Thursday, March 20, 2014

What is the cure for the content shock?

In January, Mark Schaefer published an article that received lots of attention: "Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy". When most companies are just getting used to the concept that telling convincing and compelling stories is a great way to market products, Schaefer already predicts its demise.

Is the content shock real?

Are we inundated with content? Sure! Just look at the amounts of online content produced / uploaded each day. More and more different channels are trying to reach us, through more and more types of content.
But this is not a new phenomenon. Consumers are battling the information overload since the rise of mass media. This is why the born digital generation is getting better and better at curation.

Is the end of content marketing in sight?

Schaefer certainly has a point that a mass adoption of content marketing will dilute the effects of writing content. It will be harder for companies to reach consumers with just any blurb of content, where eventually the costs of this way of marketing will have to be weighed against the expected income (just like any other type of marketing). On the consumer side it will be harder and harder to digest all this content and filter out useful content from the increasing background noise.
But will this end most of content marketing? Schaefer himself looks at the economics and predicts that the costs of being relevant to your consumers will rise to levels which are unacceptable to most companies.

He certainly makes a good point. With the barrage of information, entering markets will get harder. And interesting marketing channels like video, audio and infographs are expensive compared to text.
The effort will be to create great content; relevant content. And where great content is no guarantee for success, creating mediocre content will increasingly be moot. And yes: great content comes at a price, but distributing your ad on TV or print was expensive as well. So pay less for the channel and more for the content. Convince yourself that your message is relevant to your customers before investing in creating it.

As Robert Rose said “Great content wins. End of story.” Ask any commercial publisher!

It is hard on the consumers as well

With the barrage of content, it is hard on the customer as well. But everyone will still search their personal net before their Zero Moment of Truth. What is the best digital camera? To which school should I send my kids?
So the only way for the consumer to react to the content shock and keep finding the true gems that are out there somewhere is by curation. Customers are increasingly improving their personal filters to battle lame advertisements.
Curation tools – like spam- and virus filters – are probably always lagging on the object they want conquer. So what can you use to curate your information streams?

  • Niche sites that focus on quality over quantity. I myself am a fan of a few sites on Content Strategy. Their Hit over Miss Ratio is that good, that I read anything that is posted there.
  • Human curated groups. For instance LinkedIn Groups offers some great possibilities.
  • Feedly tells me what’s posted on the important sites, but also what the impact of this new is
  • There are some Authorative sites, which I will have to trust, just because they are the biggest
  • Follow influencers on Twitter, use other tools like Flipboard etc.

So there is the answer to you Content Marketeers: Throw your best content at us! Relevant ones will always stick, but don’t expect to be a monopolist.

The original blog-thread:

  1. Mark Schaefer: Content Shock
  2. Reaction from the Content Marketing Institute
  3. Reaction from Businesses Grow
  4. Reaction from Copy Blogger
  5. Tips from the Content Marketing Institute

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