You are developing your product or service idea and come to the point where your site needs content to support your service offering and ideas. Then you perform some research and start following advice you have found online. And then ... you create the next blog that no one will follow.
I call it "content entropy". Tones and tones of articles that borrow from each other or follow the same pattern, usually by sticking to one of the popular "influencer" sites' advice.
What Is Content Entropy?
Our service is communicating content strategy with new and established clients on a daily basis. Only a few of them are willing to create original content despite all of them claiming the opposite. Original content is not a result of avoiding copying and pasting from other sites. Original is result of having an original idea and implementing it. Anyone can create unique content and we will explain this in more detail below. Creating original content is another thing.
Making the next list of "top free ... for startups" is not an original idea, obviously. It can be original but rarely is. Let me explain.
A rule of thumb is that lists, or listicles, are a popular type of content. So far, so good. But what value you are adding to your website and overall brand reputation by publishing a list of, say, top content marketing tools for startups and small businesses.
The average such a list will look like:
Top Content Marketing Tools for Startups
- Google AdWords
- Medium, WordPress...
- Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter...
Make a small experiment, perform a search for the phrase "top content marketing tools for startups" and then compare the resulting lists. Most of them will contain all of the above services in different order. Those are close to 58 million search results (57,900,000 results as of the time of writing this article).
None of these multiple results adds additional value or provides a unique angle to the list's content. It is filler content. And this is content entropy.
To Follow or Not To Follow
No, I do not have in mind to follow an "influencer". I am asking if really you should follow all those advice generously provided by content marketers and digital "gurus".
You may well start increasing the existing content entropy by opting to follow the advice provided by one of the many guides, e-books, or articles on the subject of content marketing and/or digital marketing. The problem is that these very advice or rules are available to anyone who can read. Subsequently, an overwhelming majority of business owners and founders stick to the very same content strategy when trying to boost the popularity of their brand online. The result is a growing content entropy.
Let me develop the above example a bit further. What if your list of top content marketing tools for startups and SMB looks the following way:
Top Content Marketing Tools for Startups
- SEO Review Tools
These are random samples from our soon to be published directory of curated free resources for startups and small and medium businesses. We were not looking for popular tools but for useful tools that have a free plan and affordable pricing tiers. And thanks to this approach, our list is original in many ways.
Unique Is Not Original
If we look at the first list, we'll find that most of the articles that provide such a list of top startup tools are actually unique. They are not original, though.
Original does not mean unique. You may well have unique content that differs from other articles by wording only. Having original content is another story. And you cannot have original content by following advice such as: "look for trending topics", "research trending keywords", or "create lists of popular tools and/or products".
By following such an advice, you'll end up creating filler content that is both meaningless and does not add value to your branding strategy, both in terms of website authority and brand reputation. Last but not least, readers are fed up with these all the same blog posts, articles and product/service lists.
Look, even the leading websites are creating boring and repetitive content to satisfy the requirements of the search engines for fresh content. Most of these websites realize that they are creating scrap content. We too sometimes create content to maintain our blog updated although we try to produce useful content all the time.
Nonetheless, creating content for the sake of it is meaningless and counter effective in the long run. You can fool a limited number of readers for a long time but you cannot fool all your readers in the long haul.
Betting on Originality Is a Winning Strategy
The same problem exists at another level. There are many startups enjoying high popularity across many industries. Many of them are titled "disruptive" with no one being able to explain in plain English what and how they actually disrupt. Conveying a brand message and boosting brand awareness is one thing, disrupting an industry is a very different beast.
Some of these startups are simply very good in marketing and popularizing their product and service. Many of them use the mentioned content entropy methods to gain popularity. But this is short-term popularity, as their product/service is not backed by originality but uniqueness. Once more, having a few dozens of video messaging tools does not mean each of them is original. They simply differ in certain functionality, which makes them a bit unique compared to each other.
This very situation explains why when exploring LinkedIn hashtags you will find that the Computing hashtag has only 2 million followers while the Marketing tag enjoys over 12 million followers. A strange finding if you bear in mind that most today's startups are dealing with computing problems and make their money out of computing.
It is a wrong approach and strategy, however. Look at it this way - publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, or Wired are still in the business not because they follow hot topics and the news of the day but despite that. They are still alive and well because they offer you original content on topics everyone else is also covering. So, think once more about what path your business will follow when you sit down to create a winning content strategy.
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