I was struck recently by a very interesting ‘Whiteboard Friday’ by the admirable Rand Fishkin over at Moz.com entitled “How to Get Content into the Hands of Influencers Who Can Help Amplify It – Whiteboard Friday” .
Now I’m a big fan of Rand and the folks over at Moz who are determined to do the right thing when it comes to Inbound Marketing but in this particular piece I found myself continually shaking my head. Not I hasten to add, because of what Rand was saying, but because I know people will miss the point.
The set up for the video was;
“Okay, I made some great content. But how do I actually get people to share it? In particular, how do I get content into the hands of the influencers who might amplify it?”
The key takeaway was that sometimes a simple ‘nudge’ would be enough to get influencers to read, like and share what you had created. To reach out to these influencers and ‘nudge’ them towards the piece you had written asking if they would share it. And indeed, sometimes this will be all it takes. After all Brian Dean did this very successfully to push his Backlinko website to the top of the search results.
What was also really key in Rand’s piece was that you MUST make sure that you have produced something so remarkable that people will want to read, like and share it.
And this is where the whole thing falls down.
This blog post is not what Rand refers to as ‘10X content’. This is not the biggest, deepest and most authoritative post on Inbound Marketing that has ever been written. Actually it’s just an opinion piece and as such it is original; I should know I’m still making it up as I go along….
I will of course be including the people I mentioned above and seeing if I can get the ‘nudge’ but somehow I doubt it. You see the problem is that this post, like most content simply isn’t a showstopper of a piece.
Now I happen to enjoy writing and have written quite a bit of stuff for other websites including Moz, Smart Insights and Huffington Post to name a few. I don’t try to create the ‘holy grail’ on every topic I encounter as in most cases there is already a great piece somewhere out there which does the job admirably. In fact in many fields, certainly the more competitive sectors there is an abundance of material which it would be hard to improve upon.
Don’t get me wrong here; there are still opportunities to be taken where there is a gap in the existing literature and this is really where copywriters should be focusing. In fact it was summed up very succinctly in a wonderful piece recently by Chris Bennington. He argued, quite convincingly I may add, that far too many people are blogging and writing just for the sake of it. They have been told that ‘content is king’ and the more of it you produce the better your website will be.
Most content is rubbish. Most articles are rehashed rubbish, including a great many that are promoted heavily on other channels.
Earlier this year we wrote a single piece for a client that answered a need in the market. We were targeting a single keyword in a pretty hard niche and as I write it is still at #2 in the SERPS, right behind Wikipedia.
Why did it rank so highly? Simply because it was original, it answered a need and it was a quality piece. And it was only 700 words in total, including the headings.
So here is the real issue.
There are a finite number of influencers and each of them has a limited amount of time to trawl through articles. There is an almost infinite appetite for producing rubbish content in the hope that it will do some good for a website. The logic from all of this is that most influencers won’t have the time to sift through and find the wheat amongst the chaff.
Rand’s ‘nudge’ suggestion is great if you already have standing and influence and are writing good material but most people haven’t and aren’t. Nor will they ever as what they write adds nothing to the canon of human knowledge.
In the UK we have a £2 coin which has inscribed on the side of it the quotation ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’, attributed to Sir Isaac Newton. I like to refer to this quite often and to ask my team if what they are doing is building on what has gone before or simply copying? Is what they write going to add to the canon of human knowledge or will it simply be flotsam on the digital sea?
With so few influencers and so much flotsam, getting heard is incredibly difficult.
Which brings us neatly back to the headline. If you look at the numbers, virtually no one will ever read this piece. That’s not to say that there is no merit in what I have written here, more that with the sheer volumes of material being pushed out these days actually getting someone to read what you have written, to like and share it and thereby to amplify your content is extremely difficult.
But this is good.
Because if it were easy then people would automate it like every other SEO tactic over the past 15 years. Right now you can get spun content that reads as well as an article but frankly they can’t spin the stuff I’m committing to print here. No computer can be as abstract as my brain!
When you look at the billions of words committed to the web in the last 24 hours and then try to find the handful of influencers that will amplify your content you can see why statistically no one will ever read this or any of the stuff you write.
Is there a solution to this?
Indeed there is.
Chris nailed it; stop just writing content, focus on placement. Rand nailed it; write 10x content. Brian nailed it; write content that it is worth promoting.
Perhaps perversely this piece does none of these terribly well but then again I’m not trying to rank for a keyword here. I’m trying to inform, to educate and to entertain and sometimes that is as important as going after a keyword.
We sometimes can lose sight of the fact that in chasing down what the machine needs to rank our pages and websites the people who read this stuff are…. well, people. And people are the ones who will buy your goods and services not Google.
So stop writing for the sake of it and start thinking.