Like everyone else in 2016, content marketing seems to be abusing popular culture more and more. Just google the name of any popular show that airs at the moment (be it Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead) and you will get the plethora of guides, tutorials and lessons with little to no applicable value whatsoever. Sure, this may work as an effective method of attracting audience, but sometimes it isn’t simply worth it. Here are a few reasons why this is the case, and the list of ways in which negative side-effects of content marketing-pop culture relationship can be avoided.
Hopping on the Bandwagon
After the 9th episode of Game of Thrones’ season 6, The Battle of Bastards, the internet was broken. Wherever you turn, everyone would post, tweet and talk about the show. Few days later in the aftermath, content marketers worldwide started exploiting this goldmine. The articles about what Game of Thrones can teach you about customer engagement, flexible learning and social media were everywhere. Unfortunately, most of this information had less to do with their actual topics than with the show.
The Feeling of Forced Content
One of the greatest problems with abusing pop culture is that most of the articles and blog posts may seem forced. A careful reader can often clearly see the desperation in a marketer writing about a completely unrelated topic in hope of creating a viral post. Sure, there is a chance of this post getting much broader audience, but most of them are usually not the target demographic. This means that a great number of random internet strangers will simply open the post because of a catchy name or the show fandom. Unfortunately, bad writing or unrelated content may make them leave right away. Sure, you get more views and visits (possibly even likes), but these kinds of vanity metrics bring almost no ROI.
Almost No Value Whatsoever
The biggest issue with most of similar content is that it has no applicable value whatsoever. Sure, someone is talking about Pokémon Go, but that’s what app and game reviews are for, not business blog posts. They try to teach you something, but what can you learn from this? Well, nothing, actually! This is just an example of how the title bloggers, news and marketers are going to bombard us in the next period.
Using the Momentum
The most important thing about using popular culture is recognizing the momentum. For example, PornHub announced a curious statistic that, shortly after the premier of Game of Thrones’ season six, searches including a keyword “Game of Thrones” have jumped by 370 percent. Similar was the situation with other sites and search engines. What this means is that, if one has a moment of inspiration regarding something referring to a piece of beloved pop culture, it might be a good idea to sit on that post for a while. Waiting for the right moment to post or publish might significantly improve its engagement.
Additionally, finding the right place matters, as well. Look at it this way — Quora, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook groups are going to be a hotspot of related discussions, so approaching your target audience there might result in great success. Just make sure not to seem too promotional.
Not a Bad Thing
Finally, the problem is not in the use of popular culture. After all, many content marketing agencies consider pop culture a worthy piece of weapon in the content marketers’ arsenal. Not only does it simplify publishing, but it also draws in a large number of followers who like to read about their favorite Pokémon/GOT character/Marvel hero/DC comics hero. In other words, if you really have something to say but fear it won’t resound loud enough, there is nothing bad in using popular culture as a vessel. In fact, this idea is the very core of what content marketing should be about.
Sure, pop culture is an unavoidable part of content marketing (or marketing in the first place). The Marlboro Man, Ronald McDonald and Geico Caveman are the perfect examples of that. Not to mention celebrities working as brand advocates. Still, all things must be done in moderation. There is nothing wrong with your content dipping into the pool of pop culture, as long as you make sure it doesn’t drown in it.