By Ann Gynn published August 14, 2018

31 Cringeworthy Content Marketing Things That Should Die

31-cringeworthy-content-marketing-thingsIf you could pick one thing in content marketing you want to go away today, what would it be? What about the one thing you expect to be going strong in 12 months?

That’s what we asked Content Marketing World presenters. Not surprisingly, they had a lot to say. Their responses are diverse and sometimes conflicting. Chatbots, webinars, livestreaming, GIFs, influencers, ROI, and many other topics are on the list. But should they die or expect to be strong? Read on to discover.

(Note: While we use “expect to be strong” as the label, some of the comments reflect things already going strong that are expected to stay that way a year from now.)

Jason Schemmel, social media manager, Harper Collins Christian Publishing

Wish would die: The term “best practices.” All that means is, “This is what has worked for us.” Too many people take that info and think, “If I do it exactly like they did, I’ll see the same success.” It’s a shortcut state of mind.

Expect to be strong: Short videos (30 seconds or less) with captions.

Let the term “best practices” die. It’s a shortcut state of mind. @JasonSchemmel #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ahava Leibtag, president, Aha Media Group

Wish would die: Long-form video content that isn’t broken into bite-size chunks.

Expect to be strong: Instagram Stories will be a hit for a long time. Marketers need to get smarter right now about how to leverage them.

Marketers need to get smarter now about how to leverage @Instagram Stories. @ahaval #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ben H. Rome, manager, marketing, American Industrial Hygiene Association

Wish would die: Stop calling it JIF, people. It’s GIF – with a hard G!

Expect to be strong: Epic marketing trolling war will continue.

Stop calling it JIF. It’s GIF – with a hard G. @bhrome #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ian Cleary, CEO, RazorSocial

Wish would die: Livestreaming of content that is not interesting. People are livestreaming because it’s a trend, not because they have a good business strategy behind it.

Livestreaming is a trend, but most of the content is not interesting. @iancleary. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Karl Sakas, agency advisor, Sakas & Company

Wish would die: Sleazy webinar promotion. I’d love to see the end of overpromising educational webinar content and then delivering thinly veiled sales pitches. Bait and switch is never a good strategy.

Expect to be strong: Podcasting, audio content, and audio marketing

Let sleazy webinar promotions end. Stop overpromising education for a thinly veiled sales pitch. @KarlSakas Click To Tweet

Stephan Spencer, co-author, The Art of SEO

Wish would die: Explainer videos made to go “viral” without any understanding of who the target audience should be. (Hint: Most of the time it shouldn’t be your customers, it should be the “linkerati.”)

ShipServe Software had a cute explainer video made using stop-motion photography and Lego blocks. Unfortunately, the only people who would be remotely interested in that video were customers and not the linkerati.

Ironically, that video was even recognized by CMI for excellence. But as an SEO expert, I looked at it with a different lens.

Dollar Shave Club, on the other hand, killed it with its explainer video. It doesn’t matter if you never will need to shave in your life; you’ll probably get a chuckle out of it and you’ll be inspired to link to it and probably even embed it on your blog.

Expect to be strong: Repurposing or repackaging of old but successful content marketing campaigns is a big one. For example, a successful listicle can be repurposed into an infographic, video, SlideShare deck, slideshow, a quiz or personality test, a series of scenic images with quotes for social media, and more.

Quit doing explainer #videos that don’t target the linkerati. @sspencer #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tim Hayden, president and co-managing partner, Brain + Trust Partners

Wish would die: GIFs and auto-play video.

Expect to be strong: Thanks to GDPR and so many brands aligning data/customer records to deliver personalized content, AI and machine-learning will finally take over so much of what human marketers manage today.

Let’s stop using GIFs and auto-play video. @thetimhayden #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Andrea Fryrear, president and lead trainer, AgileSherpas

Wish would die: Chatbots. They’re popping up in all kinds of places where they don’t belong. (No, I don’t need any help navigating your blog. If I do, it’s probably something your UX folks should be looking into.)

Expect to be strong: For bite-sized things and on-the-go learning you can’t beat video and audio. Multimedia is the future, and content marketers should get comfortable atomizing ideas so they are easily consumed in all these formats.

Chatbots are popping up in a lot of wrong places. @AndreaFryrear #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Margaret Magnarelli, vice president, marketing, Monster

Wish would die: The hype around AI in marketing. There’s a role for it (e.g., machine-generated standardized blurbs on your website pulling from APIs), but if we want to connect with customers, we need to employ as much of a human touch as we can.

To connect w/ customers, you should employ as much of a human touch as possible. @mmagnarelli. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Nicole Martin, vice president, strategy and analytics, Pace

Expect to be strong: Segmentation. It is vital for building a connection with consumers, so big data, the collection of data, and incorporation of robust CRMs into your marketing tool set is important.

Segmentation through data is vital to building a connection with consumers. @StrategySavvy. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Zontee Hou, senior strategist, Convince and Convert

Wish would die: Brands chasing after big social media followings. It’s 2018. We know better. You have to build the right audience that is highly valuable to your brand, not just aggregate “likes” for the sake of a big number.

Expect to be strong: Content displayed in a responsive way. We are only now getting better at serving up unique customer experiences on the content side based on past browsing behavior (which is, of course, something that’s been happening on the retail side for years).

It’s 2018. Brand goals shouldn’t be big #socialmedia following. Build the right audience. @zontee_hou #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement, North Coast Media

Wish would die: Unlabeled social media posts on publisher accounts that have clearly been bought and paid for by their marketing partners. Some of these are publishers big enough to know better. Now that Twitter gives you 280 characters, there’s no excuse for forgoing the #ad or #sponsored label. Respect is something you can only earn from your audience when you operate with full transparency about where your content originates.

Expect to be strong: Lead generation. It’s a privilege earned by sharing high-quality content and building a strong relationship with your customer or prospect.

There’s no excuse for forgoing the #ad or #sponsored label for paid mentions. @writegirl1215 #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Joakim Ditlev, founder, Content Marketing DK

Wish would die: Clickbait. If I were the sheriff of the internet, I would ban it. Anyone guilty of issuing clickbait headlines would instantly have their broadband connections replaced by a 56K modem.

Expect to be strong: The ability to educate in your areas of expertise and to build content clusters of quality niche content related to your business will still be a win.

If I were sheriff of the internet, I would ban clickbait. @jditlev. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ron Tite, founder and CEO, Church+State

Wish would die: Every single article that starts, “The 7 Things …”
Expect to be strong: More podcasts, please.

I wish every single article that starts, “The 7 Things …,” would die. @rontite #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jay Acunzo, founder, Unthinkable Media

Wish would die: Predicting trends or declaring “2018 is The Year Of X”? Seriously, who remembers what 2017 was the “year of”? And who cares what trends are declared hot or old? We ought to spend less time obsessing over the industry’s flavors of the week and reinvest that time in focusing on the details of our specific situations. Being self- and situationally aware is far more powerful than being aware of all the trends of the day. I want trend spotting and predictions to die so we can all go back to doing the actual work.

If trend spotting and predictions die, we can go back to doing actual work. @jayacunzo. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Nichole Kelly, chief consciousness officer, The Conscious Marketing Institute

Wish would die (well, evolve): I wish storytelling using heroes, villains, and victims would evolve into a more conscious story about self-discovery and unlocking humanity’s harmonious potential.

Expect to be strong: More video – live and pre-recorded … everything from ads to podcasts.

#Storytelling should evolve into a conscious unlocking of humanity’s harmonious potential. @Nichole_Kelly Click To Tweet

Mark Masters, owner, The ID Group

Wish would die: We can stop banging on about purpose. Purpose is to what storytelling was to 2017. We do not live in an altruistic world, where we hope to shape a better planet. If what we believe in aligns with what we sell, then that makes the world a more digestible place.
Expect to be strong: Companies building a narrative that they truly believe in and building the best barbecue that people want to stick around and enjoy being a part of.

Stop banging on purpose in #storytelling. We do not live in an altruistic world. @markiemasters #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group

Wish would die: I wish people would stop saying we need less content. That’s a lie at worst and an unproven myth at best. Commit to answer your customers’ questions as often as you can and you will become an authority based on your authentic expertise.

Expect to be strong: Content will continue to strive towards being more human, more visual, and more personalized.

Stop saying we need less #content. That’s a lie at worst & an unproven myth at best. @BrennerMichael Click To Tweet

Andrew Davis, CEO, Monumental Shift

Wish would die: I wish content marketers would stop creating terrible case studies, claiming they’re stories.

Expect to be strong: I hope more content marketers treat their case studies like television shows or feature films and create tension or suspense to keep their stories compelling.

Treat case studies like TV shows or feature films. Create tension or suspense. @drewdavishere. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Leslie Carruthers, president and owner, The Search Guru Inc.

Wish would die: Writing for the sake of having more content on your website should definitely go away.

Expect to be strong: Content based on research.

Writing for the sake of having more #content on your website should go away. @thesearchguru #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jeff Julian, CEO, Squared Digital

Wish would die: Influencer lists … Influencer lists

What do I wish would die in #contentmarketing? Influencer lists. @jjulian #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso

Wish would die: Tagging of multiple (and sometimes non-relevant) influencers in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts dies a quick and hard death.

End the practice of tagging multiple influencers in #socialmedia posts. @LinkedInExpert #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Eli Schwartz, director of organic product, SurveyMonkey

Wish would die: Resurgence in fake influencer campaigns to generate SEO links. We need to go back to a world where websites once again try to earn links legitimately.

Expect to be strong: A complementary tactic to this kind of legitimate link-building is guest posting on authoritative sites. While some notable sites like Huffington Post have discontinued general contributions, I think the prevalence of sites built of content created for SEO will continue to exist.

We need to go back to a world where websites try to earn links legitimately. @5le #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Andy Crestodina, co-founder, CMO, Orbit Media

Wish would die: Cold outreach emails, especially form submission spam. It’s so noisy. I can’t believe people still do it. Does this work for anyone?

Expect to be strong: Influencer marketing, paid promotion, and social video

I can’t believe people still send cold outreach emails. Does this work for anyone? @crestodina #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Buddy Scalera, content strategist, BuddyScalera.com

Wish would die: Too many email newsletters. Too many seem slapped together simply for marketing purposes. If you’re going to create a newsletter, it needs to be worth the space in my inbox.

There are too many #email newsletters slapped together simply for marketing purposes. @BuddyScalera #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amanda Changuris, associate director of corporate communications, BNY Mellon

Wish would die: Artificial paid influencer engagements. When it’s genuine and there’s a relationship between an influencer and a company it can be a beautiful thing; when it’s superficial it feels gross.

Artificial paid #influencer engagements are superficial and gross. @AmandaChanguris #CMWorld Click To Tweet

J.P. Medved, content director, Capterra

Wish would die: Walled gardens. Tools like Medium and Facebook publishing offer a great new discovery engine and built-in audience for your content, but it hurts the content ecosystem as a whole and content producers individually to entrust so much of your content, audience, and effort to third parties.

Walled gardens hurt the #content ecosystem and individual content producers. @rizzleJPizzle. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Chuck Hester, vice president, Marketing Lucidity Direct

Wish would die: Vanity metrics. “Likes” and follower emphasis.

Expect to stay strong: Video

I wish vanity metrics would die soon. @chuckhester #CMWorld Click To Tweet

John Hall, co-founder, Influence & Co.

Wish would die: Complaining about not seeing ROI in the short term. Most content marketing success is seen with a combination of qualitative and quantitative measurements in the long term with some smaller wins up front.

Expect to be strong: Combination of PR and influencer marketing in content marketing campaigns. People want to trust products and services so the more credibility you surround these campaigns with the more success you will see.

#Contentmarketing ROI success requires long-term view with small wins up front. @johnhall #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Peg Miller, head of content strategy, Xactly

Wish would die: The notion content marketing is somehow sacrosanct from having to produce business results. A faction of content marketers believe they are untouchable and unaccountable to the general business goals. This is like editors in the newspaper newsrooms who were unable to reinvent their skills and now are finding themselves without jobs. When you work in a business environment, you need to be able to show business results for your work. It is possible to maintain your quality standards, create value for your customers, and create value for your business.

#Contentmarketing is not sacrosanct from having to produce business results. @PegMiller #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amy Higgins, director of content marketing, Sojern

Wish would die: Gated forms. My head of demand gen will hate my answer, but your content should be educational and entertaining enough that the reader will want, no, need to give you their contact information after they engage with your content. Leave them wanting more, not asking for entry.

Gated forms should die. Engage readers so they want more & then ask for their info. @AmyWHiggins #CMWorld Click To Tweet

The End

And finally, here’s the one thing we probably can all agree on.

Jonathan Kranz, principal, Kranz Communications

Wish would die: My god, anything that has “viral” in it.

Anything in #contentmarketing with “viral” in it should die. @jonkranz. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Get your content marketing going (or staying) strong. Learn from these and other presenters at Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today and use code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

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