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It’s an age old question for content marketers: what’s the recipe for ideal content that will be read, linked, tweeted and otherwise disseminated around the web?

We have an informal motto when it comes to online content: for something to be worth your time, it has to be either Useful or Amusing.

This theory earned itself some credit recently, when a press release we sent out saw a much better response than we’d anticipated.

Within the translation industry, there are two age old clichés: the first is the phrase ‘lost in translation’; and the second is ‘funny mistranslations’.

Language service providers have been compiling lists of amusing translation mistakes since the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of the translation industry), but it’s a theme worth returning to (especially since some organisations still refuse to learn the simple lesson that, when it comes business translation, you can’t beat a professional linguist).

So we compiled our ten favourite business translation blunders, from airlines gone unintentionally nudist to unfortunate beer slogans. Not exactly Useful, or even particularly timely, but it did tick the box of being Amusing – and the response was very interesting.

The story got picked up everywhere from The Independent to Smarta, Real Business, Business Zone, SME Web and Computer Weekly, to name a few.

It seems that, when it comes to catchy content, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Topics that might be considered ‘over-used’ within your particular sector can have real interest-value for the wider web, when presented in the right format (for instance, it’s well established that ‘top ten’ or ‘top five’ lists are among the most clickable content on the web).

The trick for anyone involved in content marketing is working out ways to get your content onto the really prominent, high value sites. First of all, you want your message to be viewed by the greatest number of people, and second of all, you want to get links from high quality websites.

The obvious way to get your message picked up by the media is to make sure that what you’re saying is genuinely useful, informative and news-worthy. Still, even if you have what you consider to be an earth-shattering message that everyone will want to hear, that doesn’t guarantee that journalists will agree with you.

And so, it seems, there is a second way, to perhaps take the route well-travelled and offer readers some light entertainment to brighten their day. After all, what could be better than connecting your brand in people’s brains with a wry smile?

In summary, the lesson we’ve taken home from this is (to plagiarise an old saying), if you don’t have anything ground-breaking to say, at least say something funny.

What content marketing campaigns have you found to be unexpectedly successful?

Christian Arno

Published 20 June, 2011 by Christian Arno

Christian Arno is Founder and Managing Director of Lingo24 and a contributor to Econsultancy. He can also be found on Twitter

23 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Claire Fuller

I believe one of the BBC's mission statements used to be to entertain, and then inform. There's no point in telling someone something until you've got their attention. And it absolutely applies to content marketing too.

about 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"sometimes the simplest ideas are the best"

Very true. Business owners and marketers know their company inside and out, something our customers can't claim. Sometimes the information we read and think "well, duh" is actually new and useful for our audiences. We have to put ourselves in their place and write what we would want to learn about if we didn't know anything.

about 5 years ago

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Nick Armstead, SEO + PPC Consultant at Orantec

Top whatevers, guides, short stories, their all very good for getting backlinks and being thrown around the internet. People like short chunks of information they can take in, so things structured in lists or bullet points are always good. No reason you cant structure general content in the same manner too.

about 5 years ago

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