Content, relevancy and tone: a cautionary tale for B2B marketing

What could B2B marketers learn from a celebrity’s Facebook page and website? How not to do content marketing.

Authenticity is tricky to pull off in content.

You know what content marketing is, right? A “strategic marketing approach” whose raisons d’être include “[…] creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behaviour.” The Content Marketing Institute is very clear that good content marketing is about communicating with your audience without “selling”.

They’re also clear that it’s not just for big business; it’s for everyone who’s trying to market something. What may vary are the methods used within the approach, but the core aims of a big enterprise tech brand would be the same as a personal brand. Distributing good, relevant, valuable content that enhances the relationship between the brand and its potential – and existing – customers.

A cautionary tale

What follows is a tale of celebrity, one Facebook page and a personal brand website. An episode in marketing and PR heaped with all the emotion that can only be brought forth by fervent fans who are dedicated to a celebrity and the TV show that they star in.

I am one of the fans who witnessed this story unfold.

This is a tale about bad content and the lessons we can learn from it as people who operate within B2B marketing.

What happened?

During an eight day period, the Facebook page of Jared Padalecki (one of the leading actors of the TV show Supernatural) suddenly started posting at a level previously unseen by the actor’s fans. Within this short period, the page was deluged with link posts from Padalecki’s new website.

The website ended up posting 28 blog posts/articles over those eight days, with only seven directly related to the actor. Most of these articles were then linked to on Jared’s Facebook page, with pre-amble. All of the articles used clickbait, BuzzFeed-style headlines, like:

What Was That? The Five Creepy Things In This Video Defy A Simple Explanation

Holy Fido! These 12 Gigantic Dogs Seemed To Have Never Grown Out Of Their Puppy Phase

Fact Or Fiction? This Hospital Worker Claims To Have Taken A Snapchat Picture Of A ‘Dead Girl’ Hanging In A Corridor

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Wrong. Just as more astute fans would soon realise, much of the content not related to Padalecki was of questionable quality (offences included poor grammar); was curated but added nothing to the original story; was often posted without source links provided; and was being presented as Jared Padalecki’s own thoughts and opinions. Padalecki had started filming season 11 of Supernatural just before this started and he’d had a hectic schedule prior to filming.

The site also made extensive use of advertising platforms. Once fans became vocal about the content and accompanying ads, the site stopped being updated and eventually the link posts on Facebook were hidden from the page’s timeline, and then eventually the website was deleted.

Three lessons for B2B marketing

While not all fans reacted negatively to what happened, many did. There is no disguising the poor quality of what was posted and the ad model for the website was also questionable.

What can we in B2B marketing learn from this extreme incident of content gone awry? Here are three lessons we can take away from this:

3. Think quality first

Quality over quantity should be your main goal. Not 28 blog posts over eight days. Google’s algorithms might favour websites that update regularly, but their algorithms also consider:

“[…] how trustworthy, reputable, or authoritative a source is.”

Outside of thinking about search engine optimisation, you need to remember that each piece of content that gets fed into, say, a marketing automation platform is an ambassador for a brand. You don’t build an embassy out of unpainted chipboard and bung a palm tree on the outside and hope for the best.

Decent content costs. Copywriters don’t just estimate writing times for the sake of it. Once that content is out there, online or in print, it’s going to be difficult to rein it back in: you need to get it right first time.

2. Stay relevant

It may be easier in B2B to resist the urge to post:

These Scientists Found A Shark Where? You’ll Never Believe Where They Found Them!

But you can still be irrelevant (and use poor grammar) while thinking you are being relevant. In B2B you’re more likely to cast your net of relevancy too wide, such as in this example given by Kevin Lund, of T3 Custom, and Eileen Sutton, of Sutton Creative:

“If you publish a newsletter for neurosurgeons, don’t blog about breakthroughs in orthopedics just because it’s also in the medical field.”

Staying relevant doesn’t mean content has to be lifeless and humourless, but content definitely needs to be what your audience expects from you.

1. Be authentic

People appreciate authenticity, some groups more than others, but overall people like brands to be authentic. Falseness never comes off well.

Part of the issue with the Jared Padalecki posts, apart from his own schedule indicating that he couldn’t be responsible for the content, was the tone used in them. The language did not reflect the actor’s own tone of voice.

Brands need to watch their tone of voice, it needs to be consistent. You can have different tones across different platforms, but they need to be used in a manner that fits with the overall brand.

Was there a happy ending?

Whether you’re a celebrity or an enterprise technology company, poor quality content does no one any favours. Eventually the website stopped updating and was taken offline, but only after fans and supporters of Mr Padalecki had called the wesbite into question.

If you would like more copywriting and B2B marketing advice and discussion, why not listen to Good Copy, Bad Copy on iTunes or on our website?

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