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The Content Marketing Fail, aka “the Twinkie Effect”

November 20th, 2010 · 9 Comments · All Posts, BillyMitchell

Creating fresh, valuable content for your company’s website not only improves your search rankings and gives your brand a voice, it also shows your customers, your prospects and your industry that you have something to say. And, more importantly, it shows you’re listening.

Content is king, long live the king. Digital content lives forever.

There is, however, a downside. I call it the “Twinkie Effect.”

We’ve all seen it: That blog on a company’s site that has been abandoned since 2008. March 10, 2008, is right there in print, along with the overly optimistic announcement about “our new blog.”

All dated and dormant content, from dusty blogs and press releases to obsolete industry news and old-fashioned site design is like a shelf of old Twinkies. Visitors can still consume it and won’t die, but it won’t do them any good either. And they won’t be back.

How many business sites have you been to where it feels like the door was left open and the lights are on, but no one is home? There’s a welcome mat, some pictures on the walls and books on the shelves, but no one’s there. So you hang for a moment to look around, and then you leave. They never knew you were there and, apparently, don’t care.

Maybe you find a business or individual representing that business through social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. The colorful lineup of logos for each might even be displayed on the site. “Friend us on Facebook,” “Follow us on Twitter.” Why? The most recent post was months ago, and you can tell they don’t listen, engage or follow back. And if it’s active, it’s sometimes just a stream of cheap treats or robotic repeats. It’s nothing but promotional junk food.

What are you serving on your site today? Are you offering helpful and creative content via social media and inbound links? Is your site full of content that attracts and holds a visitor’s interest? Are you converting that traffic to leads and passing those leads to sales? Are you listening and learning from others in your industry, including your customers? Are you sharing your knowledge and adding personality, passion and promise to your brand’s positioning? If you can’t honestly answer most of these questions with a yes on a regular basis, and invest the time to show it, you aren’t ready for content marketing.

If you can’t fill your site and your inbound social media with fresh and fulfilling content that is topical, relevant and as much for your visitor’s benefit as yours, it’s not a dynamic business site that attracts interest and converts leads. It’s just a shelf full of old Twinkies.

Billy Mitchell

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Tweets that mention The Content Marketing Fail, aka “the Twinkie Effect” | THE SOCIAL CMO Blog -- Topsy.com

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  • Clay Forsberg

    Billy, I was just thinking about this topic yesterday. In fact I posed the question on Twitter: “Would you follow yourself.” My point was – when should you not post anything rather than throwing up “old Twinkies?”

    I think everything starts from a central business strategy. What are you and your firm about? What makes you different? And what are you really offering people. Once you’ve figured that out, then tailor your content … all your content, even routine suspense phone calls, around this.

    You want to write the posts that your followers read. You want to make the calls they take. You don’t want want to be “the boy who cried wolf” of content marketing … throwing out so many Twinkies that when you actually have a piece of fillet – nobody will believe it.

    There’s no 11th Commandment that says, thou must post daily and Tweet every half hour.

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    Love it. So true and an important issue for all companies to watch! Thanks Billy!

  • Mike Ward

    Yes – great point about all of the social links that lead to deserted fan pages. Business owners need to move beyond the billboard and view their website, blog and social media outposts as extensions of their office where the public meets the company.

  • Doug Kessler – B2B Marketing

    Great metaphor!

    As a kid, I once kept a Twinkie for months to see if it would get hard enough so that I could write on the road with it. It never did. Those suckers are EMBALMED.

  • Billy Mitchell

    Mark,

    Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it and agree.

    Starting out with content marketing is maybe the easiest part. I thought it made sense to point out a negative result of not sticking with it. It takes a lot to make inbound marketing work and having a “content factory” in place and support from top management are two of the requirements. Persistence and patience are two more.

    (For anyone reading these comments that doesn’t already follow Mark’s blog, I highly recommend it. Almost everything I know about blogging, I either learned or try to copy from him. And I’m still learning… http://www.businessesgrow.com/blog/ )

    Mike,

    That’s a great way of looking at it. Too many companies have sites they rarely visit themselves, much less a magnetic destination for customers and prospects.
    Your suggestion of thinking about it as an extension of “where they work” is interesting. Thanks!

    Doug,

    That story from your past is probably the closest you’ll ever get again to anything resembling the “Twinkie Effect”. You literally wrote the book on Content Marketing. Thanks for commenting!

    (For anyone reading these comments, also read Doug’s B2B Marketing Manifesto and you’ll see what I mean: http://bit.ly/gkx01A )

  • Billy Mitchell

    Clay,

    Just read your comment and totally agree.

    If there is anything as bad as an outdated, dormant or abandoned business blog, it’s the opposite – A constant blast of “junk food” nonsense or promotional hype.

    Maybe Mr. Ed had it right because he didn’t speak unless he had something to say. Of course the horse did or it wouldn’t have been much of show either.

  • Tweets that mention The Content Marketing Fail, aka “the Twinkie Effect” | THE SOCIAL CMO Blog -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dougkessler, Billy Mitchell. Billy Mitchell said: RT @dougkessler: The Twinkie Effect. Is your site sending a stale message? http://bit.ly/afVkOs @billymitchell1 [...]

  • Tweets that mention The Content Marketing Fail, aka “the Twinkie Effect” | THE SOCIAL CMO Blog -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elizabeth Reaves, Kelly Pires. Kelly Pires said: The Content Marketing Fail, aka “the Twinkie Effect” | THE SOCIAL CMO Blog http://bit.ly/eV095G from @billymitchell1 #b2bmarketing [...]