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Remember when “content marketing” was the buzzword of the day? You literally couldn’t walk into a digital marketing meeting without someone bringing up the term. And, at one point, it seemed like all major brands were turning into publishers, churning out digital content at a prodigious pace. So what happened? Today, most of the buzz surrounding “content marketing” seems to have dissipated, as digital marketers search out the Next New Thing.
Content vs. distribution
At the end of the day, there is always going to be a struggle between “content” and “distribution.” Content wants to be king, but so does distribution. So it might just be the case that the whole content marketing trend reflected the fact that content was king for a very long time. Now that content is losing its buzz, it could be the case that digital marketers will now shift their focus to distribution.
Think about it this way: there is only a limited amount of content that any brand can create, no matter how many digital marketing agencies they hire. So it makes sense to focus on the platforms (i.e. distribution channels) where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. If you’re a small- to mid-size business, for example, it might make the most sense to focus on Twitter and Instagram, without spreading yourself too thin by embracing every possible social media platform.
As part of the whole “content marketing” philosophy, brands were essentially creating content for the sake of content. Even if they didn’t particularly have anything important to say, they were still churning out YouTube videos, Instagram Stories, podcasts and all types of short-form content. They were developing massive content calendars in which they planned out and scheduled social media content for weeks at a time.
And, in some cases, they were employing so-called “content farms” to generate all sorts of low-quality content, simply to trick the search algorithms to gain some extra traffic. If, for example, brands knew that people were searching for “What time is the Super Bowl?” on Google, they would generate a really short snippet of content telling people when and where to watch the Super Bowl, while also including a brief brand message (i.e. “Don’t forget to buy our nacho chips before watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 2, 2020”).
Content marketing, under another name
So it’s perhaps unfair to say that “content marketing” is disappearing. More likely, it’s simply being reinvented and re-thought to reflect the fact that brands need to be a lot more focused about the type of content they create. It can be exhausting to think about creating content for every possible platform, every possible device, and every possible channel – especially when brands are told over and over again that they can’t simply repurpose the same content for a variety of different platforms.
For brands of all sizes, it’s time to figure out where they are getting the biggest bang for their buck. That means re-thinking distribution first, and focusing on those social media platforms where they have a competitive advantage, or where they have the available resources to create valuable, compelling content rather than just “content for the sake of content.”