It’s that deep sigh you give when you look to your left. And then you look to your right. And then you realize that you aren’t running the race with just one or two competitors anymore.
The little secret you had, the trendy, forward-thinking nugget of marketing wisdom you were using to slice and dice your competition is now considered “best practice,” which means everyone is doing it.
Content marketing seems to be everywhere. Every business is throwing another video, infographic, photo or semi-humorous joke online. Bloggers keep churning out content. And maybe, just maybe, the internet is going to blow.
Image Source: ShutterStock.com
Maybe it’s a joke to some, but the theory of “content marketing shock” has just enough juice to keep marketers concerned at the very least.
Mark Schaefer, a fantastic marketing blogger/author/podcaster is legitimately concerned about the volume of content production tipping the scales and making content highly perishable as a marketing strategy. Even those who genuinely care about marketing are feeling the heat.
In a series of posts at his highly popular Grow blog, Mark theorizes that a reckoning is coming, a point where the demand of content is met with an overwhelming supply of words being shoved in front of a consumer’s face. With so much content available, how effective can it truly be?
Now here’s the rub…
If content creators can’t be as effective as before, it becomes more expensive for them to produce it. This creates a big problem for companies and here’s why:
- The way companies used to market doesn’t work in the new internet/social media/multi-media age, and they are desperately searching for alternatives.
- Content marketing works for them, and it shows.
- Content marketing is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of marketing, so they figure they can jump into the race and win without even trying.
You can understand why. During the last couple of years, content marketing has been very effective. So much so that almost nobody wanted to bother with the question of how long this could last. How long could content marketing affect your SEO? How long before the consumer audience becomes hip to the content marketing game?
Instead, brands are ramping up. More content. More posts on Facebook. More blog posts. More photos. More retweets. More interviews. More infographics.
If content really is king and so many of us are producing it, who is actually going to have time to read all of this stuff?
There is some content being produced that is simply stellar; it’s smart, creative and effective at the same time. Unfortunately, there is the “fast food” content that doesn’t really do anything. A bunch of words, mashed together quickly for the sake of producing content.
In my opinion, a change is coming. But I don’t believe that content marketing will wilt and die. Brilliant as Schaefer’s theory is, there are several holes, and finding a solution for the future is easier than you think.
So how do we keep this content shock theory from becoming a reality?
Check the True Source of Your Fear of Content Shock.
Is so much of the concern surrounding content shock about people not reading your content or the ease with which you can connect with your readers?
Let’s face it, the internet has made it easier to put your message in front of your target audience. But with so much content being produced, the “easy results” may dwindle. And there’s this niggling thought at the back of your mind that says, “Maybe your content isn’t as good as you think it is.”
Ultimately, if content shock is true, it’s not that content marketing will be any less effective as much as it will be more challenging to go up against your competition—who is, like you, working hard to improve their content marketing game.
Embrace Personal before Publishing
In Schaefer’s blog post series he mentions that we (bloggers, content marketers, companies, etc.) need to be more human if we want to survive. “Publish or Perish” might not be the answer any more. Perhaps its “Personalize or Perish.”
“In our increasingly impersonal society, human contact is a highly valuable currency.”
The Internet can be a cold and technical place. But savvy companies everywhere are using it to maintain and/or form personal relationships.
By deploying the different channels the Web offers (blogs, videos, Skype, forums, social media, etc.), we build up solid networks of business associates, Internet-colleagues, customers and audiences who complement our real-life relationships.
However, there is a fine line between being personal and too personal. Maybe it’s not a great idea to say what you had for dinner last night (unless it’s important to your brand). But it is critical that you genuinely present yourself as a human being.
Being “human” on the internet includes:
- Personal and instant replies to blog comments, emails and social interactions
- Semi-personal Twitter posts highlighting your product/service benefits
- Asking questions that start conversations and moderating discussions
- Organizing online contests and giveaways
Many times it’s not what is being published but who is doing the publishing. You can survive content shock by developing a deep relationship with people who know you, trust you and appreciate your awesome content.
In other words, conversation is more important than aimless content.
Case in point: You’d rip open a personal letter in the mail, while a common sales offer from your local dealership likely ends up unopened in the trash can. Personal is indeed better.
Keep It Relevant, Offer Solutions
When content success requires more than just showing up to the game, you can still win. You just might want to lace up those sneakers and stretch before you step on the track.
To make your content “better” and more polished, consider the approach often advocated by Ann Handley of MarketingProfs and Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute: Take the time to address the foundation of your strategy.
Understand why you’re creating content, what you want to say, and to whom.
While the level of sophistication in marketing has changed, human needs and desires are still just as strong as they were many years ago. People still seek pleasure, consumers still have pain, there’s still a desire to solve the problems in their lives.
Getting personal with them while communicating your solution will keep you calm in a world of content panic. Most likely, it will also help you win the race.
About the Author: Hilary Smith hales from Austin, TX, but now works her magic in Chicago, IL. She is a technology enthusiast who loves social media. Connect with her on Google+.