Content Marketing Isn’t What It Used to Be

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I talk with a lot of marketers. What do the smartest marketers understand that the rest do not? They understand that content marketing as we’ve known it no longer works.

Content marketing has been the central pillar of marketing online for the last 10+ years. Write a blog post, optimize it for search, promote it everywhere, and watch the platforms send you traffic.

That recipe no longer works, and it hasn’t for some time. Organic traffic is down, ad costs are up, email is failing.  And yet so many marketers keep going back to this playbook like it’s 2010.

The reason content marketing as we’ve known it no longer works has to do with the platforms — I’m talking about Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, etc.

Beginning some years back, the platforms shifted from driving traffic to our websites (or being benign about it) to actively focusing on keeping it for themselves, on their platforms. 

So what do the smartest marketers know? And how have they adjusted?  They know that reaching their audiences requires engagement and distribution. This is the new paradigm.

Engagement: Posting Content that Lives on the Platform

The key to driving engagement is posting content that people want to consume ON the platforms.  

I’ve heard this referred to as zero-click marketing, which I like; however, I don’t think it’s a term many are familiar with yet. But it gets the concept across.

What content can be consumed on a platform? A video, an image/collection of photos, a written post, a survey, an audiogram, etc.

Not only is on-platform content easier for a person to consume (you don’t need to leave Linkedin to read this post), but the platform also prioritizes these types of posts.

Said differently, content that keeps users on a platform gets exposed to more members of that platform than content that would send those people away from the platform.

Which brings us to the second component of this new paradigm: how to reach the maximum number of people on these platforms, which is all about distribution.

Distribution: Achieving Max Exposure of Your Content

Assuming you post content that meets the above criteria (something that can be consumed on a platform), how do you get it exposed to the MOST people?

Distribution is how you derive value from the content you create, and, in this new paradigm you need new ways to reach people because the platforms aren’t going to send them your way.

Yes, you could publish this content to your brand page, but no one is going to see it unless you pay to promote it. 

You could run some ads to promote your posts, but again, we’re back to spending money, and ads are fundamentally unsustainable, especially in B2B.

The KEY to distribution is getting people to share it to their networks, and the people you have ready access to are your employees: your CEO, the interns, and everyone in between.

You already understand why the type of content is important: It’s got to be something that 1) the platform prioritizes and 2) that users want to engage with. Check.

Well, WHO posts the content also matters. The #1 thing platforms want are users and the #1 type of user a network wants is a user who contributes CONTENT to their platform.  

These content-contributing users are the users who keep all of the other users coming back and they’re SUPER rare — there’s only one for every 100 average users.  

Employees are users in the eyes of a platform, which means the content they post — assuming it meets the above criteria — will be distributed to the broadest possible audience.

And, of course, the more of your people you get to distribute your content, the greater the number of people it will be exposed to. But marketing has always been a numbers game.

So yes, content marketing as we’ve known it is dead, but the simpler reality is that the rules have just changed.

Ready to get the most out of your content? Check this out.

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