Why Content Marketing Goes Rogue And How To Rein It In

Is your content going rogue?


Image via Shutterstock

Do you know all the sites and social media accounts controlled by your brand or company?

Who can access and update them? Who knows the passwords? How frequently is the content on each property being updated, and how do those updates conform to larger communications and brand strategies?

Or has this whole content thing mushroomed out of control, quite possibly behind your back? A project I’m involved with was supposed to have been delivered last week. It’s late (I hate late!), but it can’t be helped.

Scope creep doesn’t begin to describe the situation, when you thought you’d be auditing a small handful of websites and social media properties, only to find one more. And one more. Hang on, here’s another. The tally is up to 25 websites, a plethora of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and one YouTube channel (the only number the client was right about). All for one nonprofit organization.

Think this is unusual? Think again. In research conducted last year, my colleague Jeremiah Owyang found the average enterprise class corporation (those with 1,000 or more employees) has an average 178 social media accounts (he didn’t look at websites or microsites for the study).

Heck, it’s so easy to open accounts nowadays, anyone can do it. And do it they certainly do. Frequently, it’s with the best of intentions, not to mention a high degree of frustration with existing policies and procedures (“we launched it on WordPress so we wouldn’t have to wait in the IT queue for 18 months” was a refrain we heard multiple times when interviewing companies about how they organize for content marketing). We heard this so frequently; in fact, we dubbed the trend “going rogue.” While anyone who’s ever been stuck in that IT queue can sympathize, going rogue does come with some major downsides.

• Inconsistency. We’re all for creative license to a degree, but carefully crafted voice, tone, brand and other content governance guidelines tend to go out the window when content channels spill into unknown and unsupervised terrain. Inconsistency may, in fact, be a best-case scenario. Rogue content channels can easily create a full-on sanitation or crisis control situation if left unchecked.

• Tactics Over Strategy. Let’s launch a Facebook page! Why don’t we try using Pinterest? Enthusiasm for the latest and greatest social media channel, tempered with a healthy dose of bright, shiny object syndrome leads to abrupt launches without a strategic foundation from a marketing perspective, no associated business goals, no measurement plan, no editorial calendar, etc. A new launch shouldn’t happen unless there’s a sound reason for it and a plan for going forward.

• Digital Detritus. A common result of shoot-from-the-hip tactics rather than a strategy-driven launch is digital detritus, the auto graveyard of the information superhighway. The Twitter account that’s been tweet-less for two years now. The site promoting the event that happens last July. The photo account with three shots on it. The Facebook page that was frequently updated the week it launched, then abandoned. Digital detritus makes organizations appear unplanned, unfocused, undedicated and uncaring. They should never, ever be your public face.

• Lost Keys. Julie from marketing quit last month, and now no one can get into that account she maintained. Worse, it’s prominently displaying content that’s outdated/inappropriate/inaccurate and no one can get in to fix it.

Rogue content happens for a lot of reasons: frustration with the ability to get things done through official channels is one big factor, but it’s not the only one. There’s also the perception that content is “free.” After all, a Twitter account won’t eat into budget (the thinking goes), so why not take the initiative and look proactive?

Rogue content happens when organizations overlook content strategy — they fail to put governance procedures in place to oversee and manage all the processes associated with content creation, distribution and management.

Employees go rogue when they aren’t trained in content strategy (not infrequently because that strategy simply doesn’t exist). Rogue content, surprise websites, and three times more social media channels than you thought existed are rarely welcome surprises. An integral part of creating a content strategy is taking an audit of what’s “out there” to assess what’s working, what isn’t, what’s manageable and what needs fixing.

I suggest getting started now. It’s not unlikely there’s rogue material out there, making the job even bigger than you think.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column


About The Author: is an analyst at the Altimeter Group where she covers digital advertising and marketing. A consultant, author, and sought-after speaker, Rebecca is the former head of Econsultancy's US operations. She was VP and editor-in-chief of The ClickZ Network for over seven years. For a portion of that time, Rebecca also ran Search Engine Watch.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    178 social media accounts? I would never be able to sleep at night worrying about that many profiles out there, many of which are completely out of my control! But that’s what happens when you’ve got a lot of hands in the pot and everyone is trying to make something happen.

  • Pat Grady

    A client once said to me… disorganization is a key element of our security plan.

  • Matt McGee

    Ha! That’s a great line. :-)

  • http://imprinsic.com/ Matthew Steffen

    Rebecca Lieb, thanks to you for your innovative and important tactics regarding content marketing.I hope you will write again more helpful article.

  • http://www.clickmarkets.net Chip Roberson

    Depending on the size and make-up of your company as well as your industry segment, 178 could be low – quite low. There is more out there than most companies realize.

  • Thomas Smith

    178 social media accounts!? I’m guessing there was a serious lack of communication between that company (no offense intended to whoever it is!). Either that or they took “social media presence” way too literally.


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