The One Content Mistake Most Marketers Make

Dasia Loutfrakhmanova Submitted by on the 26th of November 2015

Your brand is putting out quality content daily, yet it seems like nobody cares. Engagement is low, and your community only lights up when you hold a competition. What’s going wrong?

To find the answer, we have to consider this: You wouldn’t hit ‘like’ on the last billboard you saw, or subscribe to the last radio ad you heard blaring between songs.

This is the challenge of social media. Success is not only measured by how many eyeballs landed on your message, but by how many people find it valuable. When your content isn’t doing well and you don’t know why, simply ask yourself: are we giving value, or merely advertising it?

Linking to deals, announcing specials and educating the community on your offering does not necessarily add value to their lives. In the age of opting in to interacting with brands, those who are in the market for what you offer have every chance to seek you out. Unless you give them a reason to stay in your community, they’ll opt out as soon as they’ve gotten what they need.

When was the last time your social media updates provided intrinsic value to your audience? You’ve got to earn their attention, not just grab it in a desperate bid to be relevant in their lives. Give them a reason to stay.


“Someone who chooses to consume your content is a thousand times more valuable than someone who is forced to consume it.” – The Content Marketing Sacrifice

Make your updates intrinsically valuable, and people who opt in to your community will stick around. You don’t need me to tell you that brand loyalty means repeat purchases, and brand advocacy that shows up in word-of-mouth recommendations. Invest in your content, and you’ll see that ROI on the bottom line.

So what does intrinsically valuable content look like, anyway? It’s different for every brand, but a good start is to model your content on publishers in your industry. Look at the materials your audience is paying or opting in to consume (such as magazines and blogs) and let their style inspire your own efforts.

Look at industries parallel to yours, too. The fashion industry has plenty of experience styling imagery to make products look amazing. On paper, American brand Black Milk sells leggings and swimsuits. But on social media, they are a highly valued publisher. Their Instagram follower count rivals traditional publishers like Cosmopolitan (hovering around 1 million each), and they incorporate influencers and user generated content seamlessly with their own. Notice how even a simple update of “we have this swimsuit back in stock” provides value in itself, showcasing an editorial-style image that could grace a magazine cover.


The past few years have seen other industries catch onto the importance of making high quality, lifestyle-oriented content. While there isn’t much inherently sexy about a hardware store, Builders Warehouse has found an editorial approach on Instagram that showcases their product in an inherently valuable way.  


These products could have been showcased with a simple packshot repurposed from a flyer, but weaving them into a story creates an update that matters to far more people than just those in the market for a new trowel set.

This approach takes investment: it means styling hours, regular photoshoots, and creative brainstorming. You have to keep a close eye on the trends your community is connecting to. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

Cerebra’s e-book resources are a great example of how providing value for free (even if your customer might’ve paid for it) pays dividends. It means treating your audience as a community first, and as a customer base second. The gesture of being the first to offer value, much like arriving at a party with a bottle of wine, opens the door to a mutual exchange of value later in the relationship.

Offer your users intrinsic value and you will create an opted-in and engaged community. In a world where individuals can endlessly tailor what they’re exposed to, make sure your content makes the cut.

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