Your brand writes a blog post or partners with an influencer on social media, and the response is…nothing. While you know that the competition is tough out there (thanks to the literally thousands of pieces of content that are published daily), you at least expected your latest offering to get some attention. But it fell flat.
If your content is DOA (that’s “dead on arrival”), here are a few ways you’re killing it, and what you can do to breathe some life into it instead.
You’re Being a Copycat
Ever notice that sometimes one blog or online publication will post a story, and the next minute 10 other blogs will post something very similar? While in many cases those blog posts or stories will link back to the original source, they are often not adding anything new.
Being a copycat isn’t just completely unoriginal and boring — it can also hurt your brand. You don’t want people to get it in their heads that you’re the also-ran or the try-hard who’s constantly biting off other people’s ideas or stories. If there’s a topic or story that’s trending across the Internet, sit back and think about how your brand can put an original spin on it. If you can’t, it’s best to avoid copying everyone else, and to sit this one out.
You’re Trying to Be All Things to All People
If you’re trying to create content that is going to appeal to Millennial moms, just-about-to-retire grandparents, 15-year-old skaters, and 40-something single parents, well, you are just asking for trouble.
Think of it this way: You enjoy eating turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. But those are all separate foods, usually eaten individually. Now think what would happen if the person in charge of Thanksgiving dinner decided to combine the pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and turkey into one single dish. You’d have a disgusting mess and no one would eat it.
Moral of the story: Choose one audience to target with each piece of content. If you try to please everyone at once, you’ll just ruin Thanksgiving.
You’re Pretending Your Audience Doesn’t Exist
What’s worse than trying to please everyone at once? Acting like your audience doesn’t exist. You don’t have to respond to every comment, but you do need to be ready and able to engage with your audience. If someone complains about a post or brings up an issue that’s unrelated on a social media post, be ready to reply. It helps to have a quick script or general guidelines drafted up in advance, so that no matter who’s manning your social media accounts or blog, they know the appropriate way to respond to commenters.
You’re Being a Little Too Promotional
People know what ads and promotional materials look like, and they don’t really trust them. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising study, people trust recommendations (earned media) and branded websites (owned media) over paid media (such as traditional commercials and ads).
When you’re working with an influencer to create a product recommendation, or creating content for your website, you need to be careful not to tip the scale over into the promotional or paid media range. Choosing an influencer who’s a good fit for your brand (like a fashion blogger if you’re a fashion company, or a mommy blogger if you make kids’ toys) will keep people’s “This is an ad!!! Run!” alarms from going off.
The good news is that most influencers look at fit when choosing which brands to work with, according to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy (SOCE) study. Odds are, an influencer worth working with is only going to work with you if the partnership is a good fit for both of your brands.
You’re Not Disclosing
Nothing kills content or a campaign faster than failure to disclose. Yet, the SOCE found that nearly 30 percent of influencers or content creators were asked by a brand they were working with NOT to disclose any money or compensation they received.
Not cool, guys. Refusing to disclose or pretending you don’t know the rules about disclosure doesn’t just trash your campaign and make you seem less trustworthy to your potential audience. It also gets the FTC on your back, and you really don’t want that.
Case in point: In 2015, department store Lord & Taylor got 50 bloggers to wear the same dress in various posts on Instagram. As a result, the dress sold out quickly. The store reportedly paid each blogger somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 for their posts, but didn’t require any disclosures, and none of the posts revealed that the bloggers were paid to wear the dress.
Guess what happened? The FTC came a knockin’, and ultimately settled with the department store. As part of the settlement, the store has to verify that all of its sponsored content contains a disclosure from here on out.
Getting a reprimand from the FTC is a total buzz kill. Keep your content from suffering the same fate by making sure you disclose each and every time.