Did you know that the mere act of searching the internet makes us feel smarter?
I am going to tell you why this happens, how it can cause content marketing mistakes and how to avoid falling into a trap.
Why Google Search makes us Feel Smarter
A recent study showed that when we search the internet we overestimate our knowledge – not only of the subject we were searching for – but of unrelated subjects.
Because information is so easily accessed through search, we become unable to distinguish between what we know and what are able to find online. We begin to think we know more than we actually do. Let’s call this phenomenon “The Google Search Effect”.
I saw a great example of this on a reality t.v. show called Mystery Diners. This is a show where hidden cameras are used in an undercover sting to see if a restaurant’s employees are doing their jobs.
A bartender was observed searching for recipes every time she was asked to make a mixed drink. The restaurant owner was stunned because the bartender had claimed to be experienced and to know how to make mixed drinks. When the bartender was confronted she said, “What’s the big deal? I know how to do it, I just need to look it up on my phone.”
My Experience with the “Google Search Effect”
A few months ago, I hired a new member for my social media team. As part of training, the team member was given tested sources and keywords that reliably helped us find and curate great content to share. This process always yielded content my audience appreciated.
When this new team member submitted the first batch of content for review, it was not at all what I expected. In many cases, the content was quite old and not relevant. My process had always worked so I was puzzled about why it suddenly stopped working.
I reviewed the content that had been submitted and found that it did not come from any of the sources provided.
When l quizzed my team member about the the process used to find the content, the team member confessed that my sources were not used. Instead the keywords were Googled.
My new team member was an inexperienced content marketer who was suffering from the “Google Search Effect”. The team member did not understand that a straight Google keyword search was inefficient and yielded substandard results.
How the Google Search Effect Impacts Content Marketing
Searching for information online is easy – which is precisely why it is a trap. It makes us believe that it is much easier to find good content than it is, in practice.
It causes us to use inefficient techniques to find content. And it encourages us to use the wrong tool for the job. It results in content marketing traps.
Examples of the Content Marketing Traps
- Using Third Party Direct RSS Feeds to Fuel your Social Media Feeds
My immediate reaction to this is why bother? It is easy to spot when people are doing this. It is a low value technique that often results in poor quality content. And it is dangerous. You have no idea what will be sent through on these Feeds. It could be highly damaging to you and your brand.
2. Using a straight Google Search
As I have outlined above this is an inefficient, low yield technique. It often gives outdated and irrelevant content. And it is extremely time consuming if you need a reasonable volume of content.
Why Experienced Content Marketers Do things Differently
Experienced Content Marketers use the right methods and tools.
They understand that their job is to supply content that appeals to the interests and needs of their audience. When they find and curate content they are satisfying this demand and adding value.
Content Marketers add value by :
- Finding great content
- Previewing content and choosing what best suits their audience and aligns with their brand
- Giving meaning to content with hashtags
- Writing a well crafted post or tweet to engage their audience with the content
- Scheduling content so it goes to their audience over time rather than overwhelming their audience with too much content at once
Avoid the Traps
My advice is to follow the practices of experienced Content Marketers. Here is what you need to do:
- Put in the effort
- Find great content
- Add value to the content
- Share the content with your audience over time.
If you consistently provide unique, relevant and engaging content you will gain social influence and successfully build your audience.