What’s YOUR Vote on “Content Shock”?

By | January 16, 2014

Writing at businesgrow.com on January 6, influential blogger Mark Schaefer postulated that content marketers are in for Content Shock, “the merging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”

In other words, too much to read and not enough time. But is Schaefer right?

On January 7, Christopher Penn took on the topic in his shiftcomm.com response. “Mark makes the point that deep pockets will win the content marketing battle, to the extent that it can be won, and he’s correct. Any content marketing effort absolutely must have paid media behind it to help it grow. The days of “build it and they will come” are long, long gone.”

Not everybody who commented at Mark’s post agreed, of course. Brian Clark, founder and owner of copyblogger pointed out that “If content (something people want) is doomed, then advertising (something people allegedly don’t want) should already be dead … you raise a valid issue Mark, but have come to a sensationalist and untenable conclusion.”

Joe Pulizzi added, “This is where so many brands go wrong…they think they need a lot of readers/engagers to be successful with their content marketing. Sometimes, it only takes one (some content programs are geared toward just one company, or even, one individual). That is why this thing is so powerful.”

Industry legend Shel Holtz blogged “Six Reasons There Will Be No Content Shock,” including [my favorite] “We are mainly consumers of niche content.” Shel’s right. All that content out there has nothing to do with us. We choose what we read and always have.

A  host of other blog commentators had opinions about Schaefer’s posit, too. A few even had solutions.

1. Be local and give back.
2. Build and connect with a “tribe.”
3. Listen more than tell; connect at a deeper level.
4. View “content” as a transition, not a destination.
5. Interact more with the audiences you already have.
6. Master engagement, customer service, and rapid response.

My favorite resolution is the discovery and application of better filters to drown out the noise we don’t want. Moreover, as times/technology/innovations unfold, new content will continue you to be in demand. After all, if content marketers don’t, who will explain and analyze what’s happening now? As for old content, it will, over time, just sit there, unnoticed, someplace in the digital archives, replaced by the fresh content we do want.

That’s why I’m not worried about content fatigue. How about you?

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7 thoughts on “What’s YOUR Vote on “Content Shock”?

  1. Heidi Tolliver-Walker

    In addition to there being too much content — more than can be consumed — there is also a lot of the same content. My inbox is always full of newsletters that rehash and repost the same stories or versions of the same stories and the same research over and over again. Part of the content clutter is repetition.

    More and more, I’m being asked to write blog content for printers. When I do, I always, always, always try to get the company to build in time for me to interview its executives to get their unique company perspective, not the generic industry perspective. There is no reason to fill a printer’s blog with content their customers can get everywhere else. Post something unique, different, that your customers can only get from YOUR blog.

    Tell me about a problem you solved this week. Give me a great campaign you developed. Tell me the top 3 challenges you see with certain types of jobs. Tell me what comes across YOUR desk that’s relevant to YOUR company and YOUR customers. That’s what will keep customers reading your blog as opposed to one of the millions of others they have access to.

  2. Nancy Scott

    Your comment reflects your professionalism, Heidi. Content providers like you are always in demand. Thanks for letting readers know how a pro works!

  3. Patrick Whelan

    The argument that there is too much content is no different than people complaining that there is too much advertising. It didn’t result in less advertising. Just the opposite but with greater focus on becoming better and more effective at it.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker

    It also makes the people with unique content stand out. Lots of “industry” newsletters contain general business and non-industry-specific stories you can see anywhere. Patrick’s comments are particularly relevant because Great Reach’s content IS industry-specific and new with every issue. Granted this is talking from the inside (since I write most of Patrick’s content these days), but I also know from experience what is and isn’t out there. The need for content in this industry is tremendous, but printers need to be very careful where they get it. Just pouring content — any content — into a newsletter or email template isn’t going to do the trick. It has to be fresh, industry-specific content that actually meets a need and offers genuine value to the person reading it. That’s harder to come by.

  5. Katherine

    I agree with Patrick.

    I do believe Mark made a valid point about deep pockets. But content marketing also requires creative talent. That’s I think in many ways more important than a big budget. I speak from personal experience when I say that content is very labor intensive, which means many of the noisy voices will eventually silence themselves because they can’t keep up with the production demands.

  6. Nancy Scott

    Katherine, you’ve made an excellent point in saying “noisy voices will eventually silence themselves because they can’t keep up with the production demands.” I’ve seen many organizations start and then abandon blogs. If you check websites, you’ll find that a good percentage are posting far less frequently than when they started a couple years ago. Generating worthwhile content requires not only the grind of commitment, but also keeping up with trends and having an original thought about what’s happening. I’ll definitely give Mark his chops for that … agree or disagree, Mark Schaefer always has something to say and he’s consistently delivered since he started blogging and tweeting in 2009. When Junta Joe Pulizzi launched the Content Marketing Institute in, I think it was, early 2010, the whole idea was fresh — and everybody jumped on it. That’s why we’ve had so MUCH more content in 2013. What I’ve noticed in the past six months, though, is less junk and more quality as the quick-hitters drop by the wayside. It seems to me self-selection has already begun.

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