Thursday, May 4, 2017

Will You Survive the Contentpocalypse?

Content marketing intends to engage an audience with the objective of "driving profitable action." This definition, from the Content Marketing Institute, sounds like a traditional definition of marketing. So why the emphasis on this new phrase--content?

In 2017, more than ever, brands can market their products or services with unique, inventive content. And clearly, search engines prioritize sites that share a variety of content: not simply writing, but photography, digital art, infographs, cartoons, emojis, and much more. However, in today's online environment, the written word is still perceived to be the best way to increase your authority--and your search rankings.

Perhaps this is why content marketing is so popular with digital writers. As we noted in a recent post: Content Marketing has been deemed a hot trend by many writers, at least judging by the press (here, here, and here, too).

And yet, this popularity may prove to be the downfall of the content marketing craze.

In 2014, a full three years before the current content marketing craze, Mark Schaefer, a marketing consultant, writer, and teacher, wrote of content supply exceeding demand: "This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock."

Oh no, it's coming! CONTENT SHOCK!
At the time, Eric Enge, over at Moz, summarized Schaefer's view--as well as the opposition to his view--in his post: "A Clear Path for Marketers to Surviving Content Shock."

Citing a study that Moz performed with BuzzSumo, Enge noted "the great majority of content gets little material response: 75% showed no external links. Over 50% had 2 or fewer Facebook interactions (shares, likes, or comments)."

On the other hand, Enge wasn't ready to declare a "contentpocalypse."

"Content marketing is here to stay for one basic reason," Enge wrote. "It provides a way for business to connect and build trust with their prospective customers. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, people still need and want a relationship with the businesses from which they buy products and services."

Enge's path dovetailed with some of Schaefer's advice at the time, yet Enge's view was decidedly more rosy--and hopeful for smaller websites, whom Schaefer believed would be priced out of the equation. Over the past few years, however, Schaefer has come to believe (and promote) a certain notion of hope.

In a recent post revisiting his first content shock post, Schaefer affirmed the existence of content shock while defending his original position as relatively uncontroversial.

"My thinking on this topic was rational," Schaefer writes, "based on simple economics — supply and demand. Economic models aren’t controversial. They’re math. They just are. Economics only becomes controversial when it runs against the prevailing wisdom that more content is the answer, that the best content will always rise to the top, that the key to business profitability is the arc of your story."

Will You Survive the Contentpocalypse? 

Schaefer's point here is that the prevailing wisdom about the value of content is false. Content is only as valuable as its readership. The problem, or the challenge, as Schaefer attempts to re-frame--is not content creation but content distribution: "the economic value of content that is not seen and shared is zero."

This view dovetails with Jayson Demers, who wrote about content marketing for Forbes.

"If you’re a savvy marketer," DeMers writes, "you’re already actively engaging in content marketing. Unfortunately, many business owners are so focused on the creation of their content that they’re forgetting the marketing component of the equation. After all, what good is amazing content if nobody knows about it?"

The upshot? The contentpocalypse may be real, but you can survive the effects with a dynamic plan for creating and distributing your content.

Make Your Content Count

No doubt, the Internet offers a glut of content. We all have our ways of sorting through this glut--of discovering our preferred content. And, of course, the best content should be a viable means to "driving profitable action."

Content can be valuable--if the content drives profitable action. Yet this is clearly not the case for a majority of the writing on the Internet. The statistics noted by Enge above are discouraging. Frankly, most content receives little attention. Again: "75% showed no external links" and "over 50% had 2 or fewer Facebook interactions (shares, likes, or comments)."

Read: "Content, Shares, and Links: Insights from Analyzing 1 Million Articles."

So should you spend your time creating content?

Yes, of course. But with this advice, we add a strong caveat: Make your content count. 

If you're creating content with the explicit purpose of selling something (anything) and the content is not inspiring conversions, you're wasting time and money. You have a simple choice:

1. Stop creating content (a terrible choice)
2. Evolve to meet the demands of today's market (a spectacular choice)

Evolution requires amazing content and amazing marketing. Before you attempt to create content, make sure you write well. If you do not write well, hire someone to write well. If you do write well (or have the means to hire someone who writes well), start thinking about how to write content that counts. As Schaefer notes: "Consider the dramatic changes in content forms, distribution, and evolving roles of the social media platforms."


1. Three Keys to Writing SEO-Friendly Content That Inspires People to Share

2. Two Simple Questions to Inspire New Content

For a different perspective, read this recent article from Jayson Demers:

7 Reasons Your Content Isn't Getting Shared

Questions? Comments? Please drop a line below...

Content Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with great content, contact Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398. Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.