In Which I Discuss Why Content Curation For Marketing Sucks

By April 16, 2014 Social Marketing
In Which I Discuss Why Content Curation For Marketing Sucks [box type=”download”]

Die Dogan DieUpdate:

I’m interrupting this article for a moment to bring you a few updates.

This article has caused quite the conversation among my peers and colleagues. I wrote a follow up to this article called Get To The Choppa that gets into a bit more detail on the topic.

I’ll also be appearing on Ryan Hanley’s podcast Content Warfare to debate some of the points discussed here with Dino Dogan, founder of Triberr.

I’ve done shows with both boys before and they never disappoint. I hope to see you there.

Ralph

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Conventional wisdom is an amazing thing. Especially in marketing. Especially in social marketing. Especially when it’s wrong.

Not too long ago, the social media ninjas, gurus and wizards were telling businesses to “engage” on Facebook. To “tell their story.” Over the next year or two, they laughed all the way to the bank while businesses ended up with declining reach and engagement and a final salvo that included those same Social Media Rock Star Astro Mega Geeks telling businesses that all the work and money they invested was essentially gone and now they had to pay to play.

Sure, this story is technically about Facebook, but it goes to illustrate the Social Media Marketing Expert Super Cobra’s mindset which is to boldly pronounce what they hear in the social media echo chamber as fact.

I don’t begrudge them making a buck, but it irks me that so many are making a buck by misleading, whether by intent or ignorance. All of this makes me question everything that any self proclaimed Social Media Marketing Professional Rockstar Skydiver says. And it sure as hell should make you question them as well.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a social media expert even if they are practiced in the skills of Ninjitsu or are very famous musical performers or are enlightened baldheaded teachers. Not one.

The social media landscape shifts too quickly and it’s apparent that even the social platforms are making it up as they go along. Most of them are simply throwing spaghetti at the wall just to see what sticks.

So what do we have if we don’t have experts? We have a very densely populated marketing industry with a wide range of skills ranging from marketing veterans to day trippers. The day trippers are the ones that think they know everything, but don’t. The veterans are the ones that know they don’t know everything, but seek to learn. Which one should you trust? Neither.

Question Everything

Since I am in “question everything” mode, I want to address a tactic that is conventional wisdom at the moment. It goes like this:

When you run a business and want to establish a social media strategy, you should regularly post your content via your social channels. But you should also publish third party curated content that is relevant to your audience so that you don’t seem like you are constantly talking about yourself.

I have to admit, for a long time I kinda bought into this thinking as well, but then I had a change of heart. Here’s why.

Branding Your Stuff With Brand-y Type Stuff

I love the expression “don’t build someone else’s kingdom with your bricks.” That expression has so much depth and can apply to so many scenarios. However, in this context, I would apply it like this:

What value is there in researching lots of content that you did not produce in order to publish it to your audience?

Oh, I know. I see the eye rolls already.

You do it because you want your brand to be brand-y and full of branding brand-fullness.

But here’s the thing: most people don’t post stuff that reinforces their brand. They just post stuff. And worse, they post stuff because they heard that they have to post stuff.

How does that help your brand? It doesn’t.

I started following a lawyer recently. This lawyer out in the middle of the country somewhere is a curation master. He curates the crap out of stuff.

Ask me what kind of law he practices. Go ahead, ask me. I’ll answer that by telling you that you probably have a better guess than I do.

This poor guy was probably advised about how he needs to curate; curate! Curate! CURATE!

But what is that buying him? Once you factor in that his posts are probably all but ignored on Twitter and certainly gobbled up by Facebook’s EdgeRank, what’s the point?

And the kicker is that if he wasn’t doing all this curation, he could be doing what you should be doing which is…

Creating Better Content That Brands The Crap Out Of Your Brand’s Brand

People are never going to go to your social media site to see you post tons of material that isn’t relevant to them, but they will go to your social media site if you are producing content that is compelling to them in a meaningful way.

Turns out my lawyer friend is a divorce lawyer. Want to know how many pieces of content were related to divorce in the time I was stalking him? He posts 3 times a day every weekday. That’s 15 posts a week. I watched him for a month. That’s 60 posts. Three were about divorce.

Three.

How does that help his brand?

Here’s what I would suggest to him. Stop curating. And stop with the 3 posts a day. Write one good original piece of content per week. Save yourself all that time you spend researching and use that time to write “knock it out of the park” type content.

But this is where things get interesting.

Branding Can Be… Oh, Never Mind. I’m Tired.

While I was being all stalkerish, I reached out to my lawyer friend. Turns out the lawyer isn’t posting. Neither was his business or any of the partners. It’s a…

Say it with me…

Social Media Expert.

The social media expert as it turns out is a twenty something year old college kid that describes what she does with words like “swords” and “geek” and “nerd.” When I spoke to her online, I made a Doctor Who reference and she had no idea what that was.

Some Geek.

Hashtag Fail.

I’m not trying to beat her up, but what value does she provide? How does the brand get strengthened?

Pulling Back The Curtain

So I did cyber-meet the lawyer as well as the Social Media Expert. He said I could relay his story as long as I kept everyone anonymous. After a few chats, he decided to shut his social media sites down. He decided that he had more business than he could handle. Didn’t need any more and didn’t want to keep spending on social to no effect. The social media expert was relieved to be let go because she felt that she wasn’t being paid enough. I’ll let you come to your own conclusion on that perspective.

So What’s The Lesson Here?

I don’t have any pearls of wisdom, but I do have a few random thoughts.

Facebook is getting beat up as of late because of its shift to a more ad-based approach. Most people are on the “Facebook is evil” side of the fence, but the reality is that part of why Facebook is doing this is because there’s just too much content on its platform. People and businesses aren’t posting naturally, they are curating and artificially flooding the network. As a result, all people see is noise. Facebook wants to balance that and one way is EdgeRank and the other is paid ads.

This is the unintended consequence of curation. Lots of noise.

My other thought is that given the state of things, social is a buyer’s paradise. Businesses can be very selective about who they hire to manage their social marketing and what that fee buys them.

And I’ll even go a bit farther and say that given what some businesses are paying their social media “experts” for curation, they should forgo the curation and instead use that budget to have good original content crafted by competent writers.

Then those businesses can curate content… from their own content.

Detailed and well-thought-out blog posts can become a goldmine of facts, stats, ideas, commentary and questions. Businesses can share insights, tips, thoughts and suggestions. None has to come from a third party or require hours of research only to point people away from the business to someone else’s ideas, tips and insights.

For people who argue that businesses shouldn’t share too much of their own content for fear that someone may notice that they are actually attempting to engage in marketing and not just a pleasant social pastime, I beg to differ. It’s entirely possible for a business to share all original content without coming across as a bit self-promotional.

I suspect that this article will meet with scowls. I mentioned this topic to a few people and just based on the idea, they thought it was crap. I’m going to try to make them think a bit differently on the subject, but in the meantime hopefully this article served to help you think differently on the subject.