Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Canned Blog Content = Disaster

I recently heard about a couple "blog services" that attempt to translate the concept of syndicated (i.e., canned) print products into the social media realm. Because the same exact content is used by multiple businesses, the cost is low. An easy, inexpensive way for a busy small business owner to have a “social” presence, say those who offer the services. Great idea, right?
Wrong. Very, very, very wrong.
I don’t care how cheap the service is; posting the same blog content as dozens of other businesses is an enormously costly mistake. It is a mistake that will not only harm your brand's public perception, but one that is in violation of Google’s duplicate content policy and will kill your Google ranking. Add to that: when this “cheap” fix inevitably fails, it could deter you from trusting blogging and social media as a marketing tool… which would ultimately have a devastating effect on your business growth and revenue.
Unlike syndicated print, blogs are not produced only for a local market. While the reader of a local syndicated print product is unlikely to see the same print content from a competitor 1,000 miles away, a blog reader can (and probably will) search a subject, finding results in real time from around the globe. A blog is also, fundamentally, social. And social means—first and foremost—authentic and engaging.  A blog is personal for your business—a place to share your unique expertise, your unique product or services, and your unique point of view in a way that engages potential customers. If your company blog, instead, has canned content and the same posts as dozens of other businesses, it defies the very purpose of a blog and, worse, defines you to your potential clients as inauthentic… the kiss of death in a social world (online or otherwise).
Since I started consulting on social media three years ago, I’ve found that the most effective way to explain the ins and outs of this “new” digital form of communication is to show how it is so very similar to the age-old form of communication: in-person networking. So, first, imagine the blogosphere as a giant cocktail party where your key potential clients are mingling. Now, here's the equivalent of what happens when you have "canned" blog content:
  1. You (a.k.a your blog) introduce yourself to someone you’ve wanted to meet. As with all networking, you have only a very short window of time to connect with her, show your personality and let her know how and why your products or services are perfect for her. 
  2. You have a great dialogue (blog post) and walk away quite pleased. 
  3. She, in turn, walks away (surfs online) and meets another professional (aka another blog) in your same field. 
  4. That other professional introduces himself to your potential client… then proceeds to have exactly the same conversation (syndicated blog post) you just did. Verbatim. The exact same words, the exact same mannerisms, the exact same smiles and nods; all at exactly the same points in the conversation. “Creepy,” is her likely response, right? 
  5. Then, when she moves on and it happens three more times (syndicated blog posts), she’s likely to go running from the room, not trusting one word that any of you said. 
  6. A month later, when she needs expertise or wants to purchase the goods and services you offer, what is she going to do? Easy: she’s going to seek out someone authentic and genuine. Someone she can trust.
As a small business owner, you’re busy, so hiring someone to represent you is a great way to conduct business development. But it’s a pretty basic requirement that whomever you hire must understand your brand and services, and can represent them in a personal, genuine manner. You wouldn’t send a representative into a key trade show or networking event if he couldn’t speak personally about your business… or worse, if he was representing dozens of other businesses at the same time and simply regurgitating the same script about others as he is about you. The same standards must hold true for whomever you contract as a ghostwriter for your blog or other social media profiles.
The bottom line: networking in the digital realm isn’t something new, it’s just an online extension of networking in the “real” world. So, the same age-old rules apply: there’s the easy way of doing things. And then there’s the right way.


  1. awesome, awesome, post!! You rock, Carrie!!

  2. Outstanding work, and way to voice a point that has made me shudder for years. Thanks.