A realm of endless possibilities, content marketing is a fascinating and rewarding field. The unpredictability of the feedback generated from a piece of content is a testament to its dynamic nature. Recently, I've had two experiences that led me to a profound realization about the true impact of content in the digital marketing world.
The Unexpected Impact of a LinkedIn Post
My first "viral" (ha ha, I know, I know) encounter was back in 2014 when I posted an article on LinkedIn Pulse titled "Is Social Media Turning You Into a Minimum-Wage Employee?"
To my surprise, this piece attracted an avalanche of viewers (47,000+), with more than two thousand people engaging through shares and leaving 244 comments. This response was a pleasant surprise, but it also raised a question: were these views and comments truly beneficial to my company?
In search of answers, I posted a second article, publicly questioning the net positive impact. The responses were a mixed bag, with some suggesting I was overthinking social. Others thought I was looking at a gift horse in the mouth with a significant portion posting grumpy cat photos, famous sayings, and inspirational quotes to prove their points.
A Reality of Second-Tier Content
Did this flood of responses alter my perspective? A bit. It reinforced my belief that impressions and the types of content designed to attract them are meaningless from an immediate-sales-impact perspective. But, what about a networking or personal brand awareness angle?
Let's talk about what some people refer to as second-tier content. This category includes memes, quotes, jokes, and other forms of content that are instantly understood but add no real value to a discussion. They're often neither useful nor original, providing little more than a quick chuckle or emotional tweak.
This type of content is ubiquitous on the web, and spreads like wildfire, especially on Twitter. But what does it really contribute? What are users truly accomplishing?
The Small Talk?
The internet equivalent of small talk, its actual contribution is close to nothing, but still something. Despite its widespread use, very few people will take a decision-related action because they chuckled at a grumpy cat photo.
I've shared the ROI from some of my articles earlier. The piece with a higher ROI was relevant to my audience and my business. Now, imagine the number of conversions I would have attracted with a meme about a cat that hates Mondays. Likely nowhere near as much.
The Balance Between Fun and Results
At this point, you might wonder if I'm against all things fun, interesting, and viral. I'm not. If you come across a meme or a piece of content that you genuinely believe your contacts would enjoy (and haven’t seen a million times already), feel free to share. But remember, overdoing it can harm your credibility and detract from your core message. More importantly, don't mistake it for actual marketing, as second-tier content won't help you change minds or grow your business.
In your content strategy, authenticity is key. People will embrace you when you are true to yourself.