Scary office hallway

Content Reveals What’s Going on Behind Closed Doors at the Brand

Every day I scour the topical feeds I’ve set up in Flipboard and Feedly. This is in addition to what I come across on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I occasionally check Instagram but have found it to largely be a repeat of my Facebook feed. And I’ll glance over at Snapchat, but almost exclusively to see what wacky filter my daughter has used. I do check YouTube, but usually leave scratching my head at why the platform thinks I’d like what they’re putting in front of me.

That’s pretty much my digital content world. Okay, I’m lying. There’s also Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the free books I check out using Hoopla (as long as Walking Dead and Batman graphic novels count as books).

But if there are two things I’ve learned from my business news and thought leadership content consumption, it’s a) there’s no shortage of content, not in the slightest, and b) I find the vast majority of that content so uninteresting I’ve started wondering if there’s something wrong with me.

It’s increasingly not ready for prime time; grammatically incorrect, filled with broken sentences, with multiple misspellings the norm vs. the occasional error. For a content guy, I’m truly not anal about such things. I make mistakes all over the place. But the level of this has grown noticeably, with an apparent tacit resignation to it. These are people asking businesses to trust them with tens of thousands of dollars or more in revenue critical operations.

Thought Leadership from behind

It’s content for the sake of saying content got made. When I did daily radio shows, not every one of them was Peabody Award-worthy, but we prepped like each one was do-or-die. People get fired fast in radio, so it kinda was. A great deal of content seems aimed at the most elementary of entry-level readers on the given subject, with broadly obvious statements, no invested or bold opinion, nothing particularly challenging or thought-provoking or actionable. It’s “thought leadership” from behind.

The content space is becoming an eye-glazing wall of repetitiveness. “How 15 Things You’re Doing Wrong Before Breakfast Makes You Not Game of Thrones-Worthy in a Millennial’s Desired Workplace.” (Eye roll)

It’s as on-target as a balloon that’s been filled with air then released. I’ve very deliberately told the platforms what I’d like to see. I’ve given up my data. I’ve very deliberately signed up for the email lists of things I’m interested in. What I get is something entirely different. It’s rarely what I want or need, but regularly what the content distributor wishes I cared about. There’s little doubt who it was made for, somebody’s Director or VP.

When I do get a piece of content I’m interested in, that speaks to what I’m involved with, that’s presented in an entertaining and informative way, that makes me smarter or gives me a path to pursue, I reward that content by leaning in…heavily. I’m one of those dorks who will highlight the daylights out of something and save the notes. I’ll be so freaking grateful for quality content I happily spread it on LinkedIn, with comments proving I actually read or watched it. (There’s a LOT of sharing of unread content going on, just to kiss an influencer’s ass or for self-branding. You’re going to get busted one day.)

It’s fake it ’til you make it

What I see in brand content and communications on the front end crystallizes for me what’s probably going on in the back end. Content chaos. No one really in charge. No serious executive buy-in for content. No high-functioning internal organization. Definitely no content strategy. No quality go-to content production resources. A wait-and-see stance. An infinity loop of internal debate over what the approach to content should be. All while content that adds to the noise is rushed and pushed out the door out of obligation. It’s fake it ‘til you make it.

The problem is, that content is out there for your prospects to see. And your audience might not be as fooled as you’d like to think.

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