Is There Any Way to Overcome Content Shock?
At the beginning of this year, business consultant Mark Schaefer coined the term content shock to describe how the overwhelming amount of content being posted on the Internet every day could result in content marketing ending up as an unsustainable strategy for many companies.
However, as we've reported in the past, content marketing is currently the most popular trend in Internet marketing. It works because everyone wins: readers get great content and publishers get organic links. But does content shock mean that marketers should already be looking for a new strategy?
How Content Shock Works
Content shock is a very widely discussed topic. Hundreds of bloggers reacted to Schaefer's original post, some of which vehemently disagreed with his notions. However, it's difficult to deny his logic. Essentially, Schaefer puts content creation in an economic light. Time is money, right? Schaefer argues that by spending a certain amount of time creating quality content, an author is essentially "paying" users to read it. Five years ago, creating unique content that stood out from the pack was fairly "cheap" because the payoff from the content's exposure far outweighed the "cost" of generating it. There simply wasn't as much content to compete with. Now, however, with so much content being constantly published on the Internet, some businesses may eventually find the "cost" required to get noticed and be successful with content marketing simply won't be worth it.
Arguments against this theory state that quality content doesn't actually cost more to create. Some also state that great content will always "rise to the top" regardless of how much else is out there. While marketers go back and forth with these arguments, it doesn't change the fact that it's just getting harder and harder to get noticed. Tons of great content goes unseen every day. In fact, we've already seen content shock in action on social media. The organic reach that many companies have enjoyed on Facebook has dropped significantly as of late, largely due to the fact that Facebook has to pick and choose from an increasingly huge amount of content when displaying things in users' news feeds.
Rising Above Content Shock
There are, and will continue to be, many excellent ways of getting your content noticed and getting those all-important links. To rise above content shock, it might first be best to return to one of the most effective, age-old strategies: finding a niche market. If your company deals with an over-saturated market, it's time to start thinking about the most underserved set of consumers and readers in your industry. Being the first to appeal to a certain group of people and fill a unique need will no doubt bring you a lot of exposure through your content. Is there a question in your industry that hasn't been answered by anyone else? Generating some detailed, authoritative posts about it will likely get you some exposure.
Another thing that can make content stand out in the years to come is personality. Developing a brand is one thing, but with content and social media, it can be effective to have a unique, recognizable tone in your content that readers find appealing. Also, publishers may want to consider expanding into formats that aren't used by their competitors, such as video, podcasts, presentations, ebooks, or infographics (the old standby).
So, while content marketing is one of the best strategies at the moment, the concept of content shock proves that marketers must always be looking towards the future and coming up with new and creative ways to expand business. If anything, it's just going to become more and more important to extensively promote content - regardless of how great it might be.