Published February 4th, 2016
by Swanchita Haze

Hello! And welcome to the latest edition of “I am a hypocrite”. Today, I’ll be using a blog to both share some content that I’ve written, and tell other people not to create content.

Quality isn’t objective – some things are just terrible. And there is an epidemic of content marketing experts compulsively churning out the most boring, asinine and low quality dirge. Over and over again. Why?

It’s not entirely marketers’ fault. Content Marketing is a discipline that’s still quite new, and has been adopted as a sub-discipline of digital marketing, which is also very new. In a way we’re all just neanderthals blindly bashing big rocks together and trying not to be finished by the time we reach 35. The problem is, some neanderthals are repeatedly bashing themselves in the face with the rocks, then telling their giant-foreheaded friends that this is a good idea.

Every day I see new and terrible pieces of content telling me how to write new and terrible pieces of content. It’s the circle of shit. And I can’t take it anymore.

One of the most common pieces of advice I keep seeing is “ask a question instead of providing an answer!” That’s something actual marketers are sharing as a serious tip. But if you’re just asking a question then why are you writing at all? Why are you putting anything into the universe if it isn’t providing any value to anyone? What are you doing with your life?

Neil Patel tries to convince marketers that his advice will get their content “talked about at parties” which is the single most depressing sentence I’ve ever read. This is in a list of 30 tips for creating content. And you know he was struggling to finish that list when he gives tips like “leverage high-arousal emotions” and the desperate sounding “ask your readers for help”.

A lot of advice around blog content just ignores the subjects you’ll be writing about entirely and instead tells you how to “Increase Your Blog Post Production Speed by 600%!” by “getting the words down onto paper as fast as you can”. Can’t fault that logic to be fair. But the rest of the article is unashamedly advocating for crap, before eventually suggesting that creating shit content is okay because someone else will probably edit it anyway.

Even blog comments aren’t safe from terrible advice. This 6 year old Miami-based cocaine dealer will help you write blog comments that will make your own blog grow “like magic” by treating blog comments like dates. Hopefully not dates where you get dragged to one of those content chat parties.

For the record, when we talk about problems with content quality, we’re not just talking about the written word.

Look at this. 

From the first cheap beeps of the opening titles (nice use of the out-of-date Facebook logo by the way, guys) you know you’re in for a mediocre time. I’ve tried to watch this three times and I never make it all the way through without opening another browser tab and trying to find out if the suicide booths from Futurama are a real thing yet.

You might think we are overly critical of our friends at The Drum, but it’s not actually true. We call them out because 1 – they’re about the most well-known digital marketing publication in the UK, and 2 – they’re a publication that novice marketeers look to for advice and ideas. We actually want to read and watch things that are genuinely interesting or provocative about our industry. This is a legitimate magazine, with an established brand, and the resources and clout to do something really interesting. But they just refuse to. Why?

And “why” is exactly the point.

Unless you have an actual purpose for content, don’t create it. Before you smear another layer of nothing onto the already over-greased internet, ask:

  • Is this creative expression?
  • Is this useful or valuable to someone?
  • Does this answer a question or solve a problem?

If you can’t answer “yes” to any of those things, don’t make the content. Also, watch this:

Note: This post originally appeared on the Habanero Digital blog meaning certain parts are probably weirdly self referential or talk about ongoing feuds that probably exist almost exclusively in the mind of the author.

Content Marketing

by Swanchita Haze

The true identity of Swanchita is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. We receive her blog submissions written by hand using ink on parchment, delivered by a small Dickensian orphan boy.

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