What is Content Shock?
First identified by consultant and self-branded “Twitter Tao” Mark Schaefer (who also hosts a very insightful and fun podcast), content shock is the imbalance of “supply and demand” on the internet.
Hundreds of thousands of blog posts are published online every week, not counting “micro-blogs” – tweets, Tumblr posts, Pinterest pins, even Facebook updates and countless Youtube videos. This mind blowing visualisation of what happens in just one second on the internet puts into context how much content is being created and consumed in 2015.
The supply of content on the internet has simply outgrown the finite demand of eyeballs on screens, which is when ‘content shock’ supposedly happens.
Content marketers now must fight tooth and nail for people’s attention in an age where attention spans are getting shorter and an inconceivable amount of content is being created on a daily basis.
This may all sound grim, but the faster content marketers accept the effects of content shock, the faster we can find solutions. We can bury our heads in the sand and write blog after blog, or we can face content shock in a positive way: it is a challenge to stand up, innovate and become better.
Here are three ways we are tackling content shock at Inbound:
- Take Advantage of Tools
A lot of developers have identified the issues faced by digital marketers, and our lives are made simpler through content marketing tools readily available on the internet.
Some of my favourite tools include:
- Ahrefs for competitor link analysis and working out the methods of leading brands.
- Buzzsumo for tracking what is already successful in a market or niche, and help generate ideas.
- Content marketing blogs for daily inspiration. One of my favourites, Sorry For Marketing, has just launched a daily email that features a great piece of branded content and the lesson that can be learned from it.
- Evernote to list down opportunities or ideas that I have out of the blue and organise my thoughts.
- Feedly is great for content curation and getting a sense of what is being created in any industry.
- Buffer for social scheduling and social analytics.
Using online tools will help simplify and define your content strategy. If the pressure is on, these tools will help you work smart. Before rushing and creating something you’ve picked from the air, your tools can help you map out your market, your audience, distribution opportunities and what you should create. Content shock is a scary monster, so view your tools as your weapons!
- Accept that Owned Media is Dead
“If you build it, they will come” used to be the main approach to content marketing. That Field of Dreams has become rather prickly underfoot, and sitting and waiting for the magic to happen will not work in a post-content shock world.
A combination of earned (through promotion), owned (hosted on your site) and paid media distribution will help destroy the content shock block. Combining these three is the best way to get traction on a campaign. You may want to combine just two of these, every campaign will have a different division of budget and efforts, but you will nearly always need all three to get the results you need.
You may get lucky and have a lovingly crafted piece of content explode on its own merit, but when all eyes are on you, do you want to count on luck? Sadly, there is a lot of incredible content on the internet that simply won’t be discovered because the internet is not a meritocracy. We live in a bizarre era where anything featuring the Minions from Despicable Me will become the most shared pieces of content on Facebook (I’m not kidding).
“Content is still king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the trousers”
Jonathan Perelman of Buzzfeed (formerly Google) said the above, and it perfectly captures the state of content marketing in 2015.
This feels like such a simple point, but a shocking amount of content marketers leave this part out (relying on the old Field of Dreams method). Don’t let your content lie in the dust, shout about it!
Distribution and promotion are vital, and not investing in promoting your content could lead you to becoming a victim of content shock, drowned out in the millions of voices on the web.
Use your social media audience, your email list, any relationships you have built. Email your content to your Mum, who probably has a blog these days. Distribute like your life depends on it!
- Do Not Automate Your Content Marketing
So much is asked of content. It has to be engaging, shareable, compelling, interesting, entertaining, and resonate with your chosen audience. This is no small feat, and one that struggles to be automated.
Digital marketing is one of the fastest evolving industries in history, and content marketing is still a baby. It grows, changes and learns every day. What worked for you last month may (read: probably will) be old hat next month. What you are doing, a million other people will be doing too. A great content marketer needs to use their smarts to scrap ahead.
One of the most powerful tools against content shock is originality and freshness (and Minions, apparently). Always look for new tools. Search for new distribution paths. Be the first person on the new social network. Invest time in researching and creating something amazing.
This all sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. I reserve half an hour every day (that is all it takes) to read up on what is happening, look at new developments in content, and see what content went viral yesterday. That half an hour will be the most important part of your day, keep notes on methods, ideas and inspiration to refer to the next time you have to create a strategy.
Use your tools like weapons, dedicate time to distribution and avoid automating your strategy, and content shock won’t seem so overwhelming anymore.