Too much content, too little time?

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Mark Schaefer wrote a provocative piece in January 2014 on how there was an ever-increasing amount of content online, chasing a finite number of viewers with limited time and attention span. This, he felt, would generate a phenomenon he called ‘Content Shock’ where by having to spend more and more time and other resources to create richer and richer content, we would reach the point where it became unviable to carry on.

I challenge that assumption. He bases it on the claim that big advertisers with the deepest pockets can outspend all others and hog the available bandwidth. Whereas in my experience of content creation, it is where we work with brands to be creative and distinctive without breaking the bank, that we are most effective. The content that goes viral is not often produced by the biggest corporations – it’s usually by smaller, smarter, more niche operations, often ones that were not previously well known.

It brings to mind the story of the two guys who are faced by a marauding bear in the woods. One calmly starts to put on his trainers. The other says, “what are you doing – you can’t outrun a bear!” “I don’t have to” came the reply: “I only have to outrun you…”

In other words, in a world where 27 million pieces of content are published daily, it is the fleetest of foot, those who produce the most original thought pieces, that will attract the attention of the increasingly discriminating algorithms of the social networks and search engines. The rest will be lost.

Top Tips for content creation

So let’s assume that with our help, you are producing noteworthy content – blogs, articles, white papers etc.: what more can you do? The answer is, plenty. Such as:

  • Use video
  • Create attractive imagery (a picture paints a thousand words)
  • Draw infograms
  • Link to Google+ (the search engine likes this, unsurprisingly…)
  • Make it easy for people to give you social endorsements (retweets, likes, shares, pins etc.)
  • Cosy up to thought leaders in your sector: endorse them, invite them to guest blog, write interviews with them

In fact, Schaefer followed up his much-discussed article on content shock with a companion piece that discussed what to do about it. Less well-publicised, this made some important points that I and the team at Hannon Digital endorse.

Content Creation

Future Shock

These include the idea of finding your original niche, and then setting out with a ‘shock and awe’ strategy whereby you flood your market with so much essential content that you crowd out your competitors. But whatever you do, don’t stop. You have to keep at it, week after week. Don’t let the others recover.

Another is described as ‘newsjacking’ – you hook onto breaking news stories and ride the wave of publicity. It can be a dangerous practice: however there is a major trend for traditional news media to reduce their headcount and to rely more and more upon supplied stories for their content.

What Schaefer calls the ‘killer app’ is Keep It Human. Write personal, not corporate-speak pieces: and in that respect I hope that my thoughts come across as genuine and truly held – because they are.

Finally, with the lack of time that we all suffer from, articles need to be succinct and should not outstay their welcome. And they should end with a clear call to action. So it only remains to say, contact me at Hannon Digital and let’s talk about how to shock your competitors…