Professional content marketers spend all day online — researching, writing, editing, and, yes, spending time on social media. Sometimes we’re writing for a client and are looking for a relevant, reputable source to link to. Sometimes we’re scouring our social media feeds to look for posts we can share with our own network.
At the same time, you’re probably reading up on the latest best practices for getting people to share your content. But here’s the thing: I have to believe most of those tips are meant for social sharing…cute puppy videos, or the latest celebrity to get in trouble.
People who share content for business purposes? We’re different. We have customers to serve and reputations to maintain. I can’t speak for every content strategist on the planet, but my feed is full of posts I click on only to click away as quickly as I can.
So if your social media metrics aren’t where you want them to be, maybe I can help you see things from the other side of the monitor.
Here are 7 things that have me clicking away faster than southerners get mad when somebody calls a cookout a barbecue.
Your link takes me to a landing page, not the promised content.
This is what I call the “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” trick. You promise content, but deliver a landing page that requires readers to do something to get it. If you want to gate your content, fine. But be upfront about it and invite readers to sign up for your newsletter. Don’t promise content and then deliver a bait-and-switch.
Your content is not safe for work.
I know I’m an old fogey and that today’s rules about what’s appropriate are different. But I’m not going to share something that’s full of profanity. It’s fine to be cool and edgy, but put your big boy and girl pants on and be professional.
Your content is full of bad grammar and misspellings.
Like I mentioned earlier, sharing your content is an endorsement. And no matter how valuable your insights are, I can never let myself forget that I’m a professional writer. Sharing poorly written content reflects badly on me.
Your content isn’t in alignment with how I do things.
I have a somewhat heretical approach to content marketing. I don’t believe that “best practices” are best for everyone. I don’t believe that you always need a writer who’s a subject matter expert. I believe semantic search is more important than keyword stuffing.
And I don’t think increasing traffic and rankings should be the end goal of content marketing. Bless Neil Patel’s heart, because he’s built an empire out of helping people improve their traffic and search rankings…and yet here I sit, working from my home (which is exactly where I want to be, but I have to give Neil credit for his success). But unless you make your money from ad revenue, traffic and rankings aren’t everything — you need conversions at some point.
Besides, the methods he recommends for keyword research and backlink outreach would take hours — and I don’t know many solopreneurs and small businesses that have that kind of time. I honestly can’t imagine a situation in which I’d do that; I’d rather put the time into exploring real leads for actual work than into generating a bunch of traffic from people who may never even need a content strategist.
I’m sure there are many more examples I can’t think of right now, but I’m not going to share content that repeats the same old “best practices” if I don’t think it will serve my audience’s needs. If I think the emperor is naked, I’m not going to tell my network how much they should love his outfit.
I’m not going to share content that has annoying popups.
I know the analytics say popups work. But few things annoy me more than getting a paragraph or so into a post only to have my vision obscured by an ad that takes up most of the screen. And I don’t want to do that to my audience.
I’m not going to share content that doesn’t acknowledge reality.
I first noticed this “pretend your ideal is real” trend not in content marketing, but in good, old-fashioned blogging. There were all these moms on Scary Mommy and Medium talking about how they would never, ever say the word “fat” to their daughters, because body size doesn’t matter. I had to call BS, because body size does matter. It shouldn’t matter, but until we get to that ideal state, girls get bullied for being fat, and pretending they don’t isn’t going to change that. I always worried what would happen when these girls who were always told they were perfect just as they were got to high school and met up with the Mean Girls. Would they blame their mothers for lying to them?
(As an aside, one time when my daughter grabbed a third brownie, I told her to put it back. She asked me why, and I gave her the PC line, “Because it’s not healthy.” Her response? “Will it make me die?” I told her, “No, but it will make you fat.” And she put the brownie down without another word.)
It wasn’t the belief that body size shouldn’t matter that bothered me; it was the pretending. And I have the same reaction when I read marketing content that ignores reality and pretends everything is rainbows and pink, sparkly bubbles.
Want an example? Except for startups, I won’t link to a post that gives tips for getting employees to share company content unless it acknowledges the real problem: Not every employee is madly in love with their employer or its products.
I’m pretty sure there are cat lovers who work in Accounting or HR at companies that make or sell dog products, and their friends would think it was weird if they suddenly started posting things about “the greatest dog toy ever!”
And I’m sure some luxury car manufacturers have employees who believe everyone should use public transportation or drive electric cars. They may be in Legal or Finance rather than Marketing or Product Development, but they’re there, and their friends would really think it was weird if they started sharing posts about behemoth, luxury, gas-guzzling SUVs.
I bet there are even employees in most companies who dread coming to work each day. So if your tips for getting employees to share content don’t acknowledge that some people go to work just for the paycheck, and, instead, pretend that all employees will happily share the organization’s content if they would only make it easy or simply ask them to, I’m not going to share that, because I don’t live in fairy tale land.
I’m not going to share content that trashes your competitors.
Trash-talking is for teenaged boys. Trust me; I have one who plays both football and wrestling, and trash talk is part of the atmosphere, like oxygen. But it belongs in the gym and on the field, not in the business world. Just don’t.
Oh, and don’t take something that’s been an industry standard for years and talk about it as if it’s a heinous crime (like raising your auto insurance rates after you have an accident) just because you’ve decided to it differently. (You know who you are.) Go ahead and brag about the fact that you’ve changed for the customers’ benefit, but don’t portray your competitors as villains for doing what’s always been done. If your content is full of self-righteous shock and horror, I won’t share it.
I’m not going to share your content if you lie.
And that includes not telling the whole truth, or conveniently leaving out facts that are unflattering. It also includes (a personal pet peeve) bragging that your product is gluten-free when a particular food (bananas, anyone?) are and have always been gluten-free.
All that stuff that supposedly makes content shareable is for content that’s primarily entertainment. If your content is about business, be businesslike and professional. And then I’ll be more than happy to share, because sharing thoughtful, insightful, content with a unique perspective makes me look good, too. (And I love helping writers who get it.)