content mistakes

Takeaways from WeContent Days #4: How to avoid frequent content mistakes

No strategy. No consistency or long-term thinking. Being impatient and talking too much about yourself. These are just a few of the “biggest content marketing mistakes” that were discussed during WeContent Days #4, on May 26th, 2022. The event took place in the heart of Bucharest and addressed the core problems of content marketers everywhere.

Special guests Cor Hospes, Koen Denolf, Raluca Șteblea, and Adrian Enache shared useful lessons from their broad experience working with global brands, small businesses, NGOs, and universities. Participants learned how to tell unforgettable stories, how to use their creativity to create better content, and how to avoid the frequent mistakes that so many creators make. Here are the main takeaways.

Don’t create content. Tell unforgettable stories instead.

The first part of the event featured two masterclass sessions in storytelling and creativity.

Cor Hospes from The Netherlands is the author of several content marketing and storytelling bestsellers, and a well-known international speaker, consultant, and trainer who helps companies create stories worth sharing.

Cor’s journey into storytelling started early, with school magazines, handwritten comics, and drawings. He told participants how, when he was in school, wanted to write the best paper in class about the Second World War, so he went on a quest, just like any hero in a story would. This quest led him to discover not only a tale about the war, but, later, the main elements of any good story: a character, a wish, an obstacle, and a message. That’s the simple version.

If you want to create an incredible story, you must add another layer of elements. First, all good stories deal with change. They start with a change, and we see the characters and even ourselves as readers/viewers change by the end.

Then, you must have a conflict that drives the story forward. Cor Hospes explains that most brands communicate stories without conflict: the consumer has a problem, the business comes along with the product, and the problem is gone. Happy ending. But things don’t work that way. Just like real life is full of ups and down, your story needs to have conflict and resolution.

And, lastly, a common element of unforgettable stories is the mentor. The mentor is the character that helps and advises the protagonist. Think of Mr. Miyagi, Yoda, or any other secondary character from any famous book or movie that is there along the way to guide the main character in key moments. Instead of you as the brand being the main character, as it usually happens, why not be the mentor?

If you pay attention, you will see all these elements in action in great stories. And, with some practice, you’ll be able to use them to create or rewrite your own.

Feeling stuck? Creativity to the rescue!

Want to create better content? Well, just use your creativity.

Easier said than done. Thankfully, we had Koen Denolf from Belgium to teach us some of the secrets of the trade and give us some excellent examples of content done right. Koen Denolf is a content strategist and managing partner at The Fat Lady, an award-winning content marketing agency from Belgium. Koen himself has been awarded Content Marketer of the Year in 2021.

The best way to be creative is to start with your unique story. Luckily, Cor has just outlined what it takes to tell a good story. Tell that story with your voice. Even if the story was told before in one way or another, no one has the same perspective as you. Find that distinctive voice and use it when you create content.

Brands talk a lot about purpose these days, and it’s important to do so, but avoid greenwashing. Use your purpose for a concrete purpose, says Koen Denolf. Be relevant with your story and involve your audience in communicating the message. An example is an award-winning campaign run by Boston University, where students were the ones communicating about COVID-19 rules to their colleagues.

You can also use technology creatively. Koen gave the example of Volkswagen’s app which helped children enjoy car rides and not look at screens the entire time.

Creativity does not only apply to the message but the distribution channels as well. For example, to attract more blood donors, the Sanquin foundation in the Netherlands created an award mechanism in the popular game League of Legends. By being creative and taking the message where the audience was, they were able to attract 5.000 new donors. 

Koen gave a lot more amazing examples that inspired the participants. So, next time, get your ticket and be there at WeContent Days 😉.

Think long term

For the second part of WeContent Days #4, Cor Hospes and Koen Denolf were joined on stage for a panel discussion by Raluca Șteblea, a leader in internal and external communications, professor, business consultant, and digital growth strategist. The moderator of the debate was Adrian Enache, CEO of OmniPERFORM

The panelists discussed what they see as the most frequent – and biggest – mistakes that people make when it comes to content marketing:

1. Talking About Yourself

2. No Reflection of Your DNA

3. Thinking in Mass

4. Impatience

5. No Internal Ambassador

6. No Strategy

7. Lack of Information/Data

8. No Consistency

9. Change Tac Too Soon

10. Too Much

While time was too short to cover all of them in detail, most of the points do speak for themselves and are common sense. However, in practice, brands still make these content mistakes often, so it’s good to keep this list close and check it from time to time, as a reminder.

One message was clear from the speakers: you must think long-term when creating content. Short-term campaigns, even if great, will deliver short-term results. And long-term thinking implies listening to everyone in the company, taking your time to create incredible, relevant stories, and giving creativity room to evolve.

In conclusion, we’ll leave you with this message from Koen’s presentation.

WeContent Days #4 was powered by Wave Division, a brand dedicated to enabling meaningful connections. It was also supported by Commons, OmniPERFORM, AQUA Carpatica, and the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.

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