7 Tips To Avoid A Content Quality #FAIL

What Quality Content Is NOT

FAIL Road Quality content is 2014’s marketing call-to-action. With over 90% of marketers using some form of content in their marketing mix, your content must stand out or you’ll have a content quality #FAIL.

Why? Because the amount of content being produced is increasing at an exponential pace. Don’t take my word for it—Mary Meeker documented this in her 2013 Internet deck. Mary Meeker 2013 Currently we consume about 11 hours of content per person per day.

There are 3 reasons for this content growth:

  • Social media feeds on content and the increased content consumption in turn drives more content creation, both professional and user generated.
  • More marketers are using content marketing due to reduced effectiveness of other channels and lower costs relative to other marketing options.
  • The number of screens, connected devices and channels continue to increase providing new ways to consume information.

This has resulted in a content super abundance (or glut, depending on your perspective) that Mark Schaefer has labelled Content Shock.(BTW–Here’s how 24 other content marketing experts defined content shock.) This occurs when content production far exceeds people’s capacity to consume it despite the fact that people have found new ways to streamline their content consumption and eliminate extraneous messages such as advertising.

Although we are producing an overwhelming amount of content, this challenge isn’t an entirely new one. Marketers and media entities have been creating information for years while finding new ways to package and deliver it. Every time a new format or channel of content is created – inevitably reducing the cost of content creation and/or distribution – a content bubble emerges.

The difference is that now this content creation happens at an accelerated pace due to the content creation tools that are widely available and the reduced costs which have lowered barriers to entry.

As a result, it’s not just marketers and professional content creators that you’re competing against, it’s everybody – including a 12 year old Vine whiz Lillian Power (until she was kicked off for being underage.)

7 Tips to ensure you don’t create a content quality #FAIL

The first step to creating quality content is to understand what constitutes a content marketing #fail. To that end, your content should not:

  1. Be a constant stream of promotional messages. Buy, buy, buy makes prospects and customers stop listening. Consumers have great advertising detectors to block out information that’s primarily promotional. It’s part of the reason that advertising effectiveness has eroded.
  2. Contain generic information. If your content is general enough to apply to everything, it applies to nothing. The lack of specificity makes your information a set of concepts to which your audience can’t relate. Instead, add specific details like you’re telling a story that you want someone to remember word for word.
  3. Regurgitate widely available information. If your information is me-too content, there’s a good chance your audience has gotten it elsewhere.
  4. Turn people off with its formatting. This is sometimes referred to as THDR or too-hard-didn’t-read. Intimidating content translates to a small reach because potential readers don’t even attempt to plow through it, much less share it.
  5. Deliver its message to the wrong audience. Face it–even a 4 year old knows that his name isn’t “Resident”. This happens when you use the wrong channel to transport your message or you haven’t clearly identified your readers.
  6. Be filled with jargon and buzzwords. Stuffing your content with a lot of fancy words turns prospective readers off. It sounds intimidating, so why bother.
  7. Lack a human voice. If your content sounds like it was written by a machine, chances are that it’s not useful for most audiences.

The bottom line is that quality content is targeted answers to our information needs when, where and how we want it.

What do you consider the attributes that embody content quality?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    This list is tried and true, Heidi. Regurgitating widely known news or information is a pet peeve of mine, though I think brands are trying to take advantage of sharing current events as that typically helps with reach on Facebook. Taking a position or relating to an aspect of the brand is necessary. If not, it just feels forced and irrelevant.

    Quality content to me is defined as helpful and entertaining. If it’s not attaining one of those two qualities, why would you post it for others to read/watch/see?

  • http://www.monicawomble.com/ Monica Womble

    I love this list. It is true that when I come across a Web site that already has something that I’ve read somewhere else, I rarely go back.

    To that end, something else that is important to do is to make a reason for readers to come back to your site instead of the millions of others out there. Find a “hook” to draw readers in and keep them coming back.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Great list here. I think many content creators out there now need to get back to basics on producing content that is grammatically impeccable, with zero spelling errors. It shows a great amount of respect for the reader and for the craft when these simple elements are perfectly in check.

    Thank you for the article,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Evan Ware

    I like this list. I think you are right on the money with these, especially with #5. At engajer, we are seeing that rather than delivering the message to the wrong audience, many companies are actually speaking to the right audience, with a weak, de-personalized message. With content marketing’s exponential growth, and consumers’ expectation for conversation in an increasingly interactive/social internet setting, marketers need to make sure that passive content skimming isn’t an option. Content that puts consumers in the driver’s seat and invites them to decide how they consume the content will prove to be much more effective.