Is content the new spam?

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Content marketing is still in its hype phase. And where there’s a hype, pessimists are never far away, warning of the imminent bursting of the bubble. Apparently, too much of any one thing is never good. And this should also apply to content marketing: If internet users see nothing but content, it won’t be long before they get used to it and content becomes meaningless – just like spam. Is this really the case? Is content the new spam?



Content Marketing: The hype and its bandwagon


This is what hype looks like: The interest in “Content Marketing” over time according to Google Trends. (As of: 6th July 2014)


As early as 2013, the content marketing agency Velocity put its finger on the problem: When marketers change over to content marketing and start to produce more content, they need well-trained content producers. It’s highly unlikely that a content producer is able to produce really good content from day one. A paradigm shift, such as a move towards content marketing, takes time.

The effect: Masses of poor quality content. The target group ends up with the white noise of inferior content. It doesn’t take long for the audience to realise this and soon the target group ignores content as if it were spam.


Yet, if you feel pushed to give up on content marketing, your reasoning is wrong. While this argumentation may appear plausible at first glance, it ignores what content marketing actually is.

Content is relevant, spam is not

According to the Oxford Dictionary, spam is irrelevant and unwelcome. Can content also be irrelevant and unwelcome? You only need to take a quick look at the Crispy Content Content Marketing Glossary to answer this question:

“Content marketing aims to inspire customers […] through the targeted creation and distribution of relevant high quality content.”

Content is relevant. Spam is not. If content is irrelevant, it proves that content marketing has been executed poorly. Thus, the issue is not that all content marketing will end up as spam – only the bad stuff. As you can see, a “content marketing bubble” is not a rational fear. Let’s replace this worry with a key question: Where does good content end and spam begin?

Dos and Don’ts

We already know that good content is something our target persona wants. Content marketers need to put every effort into understanding their target group, including its interests and issues.

Thus, a marketer has to apply the following DO’s:

• Understand the target persona and its environment. A persona has issues, sensitivities, desires and interests. While content can’t mirror them all, the marketer should pay attention to them when he is planning content in the course of the content marketing cycle. How can a marketer hit a persona’s nerve, if he fails to understand it?

• Deal with the stereotypes your persona has to face. This point is lacking in many buyer persona checklists. Yet, a persona will be as likely to reject a wrong stereotype interpretation, as irrelevant content. In my blog post “DIY Test: Are you talking at cross-purposes with the target persona of your content marketing?”, I explain why.

These considerations are absorbed into the content marketing strategy. Nevertheless, even content that is relevant for a particular persona can disappear in the white noise. Internet users resort to patterns to help them separate the wheat from the chaff.

To ensure that neither your target group nor Google classifies your good content as chaff, you will also need to observe these DON’Ts:

• Redundant Content: Spam is characterised by its repetitive nature and redundancy. Content must be unique. If content is outdated or pops up everywhere, it is no longer useful.

• Search engine fraud: Search engine optimisation can serve a range of purposes. Ever since the Google algorithm updates Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0 one of them has become history: taking advantage of system errors. If you try to trick Google with poor quality duplicate content crammed with keywords, the search engine will recognise your content as spam. It is classified as irrelevant and punished with low placements.

• Stylistic clickbait tools: Clickbait is defrauding the target group. Internet users – who have initially been tricked – are increasingly aware that a promising headline with a mysterious picture rarely leads to anything of value. This stylistic tool has been burnt in every respect. It’s a sign of poor quality content and has no place in content production.

• Copy & paste seeding: Content reaches the target group via social media. This content seeding is part of the content marketing cycle. It’s human nature that people prefer to discover things themselves. This is why instinct and tact are called for here. If the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts and reposts are identical, they may as well be produced by a machine. That is an impression you want to avoid at all costs. Seeding requires creativity. It should be a given that these posts should not be promotional or pushy in nature and that they should take the needs of each platform’s users into account.

Good content is king, bad content is spam

Good content needs good marketers. And right now, there’s a distinct lack of them. Else, this entire discussion about content and spam would never have surfaced in the first place. Here at Crispy Content, we’re pretty relaxed about it all. As a Brand Communication Agency, we have internalised the relevant DO’s and DON’Ts and we ensure that our clients’ content does not degrade to spam.


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Is content the new spam?

Founder & CEO

Gerrit Grunert

Gerrit Grunert is the founder and CEO of Crispy Content. Always revved up, he is a goldmine of creative ideas which are infectious to everyone around him. Gerrit knows how to utilise the full potential of this explosive mixture - both at work and in his leisure activities. While he continues to work towards his childhood dream of becoming the fastest guitar player in the world and tests his endurance in cycling races, he is also instigating the content marketing revolution from the Crispy Office.Unser Team