Like a fish out of water: content marketer in training

In the short time I've been training as a content marketer, I've run into my fair share of hurdles. One minute I'm scrambling to meet deadlines, and the next I'm trying to catch my breath and avoid the caffeine shakes. But when my work goes live, and I see my name plastered across a client’s website, I feel like I'm under the brightest spotlight and the world is good again!

Clearly, content marketing is a journey — not a one-day trip. And for any aspiring content marketer, it's important to remember this. Look to learn and experience new things every day and build up your knowledge gradually. Just like learning a new language or trying out new food, you can only grow from doing so. With this in mind, here are some of my key learnings from the past week which might strike a chord and help you along the way.

Social butterfly

I've always been a social butterfly. I love to talk and no one can shut me up! I used to think that if I just kept talking, my friends would listen. Now I know it's important to talk about things people want to hear not just ramble on. It's all about the quality of conversation (and not boring people to death!)

Have you ever spoken with someone about a topic that you're completely uninterested in? I have, and let me tell you there is nothing worse than having to make polite conversation with someone you have nothing in common with.

To win at content marketing it's important to be part of a conversation, but equally important to talk about things people actually want to engage in.

Smart marketers make sure their message is relevant and targeting the right audience. Sure, it's easy to just blast your message and hope for the best, but there's a much smarter way to ensure that you hit the bullseye. My earlier social media posts were a case of "spray and pray" with no real strategy. Whilst I got a few bites, the engagement just wasn't there. Let me share with you how this really hit home...

Dogs, cats and robots

Dogs are wonderful creatures. I love them. I dream of one day owning a doggo, but until then I am more than happy to take care of my friends' pooches and following multiple canine IG accounts.

I recently researched into how marketers pull on the heartstrings of dog owners in the pet food industry. As a dog lover, I thought this was an incredibly relevant topic and a great one to base a blog post on. However, my post bombed big time — the readers of my blog were cat owners no doubt! 

Every campaign needs a specific audience in mind otherwise any content produced could fail to resonate with anyone. A bad choice of subject could also lead brands to miss their target audience — and miss out on opportunities to engage with them.

So, if you're creating content, the most important thing to remember is that it must be relevant. You must know your target audience inside and out — and whether they're into dogs, cats or robots that deliver your shopping.

Hashtag happy

Choosing hashtags for your content is like adding spice to a meal. If you're not careful, your content can be ruined by using the wrong ingredients – or too much of the same one. In my last blog post, I talked about how choosing hashtags, is a bit like adding spice to your social media content. Getting that mix right, however, is not as straight forward as I first thought.

Earlier this week, I was getting a tad 'hashtag-happy', mindlessly churning out the same old hashtags and increasing them with every post. I just wanted to get a few more likes on Instagram — you know how it is. One of my colleagues stopped me in my tracks and made me see the error of my ways. It turns out that overloading your posts with hashtags can be a major turn off — both to social media algorithms and your followers.

Hashtags certainly play a key role in your social media strategy. If you’re not using hashtags in your social media posts, you’re potentially missing out on some major engagement opportunities. But using too many hashtags can also work against you. Over use of hashtags can be confusing for your followers and could even portray your brand in a negative light. Your audience gets exposed to a sea of posts per day, so clever use of hashtags gives you the opportunity to strategically make your brand stand out.

With each and every post, I'll be working to better understand the dynamics of hashtags and how they influence social media engagement. Stay tuned as I attempt to master this dark art.

Keeping in the Loop

You won't find me gossiping about celebrities, but I will often talk your ear off about packaging and marketing news.

I manage to consume a ton of candy and food products each year, so I'm particularly excited when my favourite brands launch new packaging.

Mars recently announced they were redesigning their M&Ms characters, saying the overall aim for the revamp was “an updated tone of voice that is more inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.”

The changes have been rolled out across M&M's social media campaigns and will be incorporated into the brand's packaging throughout the year.

Changes include the red M&M “ton[ing] down the bossiness,” while the green M&M has traded in her much-debated white go-go boots for a set of sneakers and a new found focus on confidence. Meanwhile, the orange M&M will "embrace his true self, worries and all" in solidarity with the more "anxious" Gen Z generation.

The move has led to a great deal of debate with many people seeing this as no more than a publicity stunt. Whilst some consumers are upset, it has certainly created buzz in the industry!

Marketing campaigns can fail for a lot of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are that they aren't targeting the right personas, brands didn't do enough research, they created the wrong message, or delivered content at the wrong point in the buyer journey. Learn from your competitor's mistakes.

On the flip side, some of the biggest brand successes have actually been born out of failure. A key learning for me is that it's important to not only follow the campaigns that are popular with consumers, but also the ones turning them off.

Follow the bad ideas. It may sound counter-intuitive, but true creativity often comes out of branding errors and experimentation. Some of the most successful campaigns have resulted from brands taking risks and consumer backlash.

Fish out of water

When I stepped through the 10K60 doors and into content marketing, I felt like a fish out of water. It was a baptism of fire and the first few months were tough.

Life as a trainee content marketer isn't always easy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm glad to have this space to bring you up to speed on my journey. Writing these posts helps me reflect on my progress as I move up the ranks in this dynamic industry.

Kaz D- Content Marketer in Training