If you’re an insider in the digital marketing world, you’ve surely already heard of the perils of content shock. If this is your first time hearing the term, let’s briefly review the concept. Back when the internet was in its infancy, users were starved for content. There wasn’t yet enough on the web to satisfy everyone’s desire to utilize this miraculous new discovery. As time moved forward, more and more content became available, but people also began spending more and more hours per day consuming this content. The story is that one day soon there will be a surplus of content to be consumed and most marketers will be left to die in the dusty annals of the internet.
Exactly How Much Content Can We Consume?
In the last few years the dawn of constant mobile connectivity has increased content consumption beyond anyone’s expectations. Consumption is ultimately a finite number, and there is only so much higher it can go until we start using our phones in our sleep, of course. Estimates vary, but current usage is pegged at anywhere from 8 hours to 17.8 hours of consumption per day! You wouldn’t think it could exceed the number of hours we are awake, but we are now multi-tasking and consuming multiple content streams simultaneously. I can watch TV while I shop for a new couch on my iPad and update my Facebook status from my phone. In this 2014 article, usage is pegged at 11 hours per day, which may be a conservative estimate considering the mobile explosion of the past two years.
Where is content creation targeted to go?
Whether consumption tops out at 15 or 18 hours per day and if content is conservatively estimated to DOUBLE every 9 to 24 months, then the threshold of content shock will soon be (or already is) upon us. From an economic standpoint we will have to start paying more for users to see the content we have created.
Of course, this is already happening. Any Facebook marketers out there know that their organic reach dropped significantly over the last few years as the platform has been flooded with content and the algorithms of Facebook have given priority to paid content in people’s newsfeeds. The solution here seems clear: spend more to be seen more. But it isn’t that simple.
Money Doesn't Buy Loyalty
While Mark Schaffer argues that deep pockets will win the content shock battle, there is another piece to the puzzle. The best piece of content is worthless if it isn’t correctly promoted. Conversely, a terrible piece of content with a huge budget isn’t going to do your business any favors. The key here is to continuously create high-quality, differentiated content and leverage your options to get that content out there. While it does cost money to stay on top, spending alone isn’t a panacea.
We recently talked about storytelling as a much more effective tool for brands than a traditional advertisement or blog post. Using well-crafted videos to tell your brand’s story can increase your engagement and have people sharing your video without even thinking it’s an ad. Utilizing emotion in your content creation is the most effective method of being shared, and more importantly remembered, through the Content Shock Apocalypse.
Millennials Follow People, Not Brands
Similarly, getting your content shared by powerful influencers in your space is a much more effective tool than just paying for Facebook reach. Despite what some doomsday prophecies may say, content marketing isn’t going anywhere. The businesses who come out on top will be ones that skillfully position themselves as trusted experts in their industries.
While most brands are still relying on traditional advertisements to reach their audience, millennials are buying into brands less and less than they are into people. Content that is shared and promoted by key influencers helps shape brand perceptions in a much more lasting light than a traditional advertisement. Building these relationships is hard work, but it pays off when an influencer wants to share your content. Then their thousands of followers see your brand as a trusted source of goods, services, or information.
Unique Content Takes the Cake
This one may seem obvious, and easier said than done, but it bears discussion. With the flooding of content on every topic, your business must be willing to put the time and money into a campaign to create something truly valuable to your potential customers. While finding something that hasn’t been done may seem like a tall order, there are new types of media and user experiences being developed all the time. Whether it’s virtual reality videos or interactive infographics, there is still room for any brand to do something original.
While the warnings of Content Shock aren’t unfounded, they don’t spell the end of content marketing for anyone. If you’re producing one regurgitated blog post a week and paying for some extra Facebook engagement, you aren’t going to come out on top. Without a doubt, the landscape of content creation has become a rockier one to navigate. Brands that don’t update their story, find an emotional connection with their audience, and find influencers to represent that image, will surely see their stories get lost in the content shock onslaught.