Joshua Nite

Break These 6 Bad Content Marketing Habits to Set Your Content Free

Joshua Nite     Content Marketing


It’s a feeling that all content marketers have experienced, and it’s not a pleasant one. You research your audience, you create content that speaks directly to their needs, and you say “Fly and be free!” as you release it into the world.

And then it falls flat on its metaphorical face. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone: Over half of marketers say they struggle with making their content effective.

There are chains that keep content marketing from soaring. They’re bad habits that you might not even know you’ve developed. Let’s shine a light on these chains and break them—with light? Special chain-breaking lights? Maybe lasers. Lasers break chains, right?

We’ll address the perils of mixed metaphors in another post. For now, let’s focus on breaking six bad content marketing habits to help your content soar.

Bad Habit 1: Trying to Be Trendy

Hey kids, you know what’s totally dope and superfly right now? Writing in that extra-salty, shade-throwing voice that appeals to youngsters like you—er, us. We’re hip. We’re with it. We’ve got the 411.

The previous paragraph was painful, right? Instead of writing in my own voice, I was trying to be something I’m not. Even if you’re marketing to Millennials, teens, and tweens, keep it real. No one wants to buy from the “cool dad” trying to keep up with the latest slang.

A New Habit: Be Consistent and Authentic

Establish a baseline for your brand—what it is, what it’s about, who your audience is. Then keep your writing natural and timeless.

Bad Habit 2: Posting Huge Blocks of Text

Some of the best ideas in the world may be buried in the sixth extra-long paragraph of a blog post without any organizational cues. But we’ll never know. Reading online is fundamentally different from reading printed matter. If your audience can’t easily scan your content, they’ll bounce.

A Better Habit: Web-Optimized Writing

To make sure your content gets a chance to shine, stick with short paragraphs. Use headers before each major point, so readers can scan quickly and see if they want to read further. Use bulleted or numbered lists to quickly make multiple points. And add visuals to really make it pop.

Bad Habit 3: Chasing Clicks

10 reasons you should ditch content that doesn’t provide value: Number 5 will have you in tears! Every marketer has heard the siren song of clickbait viral content. “Come with meeee,” it sings, “I will bring you soooo many cliiiiicks…”

While clickbait can get you a quick surge of popularity, the Internet hivemind quickly forgets and moves on to the next distraction. Remember that OK Go video with the Rube Goldberg machine? Maybe. Remember what car company sponsored it? Probably not.

A Better Habit: Content that Delivers

Make sure your content fulfills the promise in the headline. Content that delivers real value will stick around long after the latest fad is gone. Building a reputation as a trusted resource will pay far more dividends than trending on Twitter.

Bad Habit 4: Posting the Same Content across Networks

Automation software is a boon for busy marketers. But as you automate, make sure you keep a personal feel to your posts. If you post the exact same content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram—same words, same links, same visual—your most engaged fans just got the same message four times.

A Better Habit: Tailor Content to the Platform

It’s important to vary your approach for each outlet, using the text and visuals that best suit the audience for each one. That way you can stay relevant and avoid looking like a robot.

Bad Habit 5: Being Overly Promotional

Sure, every piece of content we create is promotional in some sense. We’re not just publishing out of the goodness of our hearts; at the end of the process, we want the reader to take action. But social media is a conversation; if you only talk about yourself, you may end up only talking to yourself.

A Better Habit: Be Useful

The beating heart of content marketing is helping the reader with high-quality, useful information. Establish your brand as a trusted resource and your audience will grow. People are more likely to engage with and share content that helps them solve a problem.

Bad Habit 6: Writing without Personality

Bland writing is the scourge of B2B content marketing, but the B2C marketers aren’t completely innocent, either. It starts with the best of intentions—you want to be informative, you don’t want to offend anyone—but ends with content so dry a robot could have written it.

A Better Habit: Make Your Writing for People, by People

Keep in mind that “professional” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Bring an authentic human voice to your writing. Write for the specific people who will be reading it, not to some faceless corporate conglomerate. Sure, if you give your brand some personality, it might turn some people off. But with them gone, you can focus on the people far more likely to be your customer.

Success is Habit-Forming

They say—and why would they lie?—that it takes 28 days to break a bad habit and start a new one. So start today making your content more authentic, valuable, and easier to read. By the end of the month, these laser-powered chain-breaking habits will be your new norm.

What other bad habits do content marketers need to break? Let me know what I missed in the comments.

Image via Shutterstock

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  1. Excellent point, Mark, thanks. I’ve seen many brands using candid shots they take themselves, or encouraging customers to send in pictures. Definitely more authentic.

    If you do have to go with stock photos, stick with beautiful pictures and ditch the cliches. Multicultural dudes in suits high-fiving, out. Rutted road through the woods, in. If you wouldn’t want to look at the picture without the article, why include the picture at all?

  2. Nice article, thanks for the link! My favorite quote for B2B content is Valeria Maltoni: ”Your writing doesn’t have to be boring just because it’s for other businesses. Businesses have people who read stuff.” I think that’s the key. You don’t have to be a laugh riot or anything, but keep in mind B2B is still human-to-human.

  3. I think people will read an entire post, even a long one–but you have to give them a road map through it. With a book or a piece of paper, you can see how long something is and how much you have left. With the web, you have potentially infinite vertical scroll–so you’ve got to give your reader some idea of your structure. So headers, short paragraphs, anything to break up that wall o’ text. It’s like Seth Godin always says — squirrel! Sorry, got distracted.

  4. That’s the old joke, right? An SEO marketer walks into a bar, pub, saloon, watering hole, lounge, drinks, cocktails, draught beer, alcohol…