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The Content Quality Problem Here and There

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Image by kopper.

More brands and people continue filling the channels with their blogs, infographics, white paper, etc. As a result, we’re experiencing a deluge of content, most of it suffering from over-messaged, self-important corporate sales talk, or worse, shoddy workmanship.

There’s no better example of this issue than our own marketing space where the effort to produce consistent content creates an ever increasing level of drivel. In fact, there’s so much “me, too” content, getting beyond a headline skim requires some real shake-up in the social media marketplace or a dramatic post.

When readers find themselves inundated with ever increasing quantities of the same, creators find themselves producing content with diminishing value. The situation devolves to the point where content becomes spam.

We all know what happens to spam. It doesn’t get read, it’s unsubscribed from, deleted, and relegated to the annals of digital indexing somewhere deep in Google.

Commit to Excellence

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Last week, I had the opportunity to watch Vocus interviews with Seth Godin and Jay Rosen. Both the ultimate marketer and journalist made remarks about content quality issues.

There’s only one answer to the content quality problem. The market needs to move away from frequency and form as the primary focus, and return to delivering substantive insights that are differentiated and valuable.

Differentiation includes more depth and passion to provide greater insights. It means committing to our craft to deliver high quality content that stands out in both the standards of information and presentation. Consider tearing down existing form factors, and rebuilding to develop new approaches and ways to excel. Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi calls this epic content marketing.

In all cases the ultimate rudder has to be value for external stakeholders. If we don’t give people special content, they won’t be compelled to share it en masse or return for more.

People remark that every company and content creator (blogger) is now a media company. In consideration, we should look at the compass and determine whether or not success is possible by mimicking media production quantities.

The Content Problem Here

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Sometimes you need to focus on the small picture.

After SxSW, I tipped my hat and said I would explore some new content approaches here. Partly, I’m motivated to enjoy writing again. I have also been quietly preparing you for the possible release of significant project later this year. The project has nothing to do with social media and marketing as topics.

As time progressed, essays and deeper non-standard insights into Internet culture provided more excitement, while marketing posts waned in interest.

This speaks to where my passion is as well as to the glut of marketing blogs out there delivering the 78 ways you can crowdsource toe cheese (a joke, albeit a gross one). It also reflects the amount of time invested in an essay, usually three or four days, which leaves little room for error. Prior to the essays, I’d usually write six posts a week, and choose from the best.

The end result is a lopsided content presentation, with essays and some posts meeting the standard, and others serving as quota fillers.

Last weekend I received some critical feedback on my private project. I am committing to release it this year at some point after the summer. In order to bring the project to fruition, some writing time is required. Kid, work, blogging/writing, in that order. Something has to give, and right now, quality is suffering.

It’s time to eat my own dog food, and reduce frequency to three posts a week starting next week.

When I blog about marketing it will be because I truly believe the post adds a valuable discussion point as opposed to needing to publish Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Wednesday slot will be sacrificed to other voices more hungry and interested in becoming everyday thought leaders.

And I will continue migrating beyond tactical and strategic marketing posts. After seven years (my blogoversary was April 23, uncelebrated this year), I owe it to myself to 1) write about what matters to me, and to deliver a good lead up to the project release. That way you receive thought provoking content that’s well developed, no one is caught off guard, and the project has the best opportunity for success.

So there you have it. Eating Alpo.

What do you think about the content quality problem. Also, are you liking the content evolution here?

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  • http://www.writingforseo.org/ David Rosam

    For me, this is the result of people taking the lazy way out and blindly bleating ‘Content is King’.

    No it isn’t! Without a strategy and an understanding of what we are trying to achieve, Content is an Indulgence.

    Quantity does not equal Quality.

    • geofflivingston

      I have to agree. I actually find myself unsubscribing from more and more bloggers and outlets that can’t deliver a decent post time and time out. If every other or more than every other post is junk, then I feel like I am being made to suffer for a search strategy.

  • Randy Bowden

    Not only is quality slipping but the churn of the content is stifling. Wishing you great succes and encouragement on the project and anticipating the evolution.

    • geofflivingston

      Thanks, man. Following my heart on this one.

  • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

    great approach. taking ourselves out of the content rat race allows the view from above to become more clear, which can offer deeper insight and more meaningful conversations (not that your blog is ever anything but that!). looking forward to seeing this evolve.

    • geofflivingston

      Our conversation helped me with this a bit. I do appreciate your insights and thank you!

      • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

        my pleasure!

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    Completely with you on this. I let my blogging slip to one post every one or even two (!) months, and in the end, I felt comfortable with the decision, as I knew that I wasn’t writing just to write, but because I had something worthy to share. Looking forward to reading more of what your heart (not your head) tells you to write, @geofflivingston:disqus

    • geofflivingston

      Man, if I had a real job, I’d only be writing essays and fiction. I’m envious. It’s the devilish dirty work of being the marketing consultant, I feel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zuccaro Joseph Zuccaro

    Good points, Geoff. I think in the B2C world there has a been a rush to flood all the various channels with content that wasn’t thought out. The B2B world is a little different in that there much overhyped fluff spewing out, but more sophisticated B2B marketers understand you really need to address buyers based on their phase in the buying cycle. Content marketing requires strategy and tactics and therefore the right content must be created and delivered at the right time with the right message to the right people in the right format. If you’re just spewing out content, you’re spinning your wheels…

    • geofflivingston

      I would agree with you that smart marketers in general understand that they need to invest in positive equity with clients/customers. And every touch should be geared that way.

      I also agree on the wheels spinning. It’s like throwing paint on the wall and hoping something sticks.

  • Susan Cellura

    Way to go, Geoff! You always have good insights and I look forward to enjoying the benefits of your new approach.

    • geofflivingston

      Thanks, Susan. Hopefully, it is beneficial.

  • jeffachen

    Great insight Geoff. We need to commit to quality content and be purposeful, concise and interesting. Remember, the quality of our content shapes our online reputation.

    • geofflivingston

      It never pays to be sloppy or mail it in. That’s for sure.

      • http://www.onemanandhisblog.com Adam Tinworth

        It’s the tyranny of the content calendar at work – you _must_ have something up at a set time – even if you have nothing substantive to say. Horrible concept.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MorganCreativeServices Clay Morgan

    Companies need to move in the direction of unique quality over quantity. Even at the newspaper where I’m publisher, we are focusing more on high-quality, local content delivered on a variety of platforms.

    A great example of the value of quality content is Politico, which launched Politico Pro a couple years back. Politico Pro provides high quality content focused on policy, and people value it enough to pay for it.

    I think that is the question – whether you charge for it or not, is this content valuable enough to pay for? If the answer is no, I’d argue that you must rethink it.

    • geofflivingston

      This is an interesting barometer, especially given that most content is free. One I like is would this post or a pretty close variant of it be worthy of publishing in a top-tier masthead in the subject area? If yes, then we are on.

  • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

    I kind of hate that your project is top secret for a while longer.

    I do like the content evolution. I think I probably visit more now than I used to.

    And, yes, there is a content quality problem. I think we see it everywhere from LinkedIn endorsements to same-old, same-old blog posts.

    • geofflivingston

      Well, it’s no secret to you!!! LOL. I think timing is everything, and I have a former colleague who has a major release coming out that I want to be mindful of and not trump. Plus, marketing well is important.

      Thank you for the compliments!!!

      • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

        I agree. It’s good to think about others and to market well. It’s just hard not to get excited.

  • http://twitter.com/Spafloating Pamela Morse

    AHHHHHHH, but the tight close up says you are in focus….love that pink!!!! I am flying away from all the blooming trees, and already miss them…

    • geofflivingston

      Well, I need to get in focus at least! Me, too, it’s been a beautiful Spring!

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  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    I LOVE the content evolution here. You always wrote thought-provoking pieces but more recently, I feel they are more… you. Maybe it’s because you and I have been getting to know each other better? In which case it’s just a projection of my feelings, LOL! But I think there is something different, something that has a stronger pull than some of your earlier content.

    • geofflivingston

      Thanks. It’s nice to finally write what I want to write, rather than market. It makes a world of difference.

      And I love getting to know you better. You are an awesome colleague.

  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    I love what you write. I love how you write. Your enjoyment shows. And that’s not dog food. Cheers! Kaarina

    • geofflivingston

      Hopefully it’s steak and ribs and… Hmm. I’m hungry!

      Thank you, friend.

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  • http://gearboxmagazine.com/ Brian Driggs

    A few years ago, you would have found me prattling on and on about the importance of social media this and engagement that. These things are still important, but lately I’ve found myself growing less and less interested in what’s become a big, illiterate echo chamber of race-to-the-bottom mediocrity.

    I know it might seem Utopian, but as much as I’d love to do what I do full time and make a comfortable living at it, my first priority is doing the work and making a difference in peoples’ lives. If I can do that, if I can help the people who mean the most to me build high performance machines and lives, the money will follow.

    Anything else is rent-seeking and pie-slicing, imo.

    Never give up, Geoff. Press on regardless.

    • geofflivingston

      Thank you, sir. I do like apple pie, though, if I do say so myself. LOL! I agree. Impact matters most. By far. I often remind myself if I can help others succeed, then I have done my job.

      • http://gearboxmagazine.com/ Brian Driggs

        Absolutely. Pie is fantastic, but how much time is spent these days trying to carve up ever-smaller slices of the existing pie (pie-slicing), versus making the pie larger (pie-sizing)? Nah’mean?

        True success is a function of helping others achieve success for themselves. (Especially when helping them achieve success for themselves by helping still others to be successful)!

        Always a pleasure, sir.

  • http://twitter.com/ThePRCoach Jeff Domansky PR

    Geoff, been thinking about your post for a week. You certainly identified the elephant (cobra, lemur, unicorn) in the content marketing room. It’s getting harder every day to find the quality we deserve. The prize is there when we shift like you. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • marc zazeela

    Geoff,

    Does too much available space lead to too much content which leads to too little quality material which leads to boring garbage?

    Perhaps it is a case of less is more? Just because you have a blog does it mean that you HAVE to post something every day/week/month regardless whether you have anything worth saying? Some of the stuff I read seems so forced and repetitive.

    It is kind of like when you were in high school and had to write a 500 words essay. You would use every bit of filler you could just to take up the available space.

    Cheers,
    Marc

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