Are Your Business Marketing Efforts Causing Content Shock?
2014 is well underway.
As a business, you are working hard trying to sell your product or service. You’re also trying to market it as well.
You understand all too well how hard it is to do both.
If you are trying to market your product or service in the online marketplace, you also recognize the constant struggle to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends.
You might be scanning the social media trends and educating yourself on how to best promote your brand in the online marketplace.
This is all on top of what content you want to create, where to distribute it and how to best track and report the data you might be receiving in order to tweak your plans and processes.
Every once in a while, you might come across an article that scares you, or even makes you wonder whether everything you are doing is all worthwhile.
A few weeks ago, Mark Schaefer, noted marketing and social media writer published a blog that has ruffled feathers, caused a few ripples in the social media blogging pond and has downright scared a few marketers into their corner until the smoke blows over.
As a small- or medium-sized business owner, you might want to listen to what he has to say.
Or you might not.
The article, called Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy has made many marketers take stock in their content marketing program and whether or not all this shock and awe is affecting their bottom line more than they previously thought.
Schaefer wonders if the current state of content marketing influx is too much for your consumer?
Before addressing the article, though, there are four things you might want to remember about inbound marketing as a whole:
1. INBOUND IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING
Since the inbound process is so highly linked to social, the game is constantly changing.
Marketing managers are hard-pressed to play the game well, plan strategically, and shoot on the fly.
As far as trends are concerned, your content is still very relevant and important to your marketing plan.
In fact, some say it is still the heart and soul of inbound.
However, there are constantly new factors to consider, new things to learn, new tools to use, as well as interesting articles to read that get you riled up about playing the marketing game.
So, are we all suffering from CONTENT SHOCK, or is it just one bloggers ingenious way of getting a rise in his website engagement?
Well, @markwschaefer, you rock, and you have rocked us all – at least momentarily.
2. THE RISE OF THE CONTENT FILTER
Google and their growing zoo of algorithm changes is at it again.
The Googlerithm is creating search responses that are becoming more highly individualized and filtered to your distinct tastes and preferences.
The more a person is online, makes comments on Facebook, engages in LinkedIn circles, or pins a recipe on their Pinterest page, the more focused Google can make their search queries.
Not only is it a little scary, but it’s also amazing. If your brand doesn’t match what they are cooking, then you are fried.
Then there are even more advanced filtering applications showing up out there.
Zite, is a site that analyzes millions of articles and other types of content every day from the top influencers on the web.
They are also gaining a lot of popularity for folks who want to put a boundary on the tons of information they are receiving every day from the web.
The Zite platform custom tailors and then delivers you articles based on your selections. When you give one of your chosen articles a thumb’s up, you can further filter the types of information you get.
When it comes to information overload, Zite is the perfect way to make sure you get exactly what you want and send the other content packing.
Your target audience could very well be trying to stop your content from arriving.
But as a business owner, you are clever enough to get around rithm’s and zite’s.
3. LOWER ORGANIC FEED PLACEMENT
The social media king, Facebook has taken years to do it, but the appearance of brands in social feeds has dropped from 20% just a few years ago to less than 2% today.
The content that you are sending out to individuals who have followed and liked your brand is being hunted down and taken out of feeds in order to capitalize on Facebook’s efforts to get you to advertise.
It is getting harder than ever as a business to get your content seen on platforms like Facebook.
Twitter is not far behind.
Instead of allowing your business in organic feeds, Facebook wants you to pay for placement.
4. OUR CAPACITY TO CONSUME
Schaefer’s article has one fatal flaw.
That is our desire, as humans, to consume information.
In another article written after his CONTENT SHOCK blog post, Mr. Schaefer takes a few steps back.
He points out that as a pack of information hungry bipeds, we are growing in our ability to digest raw information.
From reading books before 1900, to the introduction of film, radio and television in the mid-20th century, to the introduction of gaming in the ‘80’s and eventually the internet in the 1990’s, the human capacity to feed on the data we receive has risen drastically
In fact, we have gone from a mere 10 hours a week of consumption to nearly 80 hours a week per person, and the numbers are increasing.
Are we getting smarter? Or are you, the business marketer getting smarter about how you send out information?
SO HERE IT IS
Mark Schaefer, an advocate and writer about online marketing and social media recently put out this gloom and doom blog article has started some buzz about just how important it is to have high quality content.
The buzz created more than 250 blog articles just in response to his claim that Content Shock could change the way marketers will be creating and distributing their content.
In his words:
"Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it."
He claims that Content Shock will result in:
- The content marketing game being won by those with the deepest pockets
- Entry barriers being formed that are too high for new business
- Economic costs becoming too high for most content creators to compete, therefore running most of them out of the online marketing game
In the article, Schaefer suggests that the amount of content out there on the internet is so vast that it has overtaken the online visitor’s ability to consume it.
The supply of content has far exceeded the demand for reading it and therefore the value of our blog efforts has become virtually zero, unless, as marketers, we are willing to pay to have our information consumed.
He even suggests that this is one reason why Facebook has greatly reduced the number of business related posts that show up in an individual’s feed.
THE FALL OUT
If what Schaefer says is completely true (because you know that everything you read on the internet is gospel), you are going to have to create significantly better content in order to compete.
Content is going to take more time, and therefore more money to participate.
There are very few marketers out there who aren’t facing the same problem.
If you don’t want to pay to have your content read, you’re screwed
Even the most highly niched markets are seeing problems.
Instead of wishing the problem away, it’s time to break out your entrepreneurial hats and do a little brainstorming on what to do to combat Content Shock in the coming months, even years of online marketing.
WHAT WILL CONSTITUTE QUALITY CONTENT IN THE FUTURE?
For now, quality content isn’t just a good article on your website blog.
Schaefer calls is a “complex cocktail” of Website Optimization:
- Individual Author Authority
- Website Authority
- Social Signals
- Distribution Tactics
- Promotional Efforts
- Brand Recognition
- Keyword Strategies
- Buyer Personas
- Personalized Search
- Engine Histories
- Localized Relevance
And this is the cocktail being served up for businesses that have had an online presence for a while.
If you are a new business trying to break in to the content creation market, keeping up with each facet of this convoluted mechanism can be daunting.
As for the future, read on.
WHERE THERE’S HYPE, THERE’S HOPE
In a very well written rebuttal by Marcus Sheridan, known by many as The Sales Lion, the outlook isn’t so dismal.
In fact, if you are doing your homework, your information is going to get found because, “Consumers, from now until the end of the world, will find the time to research that which is important to them.” (See point four above – the human ability to consume more information)
That doesn’t mean that your content is automatically going to float to the top of the rankings heap, but if mixed well, and added with a few new tricks, it looks like you are going to be okay.
WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS WITH THE DEEP POCKETS?
When the subject of the companies with the deepest pockets win comes up, Sheridan’s quip “there are a lot of rich, stupid companies out there” should make you feel a little better.
Again, riding on Sheridan’s previous quote, from now until the end of the world, there is always going to be someone out there who is more clever, smarter and able to think more outside-the-box than the other guy.
Let’s just hope that’s you.
AND THE ENTRY BARRIER CRAP?
Sheridan also says that there is no real barrier to entry when it comes to content.
It’s the other components to the online marketing cocktail that make it less palatable.
For search engines the longer a website has been around the deeper their credibility goes.
They also give more rank for links and shares and other social signals that simply take time to establish.
It certainly isn’t impossible.
He also raises a good point when he says that people don’t stop reading content because they are overwhelmed.
They stop reading it because things change, people change, priorities change.
The new mom’s toddler turns 5 and she no longer needs to read content about a newborn.
The rising executive gets a promotion and no longer reads the blog about getting ahead – he’s where he wants to be.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RISING ECONOMIC IMPACT?
Schaefer pointed out in his Content Shock article that content marketers could eventually be driven out of business due to the fact that there is so much content.
The point should be made that “there is so much mediocre content”.
If your content is good, has value to your audience and is optimized for search engines, you should be in good shape.
KEY TAKE-AWAYS FROM ALL THIS CONTENT SHOCK AND AWE?
As an entrepreneur, there is only one reason that you go out of business, and that is because you don’t know how to run a business.
It has nothing to do with your content.
Remember, you are not writing content for yourself.
Hell, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while.
Your content, from an inbound marketing standpoint, is designed to speak to the needs, wants, desires and to answer the questions of your highly targeted buyer persona.
As long as you keep creating and circulating valuable content, the need for it will not go away.
Hell, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while.
9 WEAPONS TO COMBAT CONTENT SHOCK
1. Stick with your Niche
If you already have a presence on the web, and are already creating content for a niched audience, you are in good shape.
Find trending topics that relate to your product or service and speak to your audience and exploit the heck out of it.
3. Capitalize on the Concept of Social Proof
Everyone else is doing it – so will your audience.
There are plenty of trends, fads and other ideas out there that you can capitalize on that will encite your audience to jump in on, just because their friends are doing it.
4. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em Join ‘Em
Google’s critics and fans have different opinions about what works best to catch their algorithm on a good day. H1’s, H2’s, Meta tags and SEO all seem to be working and then BAM: Out comes another animal. Panda’s, Hummingbirds.
The next one will probably be called the Mammoth.
One thing that most marketers can agree on is that writing in-depth content that is well-researched and over 1200 words hits Google right in the sweet spot (at this point in time).
The catch here is that the number keeps rising.
Short and sweet posts of about 500 or 600 words don’t seem to be cutting the mustard any more.
5. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
Right now it's Content Shock. Tomorrow our eyes will fall out from reading too much of it.
Good content isn’t going to make it into the search stream anymore.
It has got to be “knock their socks off, home run, I think I just snorted” material.
A great way to do that is to make your audience laugh once in a while.
6. Think About Some Sort of Paid Reach Campaign
Facebook has all but taken brands out of their feeds.
Now, less than 2% are reaching an individuals feed. Twitter is heading in the same direction.
Organic searches on their own are not getting the results they used to.
For the most popular social platforms in the world, a marketer is simply going to have to put out a little bit of cash for sponsored posts in order to get seen and heard.
It doesn’t have to drain your bank account, nor do you have to completely re-arrange your marketing budget to do so.
Companies who want to get noticed on the larger platforms in the future are going to have to advertise in some way in order to get placement on feeds.
It is just a part of the changing environment we work in. Remember when you used to think about what color your magazine ad would be?
7. BE The Shock
If your audience is already overloaded with content anyway, then choose the path of least resistance.
Write so much freakin’ great content geared toward your target niche that they have no choice but to read it.
Be the one to put your audience into shock.
Blog twice a week, blog every day, blog twice a day, just be the business who blogs best and most.
8. Go Where Your Competition Hasn’t Yet
Have you considered YouTube yet?
Do you have a Google+ page?
Chances are that your competition hasn’t gone there yet.
Think about the other platforms you can go and make a splash on without breaking the bank.
9. Connect. Engage. Inspire.
They coined the term social media for a reason.
In the beginning it seemed more social and less media-like. Platforms and search engines are trying hard to keep it that way.
Keep things social by connecting with your audience as humans.
When humans engage with humans trust is built. It may take a little time, but it does come.
Consumers will buy from a brand they trust.
With trust in a brand, comes loyalty.
Consumers will keep coming back to a brand they are loyal to, even if there is a better deal out there, or possibly even a better product.
You can SEO, pay for posting, and get on every platform known to the online universe, but if you aren’t connecting with your audience, then your content doesn’t mean a thing.
When all is said and done, Content Shock may be nothing more than the latest media frenzy to light a fire under the marketing department's desk.
It may also be nothing less than your reason to stop reading all the articles on how to run the marketing side of your business, and let the professionals take over for a change.
What do you think about the idea of content shock? Is it hype, or does it have some validity?
Let us know in the comments.
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