The Content Marketing Echo Chamber

Most corporate websites serve as platforms for brands to talk about themselves. Social Media? Amplification of what brands say about themselves and maybe what positive things others are saying about the brand.

These are not conversations. They are content marketing echo chambers. What is the content marketing echo chamber?

Brand noise. By the brand, about the brand, for the brand, and constantly being reverberated across platforms.

But now we have evolved from brands simply talking about themselves on their websites, to brands activating their employees to talk about their companies, and even to brands asking customers and partners to talk about the brands and to mention how great the brand is. All echoed in the social sphere.

The problem with this approach: you start to believe what you hear. The messages seem forced. And you begin to believe your own hype. You begin to think you are doing a great job at reaching your customers.

But in reality, more and more of your potential customers are tuning you out…

Content Marketing: The “Year of The Story?”

Some have called 2012 “the year of the story.” And Fast Company points out that this is much more than brands telling more stories about themselves.

This is about compelling content that puts customers needs ahead of the brand in order to create powerful connections. They even identified storytelling as a key marketing skill for today’s hyper-social and mobile-connected world.

Stories are important because they help us connect. Effective stories draw us in. They make us not only want to follow along, they actually make us part of the story.

I’m not sure 2012 will be remembered as the year of the story. I believe the forces of Content Marketing and Social Business have made great strides in 2012 and will continue to move forward in 2013.

Focus On The Customer

But the thing that keeps getting in the way: a lack of focus on the customer.  There are plenty of excuses for overly-promotional and boring content. Many content marketing and social media programs serve only to promote products because their managers are saying “we are in the business of selling products.”

But every company is sending more and more of this same content blahhhhh and our customers are tuning out. We are seeing a battle for customer attention taking place. And only the content that grabs the readers attention and inspires action is getting through.

The Most Important Step To Content That Doesn’t Suck

Earlier this year, I covered Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi’s 6 steps to content that isn’t boring. Inspired by Joe, I said the main point was that “good content educates, entertains or even amazes your audience because it starts with a focus on them, not you.”

So the most important step to content that doesn’t suck is to “remove your brand from story.” Or in other words: Stop talking about yourself.

You’ll win more friends and influence more people. You’ll start to get a sense for how large a role you play in the larger conversation. And maybe you can even earn the trust of the community to start chiming in.

Do You Hear The Content Marketing Echo Chamber?

Are you working to drive the customer into the center of your brand communications?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.