I absolutely realize I’m a stick in the mud, here.
But more and more, I’m finding that I don’t fit the aesthetic of the outstanding “content marketer”, whatever that means.
For example, more and more blogs – including typically excellent ones – are using the whole “tweet this” thingie in the midst of their posts so you can quote a bit of their brilliant prose (a bit that they’ve determined is ‘tweetable’) and post it on Twitter.
An increasing amount of material, from posts to presentations, seems to be more concerned with being ‘sound bite’ worthy than being substantive. We want people to post and share and spread our stuff around, so some of the content gets watered down to the least common denominator and everything ends up being a collection of the same 12 points, repackaged to suit the personality of the presenter but most assuredly designed to spread.
Sometimes, I’m pretty sure we’re designing content to spread instead of to educate, inform, or teach.
Entertainment is a worthy goal of content, sure. But I feel like we’re lowering our standards to the point where what we’re saying is becoming homogenized, and the only distinction is how clever we can be while saying it.
That just feels so….icky…to me. And frustrating, because I think great content serves an amazing purpose in the world of empowered, informed people that are the fabric of today’s workforce, our customers, our clients, and the partners we hope to work with someday.
As for me, I’m such a shitty self-promoter it’s not even funny. I have probably sacrificed a good bit of business over the years because I suck at pimping my own work, and there’s this weird line where I feel like I’m playing to the game instead of focusing on my purpose. I can’t draw it in the sand. It’s like pornography. You know it when you see it. Or at least, I do.
I feel it when I’m trying too hard. I don’t want to be a “content marketer”. I want to be a successful business owner. I believe content plays a role in getting me there, but my goal isn’t to get retweeted a hundred times when I give a MasterClass on social business. My goal is to have someone walk out of the room and go kick ass at their job tomorrow, armed with all kinds of ideas and perspective they didn’t have before I got there. The tweets are great, but not if I’ve totally swung and missed when delivering the real value to my clients.
Is this train of thought weird? Especially with the hype around all things content? Are content excellence and sound-bite success mutually exclusive?
I know there are millions of ways to skin the proverbial cat, so perhaps not.
But man, while I once felt like social embodied the spirit of so much of what was wrong with marketing and promotion, it’s adapted itself to the same old mold in so many ways, with clever promotion in a web-savvy “content” wrapper that lacks substance in the quest to be everything to everyone and to get one more pin or share or download or buffer or whatever.
I know I’m generalizing. I’m sure there are lots of exceptions. But it’s something I’m furiously wrestling with these days.
I still believe that social is an incredible catalyst. Hell, I built a business on that potential. The ability to share, provide commentary, and shape the experiences around you is immensely powerful and will still compel lots of changes to the way businesses operate, the way people work, and how we continue to communicate with each other. Those shifting expectations are where the meat of the evolution sits, and I have some pretty big bets on that truth.
But there’s a breaking point somewhere when we’ve sold out, when we’ve taken our eye off the real prize and settled for cheap thrills and short-term attention instead of the investment in the long, perhaps less-glamorous-and-fewer-like-buttons game.
It’s probably different for everyone, but I’m sure feeling it around me. That elusive balance between staying visible, staying relevant, and yet staying grounded.
Are you feeling it too?