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15 Digital Content Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Brand

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15 Digital Content Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Brand

Just as content can help your brand, it can hurt it, too.

Publishing the wrong content can take many forms, but the end results are similar. At worst, it could seriously damage your brand. At best, your content will be ignored.

I’ve rounded up most of the biggest suspects when it comes to content that does more harm than good, so you can avoid them and only create content that really helps your brand.

1. Too much promotional content

Ever been stuck in a conversation with a serial bragger? Yawn.

People who go on about how great they are get boring fast – the same goes for brands. After all, your relationship with your customers should be about them, not you. If you ignore their needs, they’ll assume you’ve got nothing for them and head elsewhere.

The 80/20 rule has been cited as the effective social media content ratio. Focus 80% of your posts on informing and entertaining your followers, while just 20% should be about your business. Similarly, the five-three-two rule says for every 10 posts published, five should be curated from others’ content, three should be original to your brand, and two should be personal and fun to humanize your brand.

But do these rules still hold true? In general, yes. While the ratio may vary, always put your audience first when choosing what to publish.

Always put your audience first when choosing what to publish, says @IrwinHau via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

TIP: Not sure if your brand is dominating the conversation? Review your past month of posts and identify how many are related to what’s important to your brand and how many are related to what’s important to your audience. (Some may address both audiences.) If the number for your brand is higher than for your audience, you’re talking too much about the brand.

2. Email inundation

Consider these two eye-opening statistics: 76% of customers expect consistent interaction with a brand regardless of department. Yet only 54% say it seems sales, service, and marketing teams are siloed and don’t share information.

That disconnect often shows up in the customers’ inboxes. For example, a promotional email is sent. Within minutes, a newsletter shows up in an inbox, followed two hours later with a feedback request from customer service.

That lack of cohesive distribution can prompt your audience to be frustrated with the quantity and disparate connection of your brand’s communication. They are likely to unsubscribe from all your brand’s emails – even the ones they found some value.

Work across silos to coordinate your email outreach with your audience. If that’s not feasible, update your “unsubscribe” form to give them choices on what content they would like to receive (and not receive.)

Word across silos to coordinate #email outreach with your audience so you don’t inundate them, says @IrwinHau via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

3. Overly negative content

Doomscrolling is a thing, but it shouldn’t be something your brand leans into. Though negative content is shared more than positive content, the publisher of that negative content is not necessarily regarded more highly.

I don’t see talking about a customer’s pain points as the same as negative content. If you offer a solution, that’s good marketing. But if you start and end on a negative note, your brand is just being a downer.

4. Talk about potentially controversial topics

Since the 1800s, some form of the saying, “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company,” has been around. And the same holds true for brands when talking to their audiences.

Bring up highly polarizing and emotional topics only if they are part of your brand’s mission and approach to business. If they are, do so in a measured and well-researched way.

5. Bad writing and design

If your words are riddled with poor grammar, your message won’t sit right and may not even be understood. The same goes for poor design of your content. Good writing and design have the power to build your brand’s personality, weave stories, and inspire.

6. Inconsistent voice

Along with bad copy and bad design, content that seems to have a personality crisis is another major turnoff.

#Content that seems to have a personality crisis is another major turnoff, says @IrwinHau via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

One minute, your brand posts cat memes related to your topic. The next post is a deep think piece. You end up with a puzzled audience who don’t have a clue as to what your brand’s voice is.

Always keep your brand voice and style in mind as you create and publish content.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 5 Steps to Find Your Brand Voice

7. Boring subject lines

Sixty-four percent say they decide to open emails based on subject lines, according to a 2021 Barilliance survey. And still, subject lines like “read me” or “check this out” are a dime a dozen. While they may directly invite someone to open the email, they don’t really speak to the recipient. They also don’t help the readers understand what they might get if they open it.

Craft engaging subject lines and personalize them whenever possible.

8. Same content on every platform

A lot of brands cross-distribute the same content on all their social media channels. But that possible time-saving technique could have a negative effect because the platforms are not interchangeable.

Each social platform has a distinct style, tone, and format. They also attract different demographics. LinkedIn is professional, text heavy, and formal. Instagram is visual and image heavy, whereas Twitter is good for bite-sized bits of information and images.

As you create the content, think about your platform and your audience on that platform, and tailor your content accordingly. If you don’t, it’ll feel out of place, and your audience won’t respond as readily.

Think about your platform and your audience and tailor your #content accordingly, says @IrwinHau via @CMIContent. #SocialMedia Click To Tweet

9. Unaccredited content

Using someone else’s content and passing it off as your own is not a good look. The same is true for incorporating images, quotes, videos, survey results and not giving proper credit to the original source.

If you want to republish or excerpt content significantly, get permission and credit accordingly. If you don’t get the OK, look for an alternative source. If you use information from another source in your content, cite and link to the original source.

10. Hashtag-stuffed content

Hashtags have a place: They help people find your content and join the conversation. But add too many, and you just look a bit desperate. Too many hashtags can also make the content difficult to read and dilute the impact of the most relevant ones.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but it recommends using only three to five for the best results. While Twitter allows as many hashtags that fit in its 280 characters, it recommends no more than two as a best practice. That’s another reason to tailor your content for each platform, not automatically cross-publishing.

11. Unreviewed user-generated content

When you share user-generated content indiscriminately, you could end up in trouble. It could include incorrect assertions, images or content that weren’t theirs to share, or come from someone who publicly doesn’t align with your brand’s voice and mission.

To minimize the risk, make sure your brand does a little research before they share the content on your channels. Review the creator’s profile, double-check any facts cited in the content, etc.

12. Writing that doesn’t reflect your audience

You can create content about topics relevant to your audience, but you won’t attract your target audience if you don’t write with that audience in mind.

For example, writing on a topic so the general public would understand wouldn’t be appropriate if your target audience are already well-informed on the topic. As you create, ask: Is this content appropriate for my readership? Will they find value in the information? What reading level should I target?

13. Outdated or unsubstantiated material

You publish factually correct content, but what happens if the facts change over time? What if new information is learned that makes your older content out of date? When in doubt? Take down the potentially outdated content. Delete the page. Or, if the page has a good search ranking, update the page to reflect the most accurate or recently available information.

Whether old or new, avoid claiming something to be true unless you have proof. If you don’t, you could face legal complications, or at least your audience will see your content as less trustworthy.

14. Non-EAT content

Gaming your content to attract search rankings in Google doesn’t bode well. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and content published only in hopes of ranking higher. Google is focused on content that its users find valuable.

That’s why Google adopted the E-A-T guidelines – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. While you can keep up to date on the latest SEO rules, tips, and tricks, the most important thing to keep in mind for search, your brand, and your audience is EAT content.

15. Jumping on trends that aren’t on-brand

Hopping on viral content can be a great way to generate traffic. But, if what you’re posting isn’t on-brand with the rest of your content, it’s confusing to your audience and builds little brand equity.

If you’re unsure about whether something is on-brand for your company, ask a non-marketing person in the organization for a second opinion. They’ll have both an outside and inside perspective, so they can point out inconsistencies or confusion between departments.

Help your brand

As much as we’d all love for this to be true, everyone has seen examples of each kind of bad content mentioned above at least once in their internet life. Now that you know what types of content hurt brands, make sure you steer clear of these common mistakes when creating pieces for your own company’s blog or social media page.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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