to be one of them. SORRY!) It’s also why big businesses will spend millions and millions of dollars on spots during the Super Bowl even though they aren’t truly certain of the ROI beyond which ad was talked about the most.
Relying on weaker content to spread your marketing message or snag some quick engagement is like hiring a celebrity to make an appearance at your business. Attention-grabbing for certain, but possibly a nonsensical event that attracts that celebrity’s fans, not your customers. That’s absolutely fine if you have time or money to burn and just want to make a little splash. But, if you’re actually counting on your marketing plan to generate results, then you are best to think it through a little more carefully.
The more I experience it, the more I feel posting memes is the social version of small talk. Acceptable starter, but you’d better be ready to ramp it up to the real stuff fast, as crying out for attention isn’t the same thing as making a connection in a prospect’s mind. It might be a lot more fun than doing the hard work of coming up with a targeted content plan that keeps viewers and readers engaged over time, but ultimately the results make having a real content strategy well worth the time and effort.
I’m a firm believer that content supported by engagement is everything when it comes to truly authentic lead generation. Feel free to express yourself in a way that is unique to you, insightful, and informative. It is core to my guidance to clients when we discuss content creation: be Actionable, Educational and Informational – these are helpful. Exhausting these, it’s only to be entertaining occasionally. And yes, a grumpy cat or motivational quote is okay, just make it a rarity or risk losing the connections you worked to hard to attract.