A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Content Marketing: Authenticity You Just Can’t Fake

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Content marketing is all about authenticity. And technology has made content marketing easier by making it easier to connect with an audience directly and authentically. Sadly, it’s also made it easier for evil doers to fake it.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.
– Jean Giraudoux (or maybe Joe Franklin. It’s hard to tell fact from fiction on the intertubes some times.)

That old saw is still true today. The New York Times recently published an article about book reviewers for hire. Paid reviewers. Paid for by the authors or publishers. Hmm. Probably not to many 1-star reviews …

My initial thought upon reading the Times article was that social media would continue to gain influence. That’s been the trend for some time now as people, naturally, come to rely on advice from friends more than strangers.

But even that has problems, as there’s apparently good money to be made setting up and selling Twitter followers. According to a May 2012 study by Barracude Labs (cited in a recent Marketing Profs post. (Subscription required for full post.) You can buy Twitter followers from websites and eBay vendors. You can even buy retweets. There are parallel happenings in the Facebook universe, as well.

The paradox is that the same authenticity that makes content marketing so effective could also be content marketing’s undoing if it becomes faked on a grand scale. (Or is just perceived to be fake on a grand scale.)

There’s no cure for a macro trend like that on a micro level. Content marketers simply have to face the reality that there aren’t any shortcuts. Buying lists or followers or anything else you haven’t earned isn’t likely to work out well in the long run. Stick to your guns, maintain an authentic voice, and associate your brands only with other marketers who do the same. Your rise to the top may be slower, but your stay there will be longer, and much easier to maintain. 


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