6 Reasons Great Content Fails

by Pamela Vaughan

Date

November 10, 2011 at 4:30 PM

parking lot failThat's right. Sometimes truly great content flops. And to be honest, it's a big disappointment (and a damn shame). The silver lining is, there's usually a pretty good explanation for why that particular piece of content failed to spread, and understanding some of the top reasons why great content fails can put you on a righteous path that enables you to succeed with future pieces of great content.

And if anything positive can come from failure, it's a good lesson or two. We've come in contact with a few content failures in our experience as content creators, so we've nailed down 6 compelling reasons -- and lessons to learn from -- why great content fails.

1. The Topic Isn't Appropriately Targeted

When it comes to successful content, the topic/idea is everything. You can write the most amazing piece of content and make it the best it can be, but that doesn't mean it will be enough. One of the core reasons great content fails is because the topic was the wrong one. It could be "wrong" for a number of reasons. Maybe it's not a topic that is appropriately targeted toward the audience it's being presented to. Maybe it's targeted, but it's just not a topic your audience would necessarily think is interesting.

How to Avoid Failure: Spend the time to make sure the topic and idea has the potential to be successful. A major part of this is truly understanding your target audience and marketing personas, and analyzing the topics and ideas that have resonated with that audience in the past. Your analytics are your best friend here, so leverage them!

2. The Title or Headline is Crappy

A great piece of content hidden behind a crappy title or headline is just that -- hidden. The title of your content is a potential reader's first impression of that content, whether they find a link to your content in social media, search results, or via email. If you're headline isn't enticing enough to get that reader to click on and view your content, it's doomed to fail.

How to Avoid Failure: Put some solid effort into learning how to write awesome titles for your content. A great headline is actionable, brief, keyword-conscious, clear, definitive, and intriguing. Master the art of exceptional blog titles, and you'll be one step closer to preventing content failure.

3. There Is No Attention to Detail

The topic of your content, the ideas you present, and the way in which you present them may all be top-notch, but it's amazing how simple details like spelling and grammar can easily ruin an otherwise amazing piece of content. Don't undermine the importance of paying attention to these types of details when pulling together a final draft of your content.

How to Avoid Failure: Always, I repeat, ALWAYS have a colleague or teammate (preferably one who has an eye for details) proofread and edit your work. It's stupidly silly to let a great piece of content go to waste because of a few easily preventable typos.

4. It Isn't Promoted

Trust a recovering content marketer --if you build it, that doesn't necessarily mean they will come. Without any promotion, your awesome content is basically stuck on an island. And the only thing it will have to keep it company is the other lonesome content on your blog or website. Don't fall victim to the common assumption that great content will just naturally get stumbled across. In order for great content to be truly successful, it needs a little help.

How to Avoid Failure: Get your content out there, for goodness' sake! Send that awesome new ebook you wrote to your email database, and share your latest blog article with your fans and followers in social media!

5. It's Not Socially Enabled

Successful content isn't just proactively promoted by its author. It's also promoted by readers who love the content and want to share it with their networks. Successful content makes it easy for readers and viewers to share in the first place by offering social media sharing buttons in obvious places.

How to Avoid Failure: Add social media sharing links/buttons to every piece of content you produce in obvious places. People are lazy. Make it mind-numbingly simple for them to share if they want to. Chances are, if you put the buttons right in front of them, they'll use them, giving your content more exposure to potentially interested content consumers. Research shows that including a Twitter share button on your content leads to 7x more mentions!

6. It's Not Optimized for Search

One of the best ways to generate organic visibility for your content is to make sure it's optimized for search. Your prospects are looking for and finding content via search. If your content isn't optimized well enough to show up in their search results, it's not going to get found there. Without proper search engine optimization, your content is at great risk of failure. 

How to Avoid Failure: Conduct keyword research to identify appropriate keywords for your business. Then search engine optimize your content by sprinkling those keywords throughout -- in page titles, header tags, and throughout the body of your content.

What are some other reasons great content fails to spread?

Image Credit: Kevin Jarrett

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