The Problem With “Staying Relevant”

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I tend to find inspiration in strange places. Last week, I was listening to a podcast with a few of my favorite stand-up comedians expecting nothing more than a few chuckles. Interestingly, they began talking about what it’s like to be a comedian in the age of the Internet and the pressure to “keep their personal brands alive” and “stay relevant” with fresh jokes on a more consistent basis than they can write.

As comedians, these two were put off by the notion that everything online these days is about marketing, whether it be your product, yourself, or even your jokes. One of the quotes that specifically inspired me went something like this: “Everything online is marketing these days. Why can’t we just make good stuff and then people who like it will watch it?”

It’s a great point. We’re constantly thinking about how we can market our brands, our products, our content, and even ourselves. There are blogposts upon blogposts, conversations upon conversations trying to figure out the best way to market x, y, and/or z. Is it possible that in the midst of this marketing obsession we’ve forgotten how to actually just not suck?

I’m not discounting the fact that all brands are becoming publishers now and they’re perpetually fighting for the attention of the consumer, nor am I saying that marketing the things we produce for the Internet isn’t necessary. In fact, marketing is an important part of business – it’s existed way before the Internet and will continue to exist way into the future.

That said, I do think it’s important to consider what these guys brought up. While a white paper about the future of knowledge sharing in the enterprise is possibly a tad less entertaining than a YouTube video of a guy standing on a stage saying funny things and singing silly songs, the mindset of “making good stuff so that the people who like it will consume it” should still be maintained.

While staying visible online and on social media is key for maintaining a top-of-mind position among your customers, it’s not the only solution. Posting random content just so that your potential and current clients see your name and remember that you exist is not going to get you more business.

Just like my comedian friends are against posting a dumb video while they’re working on their next big thing just to keep their YouTube profiles updated, brands should higher their standards when it comes to this practice too.

Although it’s tempting to create “easy” content on a daily basis and just hit publish so that your blog or website has a recent date on it, what’s the point of doing so if even you aren’t proud of what you’re sharing? I would rather spend an entire week on an amazing piece of work that would garner lots of interest and conversation than wasting my time creating “fluff” pieces just so there’s a post every day. What about you?

While it wouldn’t be fully right for me, a marketer, to recommend posting less content online, I do have to say that taking the time to create quality assets will pay off. Instead of focusing 80% of your energy on “staying relevant” and 10% of your energy on creating the content you’re using in order to do so, focus 80% of your energy on creating smart, meaningful content from which your audience will actually benefit and the rest of your time curating.

It’s not humanly possible to create quality content at the rate that’s necessary to stay relevant, and that’s what content curation is for. Luckily for most brands, there is lots of information out there to be curated about their industry, news, etc.

In the meantime, though, quit the obsession with figuring out how to strategically win everyone’s attention and go create something that will actually do it.

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About the Author

Ally Greer
Ally is's Director of Content & Community. She loves to geek out over anything social, Internet, or tech related. When she isn't working, you'll probably find her running the streets of San Francisco. Follow Ally on Twitter @allygreer.
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Roberto Gutiérrez
Roberto Gutiérrez
9 years ago

Less is more… Why haven’t we figure out this?

John Taylor
9 years ago

Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. Far too many people try to please 100% of the market rather than properly researching and defining their perfect reader.

Dante Santalucia
Dante Santalucia
9 years ago

Agreed. Quality over quantity!

9 years ago
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