In a recent post on copypress.com, Rae Hoffman outlined the 5 Lies You Tell Yourself About Building an Audience (and Links). These persistent online marketing myths definitely require exploding and Hoffman does a superlative job in plunking sticks of dynamite under each. Hoffman’s demolition of online marketing mendacity can be summarized through the five basic fibs:
- Writing good content before you’ve attracted an audience is a waste – Hoffman explains that you only have one chance to make a good first impression and it starts with your very first post. It’s essentially a self-fulfilling action: You need great content to attract an audience so you have to write from the very beginning as if you already had that huge following. Yes, it’s true that perhaps no one but your cousin will actually ever read your first post, but throwing in a bunch of filler so that you can somehow “save the good stuff” for later on runs the very critical chance that the first handful of visitors will write off your writing as insubstantial. That can create a strongly negative image for your brand that you might never be able to shake.
- Outstanding content will find an audience all by itself – The net is littered with great and semi-great content that has been invisible to all but a mere handful of readers. Unfortunately it’s not sufficient to create something that is truly remarkable and simply expecting the traffic to be drawn to it through online osmosis. The basics of content promotion can never be short circuited, so the routine of pushing your content has to be learned by rote. There is no substitute for tweeting, bookmarking, social network posting, blogging and doing just about everything else you can think of to create clear sign markers on the web that point to your content, making it stand out from the mass of similar work by its unique relevance and quality.
- It’s not necessary to be unique – As has just been noted, great content has to be measured through the standard of unique relevance and quality. The litmus test for online marketing content will forever be whether what you’re posting on the net manages to engage your audience through proposing concepts that are fully relevant to their daily lives; that the content is of such impeccable quality that your reader can’t help but be drawn to it; and that it reflects such an individual angle on a very particular proposition that it readily stands out from the similar offerings from your competitors.
- You have to be a great writer in order to excel at blogging – Your audience is primarily drawn to what you’re saying rather than how you’re saying it. There will always be a place for the bloggers who have such consummate mastery over the English language that they craft prose that becomes permanently memorable, but as long as you don’t commit alienating spelling and grammatical errors that would embarrass a sixth grader you can get away with average writing skills – as long as the essence of what you’re blogging about carries considerable power and impact.
- There’s an end point where you can finally cruise and count the money – That may be the most persistent and damnable lie of them all. The tipping point where you’ve created enough sterling content and now can semi-retire to an enviable lifestyle watching the money roll in exists only in the scam ads posted on the black hat SEO sites. The effort to keep your audience engaged is completely open ended and therefore demands that you keep working just as hard to gain your millionth reader as you did your first. If you think you can let off on the pressure when you’re finally in the black on your marketing effort, you’re in for a very large and very red surprise.
Hoffman’s five lies should be pinned on every online marketer’s wall to ensure that quality, relevance and engagement are integrated into every byte of content. Not only will your brand be able to profit over the long term by the adoption of these standards, but your audience deserves no less.