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The term “industry standard” is typically used in the context of explaining and validating why people and organizations do one thing or another.
“Why do you run billboards?”
“It’s industry standard. Everyone does it.”
Or something like that.
Related: The abundance of terrible billboards
The same responses are heard across other disciplines and are used to explain why something is being done. Now, there are some standards that are absolutely good and useful.
In content marketing, relevant and useful content should be an industry standard. We aren’t there, yet, since there’s still way too much bad content out there. Of course, we might never get there because it’s actually hard to measure what is relevant and useful to the reader.
Of course, industry standards are often used in things that are more measurable and not quite as fluid. What’s good website traffic? How many people should like my social media post, or how long should it take me to write a blog post? We can put standards around it, but there are many variables that can impact those things.
It’s ind of like the status quo. Sometimes, it’s good to have the status quo in place. And sometimes it’s not. The trick is to figure out when that time of questioning has arrived.
While it’s hard to offer hard and fast rules that always apply, it seems to me that industry standards (just like the status quo) should be challenged when there is potential to do things better. Of course, now we have to define what better means. Ha.
Industry standards – especially in fast-moving fields like content marketing, digital strategy and other similar disciplines – can be an ever-moving target. Even in more slow-moving industries, industry standard changes.
Instead of accepting that’s how it is, use it as a guide and opportunity for discussion.