Now that content marketing has earned Bright Shiny Object status, what does it mean for the how vendors and marketers think about content marketing as a category? Rebecca Lieb discussed the seeming glut of technology choices and the implications thereof in a piece for iMedia Connection last week:
In the post, Lieb lightly scolded vendors for claiming to do content marketing when, in fact, their actual product and business are focused elsewhere:
Now all those email companies, search vendors, video providers, and so on down the line are — you guessed it — content marketing solutions. Even one of the largest social media platforms has begun a major marketing initiative for its content marketing product.
Which, for us, is fine. Even as a company whose focus is content marketing, we don’t mind if other companies are interested in the category — it’s a big tent. What I thought was more interesting in the post, though, was Lieb’s take on how marketers should think about content marketing as a channel:
A couple of years ago, I interviewed more than 50 Fortune 500 marketers on the content marketing channels they were using. One cited search. Zero cited email. (Ha! As if!)
Email is a container for content. Search has nothing to find if there isn’t any content. Ads are filled with content — it’s just called “creative” in that channel. There simply is no marketing without content.
That is, content marketing might be a recently coined label, but “content” lives in pretty much every marketing channel. It’s the creative that delivers your message, and whether it’s the content of an email, an infographic, a blog post, or the creative on a billboard, or a sponsored story in your Facebook News Feed.
Or, as we’re given to saying, your content is the ad. And it’s living in more places than ever.
We’re excited to announce some new ways to find great content in your Rallydeck with keywords and categories.
With keywords, we’ve expanded the universe of content sources that we search when you enter keywords and select “Include trending stories from the web on these keywords.” Instead of generic news queries, we’re now searching our own database of publicly available publisher news feeds. What does that mean for your Rallydeck? More results on the topics you care about from a wider array of sources.
We’ve also added a new collection of categories to our archive. For B2B marketers, we have new categories on Health Care, Banking, Manufacturing and Retail. We’ve also add some fun categories on Data-Driven Journalism, Maps, Infographics and GIFs. We’re adding more every week, so if you have a request, definitely get in touch with us.
Hey everybody, stop what you’re doing. Are you writing a blog post? Save as draft. Composing a Tweet? Cancel. Working on a Slideshare? Exit.
Turns out that with every piece of content we all create, we’re contributing to a coming catastrophe: The Content Shock.
You’ve heard about the Content Shock, right? It’s the hypothesis that says marketers (and others) are making too much content and overwhelming consumers with it; from phrase-coiner Mark Schaefer:
This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock. In a situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat, we would predict that individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content.
Apocalyptic, right? Might as well pack up and go home? Here’s what I think:
There is no such thing as a Content Shock.
That is, there is no impending event or change that is significantly altering the economics of attention in a way that is any different from the ongoing challenges for any marketer to earn the attention of their audience. Let’s look at the Content Shock arguments one at a time:
Demand Might Be Finite In Aggregate, But Isn’t Close To Being Satisfied
The reductive argument about there only being so many hours in a day makes sense for a moment, though certainly content consumption trends in new places (all of us staring at our phones all the time) argue against it for the near future. But even if we assume every person is staring at a screen for the maximum amount of time they’ll stare at a screen, we can’t presuppose they’re all finding what they want or need. I’m more than willing to bet that we have a lot of room to grow in efficiently connecting consumer demand to supply in content.
Competition May Drive Up Prices In Established Media, But New Media Models Will Continue To Emerge
There’s an argument that all this media creation will make it impossible for a small player with a small budget to compete with well-financed competitors for attention. But that just doesn’t sound like the world we’ve been living in for the past 15 years. A static universe of media consumption dominated by a few players? Sure, there’s still a Google, but there didn’t used to be a Facebook or a Twitter. And who knows what’s next. I’m willing to bet that new models of content discovery and consumption will continue to emerge, and that there will be opportunities for marketers to earn attention there.
You’re Looking At The Wrong Competitive Set
It’s very easy to focus on the marketers-creating-content angle if you’re a marketer who creates content. But, um, that feels a little navel-gazey, no? Like something that marketers who spend too much time tweeting at other marketers might think? It’s a big world. Lots of people are creating content: publishers, everyday folks, and brands too. That’s not going to slow down. But saying that this has some sort of differential impact on marketers presupposes that marketers are churning out things that people don’t want to see (as opposed to interesting and valuable things that will earn attention).
The rules of content marketing are the same as they’ve always been. Filler gets ignored, so create quality content. Pay attention to where your audience is consuming information. Be relevant. Have a point of view. And, uh, don’t sweat The Content Shock.
Hey there! Great to connect, feel like we haven’t been hanging out so much lately, and, well, I felt like I needed to come clean with you a bit. I know this is a little awkward, but I have a request for you and I hope you’ll hear me out.
It’s about the News Feed.
First, let me start by saying that I know you work really hard to make sure that I have great stuff in my News Feed that I’ll want to click and share and do all sorts of #amazeballs social engagement things with. You measure every click and view of every item that you show me (and everyone else) to figure out what’s going to be best for me. You know that I follow a few publishers on your network, and you make sure I see their popular posts. You make sure I don’t miss career moves and new babies. You’ve asked me for feedback and I’ve given it to you, asking you to hide posts from certain folks and even taking the time to tell you why.
I really appreciate all of that. I do. I know you have all sorts of smart folks having meetings and writing things on whiteboards about this all day long. I’m sure they’re doing a bang-up job. And I certainly don’t have any beef with algorithms making decisions about what I should and shouldn’t see; you know, pot, kettle, all that.
The problem is that, lately, I think we both may have run out of ideas. It feels like I’m seeing the same sorts of things from the same people every time I log in; if I’m friends with hundreds of people and like all sorts of things, why don’t I ever see them? Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m starting to get a little bored.
Look, I admit that I may have overdone it with the feedback and left you in a spot where you only feel like you can recommend a few of the same things to me. I’m just as much to blame here as you are — I was the one who clicked on those stories and liked those photos and gave you all that feedback. It’s not you, it’s me.
But I think it’s time to freshen things up a bit. So I’ve got an idea: how about you give me a reset button for my News Feed. That is, I push a button and you forget everything I’ve ever clicked/ liked/ commented/ shared before. (I mean, I know you won’t actually forget, that’s not how you roll, but for the purposes of my News Feed, you agree to ignore it all.) If I’m friends with all these people and like all these different companies and publishers, give me a shot to check them out again. I’m not saying you can’t try to make recommendations for me again (and I’m cool with the ads, no worries there), I’m just saying that maybe it’s time for us to ditch our baggage and start fresh.
What do you think? You up for starting over?
Oh, and if you want to bury the Reset Button three menus deep in some dark corner of the site, that’s cool too. Baby steps.