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The Hard Fact about Content Marketing: Shares Aren’t Everything!

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We’ve been told that shares determine the strength of your content and the viability of your campaign. It makes sense. If people are sharing your posts, then your posts must be good. You must be getting huge amounts of traffic to your website.

That’s not always the case!

Exaggerating the importance of shares and not looking elsewhere are mistakes many content and social media marketers make.

Your post can have five thousand shares, while your competitor has only five hundred. But you look at inbound traffic. Surprise! Your competition has more clicks and naturally more conversion. There are reasons why people stop at sharing your content. They don’t bother going to your website. They just pass your post around, and that’s all there is to it, social media engagement.

Content marketing is getting harder!

Why? More companies are jostling each other. The competition is getting stiffer by the minute as more businesses are trying to get a piece of the market. Consequently, more content is being produced. The article you wrote needs more work to get to your audience than ever before. We know this through experience.

When marketers have been publishing eight times more content than ever before, but engagement has declined by nearly 90%, you know something is amiss. We know top B2B sites half of whose content has fewer than 100 shares. Many others have content with less than 20 shares.

We have no data that explains why such a case occurs, but we surmise it’s due to growth in content volume. More pieces are competing for attention. For instance, on WordPress alone, 70 million posts are produced each month. Each of those posts struggles to get attention and engagement. The work that needs to be done for each of those to be at least seen on the first pages of SERPs has gotten more difficult.


Why your content failed

Bad content could be one thing. But even the most well written content may not see the light for two chief reasons:

  1. failure to write the right content
  2. failure to promote your content

A great piece isn’t everything. That’s where we draw the line between a writer and a marketer. You may be a writer. You may write web content too well, but your blog or website isn’t seeing any traffic.

A high quality content may not be right for your brand, audience, or campaign. It may be ignored by potential advocates and influencers. Let’s take for example influencer marketing. Much of it relies on good content generation practices — as well as ideal social media marketing tactics. Potential influencers may pass up a nicely written post for a number of reason. It’s not relevant to them. Its message doesn’t resonate in them. Or they don’t think it’s worth sharing with their own audience.

Writing to and for your audience and potential advocates and ambassadors entails knowing what they want to read. That requires observation and monitoring of data and trends. You have to do your homework.

Failure to promote your content is just as bad as writing an irrelevant message. Content marketing is a multifaceted strategy. Unfortunately, social sharing, while an important aspect of promoting new articles or blogs, is insufficient on its own. That’s what inexperienced bloggers or marketers disregard. They ignore crucial factors that limit the success of social sharing.

  1. Only a fraction of the sharers actually click the link.
  2. Many of them don’t even read what they’re sharing.
  3. Shared posts have brief shelf lives.
  4. Sharing itself has a generally short peak period.

Many people only share posts without actually clicking the link and reading the articles. These people act as transmitters, not consumers, of content. Your leverage is limited to social sharing. They mostly have small networks and their posts go ignored. Hence, for the most part, you get no real value from their activity.

Take note of numbers 3 and 4, however. These crucial truths about virtually all social media posts are often overlooked. Depending on the engagement of a social media post, its shelf life may range from an hour to a few days. Even viral posts don’t survive too long before finally resting in oblivion. Eventually, sharing declines and the post becomes a cyber fossil.

The role of influencers

We advocate influencer marketing because its effectiveness has been proven by data. But that doesn’t mean it can’t fail. The truth is, even the best influencer marketing tactics can fail. That’s the undeniable irony. Even the most popular and viable influencer may not generate substantial shares. But you can’t nix influencers altogether. The secret is in choosing influencers based on follower engagement, not on following size.

Making sure your content matters

At the end of the day it’s worth noting what makes content work for you. Without complicating matters, it’s not hard to return to the basics.

  1. Write not only informative but also unique and fun content.
  2. Use content to build relationships, not just build your brand.
  3. Write to and for your audience. Let them know you care, and they’ll care about you.
  4. Build authority by regularly producing helpful pieces of advice, tips, and how-to guides.
  5. Write digestible pieces. Your audience are not experts.
  6. Write evergreen pieces that remain relevant for a long time.
  7. Explore trends.
  8. Build content around facts and data.
  9. Share your experience.
  10. Share your customers’ experiences.