Data Shows Less is More: A Lesson Learned from TrackMaven at #ContentTECH 2015

Yesterday I listened to a presentation by Ian Walsh, CMO and Chief Marketing Maven of TrackMaven, entitled The Content Marketing Paradox: Is Content Marketing Collapsing Under Its Own Weight? I was very interested in the title because for quite a while now, I’ve seen more brands churning out more content than ever before. Come to find out, it’s actually part of a much larger problem with content. Brands are making so much, it’s having detrimental results.

A Negative Trend: Too Much Content

TrackMaven analyzed 8,000 brands across five major social networks from 2013-2014. As brand-generated content increased by 78%, interactions per post per 1,000 followers fell by 60%!

8000 brands graph

Also, according to TrackMaven:

  • On social networks, brand-generated content is seeing the lowest engagement rates now than any time in 2013 and 2014.
  • 43% of professionally-marketed blog posts receive fewer than 10 interactions.

Scary stuff. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Let’s take a look at a specific brand and learn from their example. Trust me, there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Pottery Barn

At the beginning of 2014, the US marketing team for Pottery Barn decided to increase the brand’s Pinterest content in the hopes of increasing followers and engagement. Unfortunately, the strategy backfired. While quadrupling the content from January to July, average interactions per pin decreased 75%. And as bad as that sounds, it looks even worse.

Pottery Barn Down Trend

But the nice thing about data like this is that it may also hold the solution. Would reversing it work? Would creating less content produce better results?

Less is More: A Tale of Two Barns

Yes! As you can see from the graph below, according to TrackMaven:

“The results? By October 2014, Pottery Barn posted only 60 Pins, but reaped 343 interactions per Pin on average — more than three times their average engagement from July.”

Pottery Barn Epilogue

But it wasn’t as simple as just reducing the number of pins.


How did Pottery Barn achieve such fantastic results? Well, first you have to take a look at the type of content the brand was producing before:

Coral Framed Pin

Bad Pin Stats

And the type of content the brand was producing after they changed their content strategy:

Wine and Cheese Pin

Good Pin Stats

By changing from bland, emotionless product placement to energetic, vibrant, and informational content, Pottery Barn engaged its audience in a much more beneficial way. And the data reflects the change. Pottery Barn went from 0.26 times the number of interactions as the brand’s average to over 3 times the average.

Quality Over Quantity

When you’re reworking your content strategy, don’t let this negative trend make you think that branded content doesn’t work. Learn from the Pottery Barn example. As stated by TrackMaven:

“Long learning cycles with re-syndicated content blasted to countless digital channels, combined with the lag in measuring content effectiveness, is a recipe for producing more ineffective content.”

Imagine there are two restaurants. One serves 10 items that have been carefully selected using customer feedback. The other offers an overwhelming, random assortment of food and the management never asks the customers if they actually enjoy it. Which one would you rather go to?

You can’t expect success when you’re flooding your networks with bland, re-purposed content while at the same time not analyzing your audience. The volume approach doesn’t work when it comes to content marketing. You have to be a surgeon when it comes to branded content. You have to know the nuances of each social network and how each respective audience engages with it. It’s strategic, insights-led, quality content that does work and why we make it a priority at Pace.

If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out the entire report from TrackMaven–The Content Marketing Paradox: Is More Content Really Better?

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