To that end, I reviewed a sample of 87 posts on the aforementioned Coca-Cola Journey site. To see whether people really are engaging with the stories, I documented the number of shares to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from each post.
I discovered the level of interaction was negligible: The average number of shares from a post to Facebook was 238, to LinkedIn, 103 and to Twitter, 42. Each post averaged eight comments and two-thirds of posts received no comments at all.
It is worth pausing for a moment to consider the implications: One of the biggest brands in the world generates next to no interaction through its primary window to the world."
It’s a few months old, but this is a good, damning analysis of major corporate ‘content marketing’. More impressive for being published in a content marketing blog, which has an interest in not examining the emperor’s wardrobe this thoroughly.
"Content marketing" is a good chunk of my job, so I’m hardly going to damn it outright. But it’s very worth asking what kind of ‘content’ a brand like Coke can credibly produce, aside from ads. Especially if - as seems likely, after reading this - Coke itself hasn’t thought much about that. It’s the same problem with ‘native advertising’. Either you talk about the brand, in which case it’s just ‘advertising’, or you don’t, in which case it’s publishing, and your people aren’t as good at that as the people whose nest you’re paying to cuckoo in. Not that they’re exactly getting rich right now.
Or put it another way. For years marketing people have called themselves “creatives” and have talked about what they do in terms of artistry, creativity, craft, emotion, beauty, excitement, engagement, and so on. What’s happening with native advertising and with content marketing is that the boundaries are coming down between marketing creativity and craft and non-marketing creativity and craft - journalism, filmmaking, pop videos, games, whatever. They get to compete on level terms.
And the marketing stuff is losing. Because the marketers, the ‘content creators’, the ‘creatives’ aren’t good enough at it.
There’s no shame in that, they never were and never will be. Back in the day the “problem” of advertisers not being publishers was solved elegantly and neatly with sponsorship - they didn’t create the content themselves, they paid for it to exist. You can see this particular cycle heading that way and re-learning that lesson. In the meantime, plenty of money will be spent on mediocre things, and the world will hardly see any of them.