Is Content Shock Real?

Ever since Mark Schaefer coined the term “Content Shock,” along with the concept behind it, we’ve been getting steady news of its ever-increasing creep. Can’t get search traffic or engagement on your articles? It must be content shock, so there’s nothing you can do…

Or is there? I’m not so sure. That’s why today I want to take a look at the issues surrounding content shock, and what it means for marketers.

What is Content Shock?

If you haven’t heard of it before, or only know the term vaguely, it’s a simple notion: since more and more businesses and individuals are trying to attract traffic to their websites, web content is being produced at an exponential rate. That, in turn, overloads searchers and marketers alike, leading to a situation where content is essentially meaningless and things like search traffic or social media shares become random.

Content shock is simply another way of saying that there's too much stuff on the web, and people are having a hard time sifting through it. So, it’s possible that your inbound marketing campaigns won’t be as effective as you’d like them to be, simply because so many people are trying to do the same things with their articles and ideas. Finding it is tougher.

The theory behind content shock stipulates that we’ll reach a certain point where there will barely be any point in publishing content at all - but, does that really reflect the reality of what we are seeing on the web?

Why Content Shock Both is and Isn’t Real

In my view, there's some truth to the Mark’s thoughts around content shock. It’s real in the sense that the Internet is crowded and there's a ton of new content being published every day. And, it’s not a coming phenomenon, but one that has already arrived. With new blog posts, articles, and social updates, and online videos being produced every second, a glut of new ideas isn’t on the horizon, but a day-to-day reality.

And yet, I can easily and confidently tell you that content shock is largely a myth, as well. That’s because content – and especially great content – doesn’t just have value, I believe that it has more value than ever.

Both of those statements can be true at the same time because of the way content works, and how it's created and promoted. It’s certainly accurate to say that producing content doesn’t give you the same immediate and reliable boost it once did. However, it’s also accurate to point out that great content will take you everywhere, if only you let it.

Using Persona-Driven Content to Attract Attention

The problem with most content is that it’s generic and not valuable to readers. It’s written for a wide audience, and as such, it isn’t particularly specific, useful, or applicable to any individual (or even any group of individuals).

Within that context, it shouldn’t be surprising that searchers and customers are having a hard time sifting through the various pieces of ‘kinda similar’ content they find online. When everything feels like it’s being written for everyone, no particular page or idea stands out.

Smart marketers, however, navigate this challenge by creating content based on key buyer and influencer personas. They recognize that general information and ideas are everywhere, and work to give readers something that’s specifically applicable to them and their specific situations. In doing so, they may not be able to create ideas that are “viral” in the sense of attracting enormous of views, but they do connect with fans, followers and connections in a more meaningful way.

By simply knowing who your audience is, and what they want from you, you can easily create shock-proof articles and ideas that bring you traffic (and engagement) on a consistent basis. Once you recognize that good content is about quality and niche targeting, instead of volume, you stop being lumped in with all of your competitors.

The Sky Isn’t Falling Around Content

I’m not the only one who has noticed the truth behind content shock. In fact, much of this post was inspired by some brilliant thoughts posted by Eli Fennell. What we have in common, besides this belief, is experience producing insightful articles written to help people, not attract clicks. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Despite what a lot of gurus, business advisers, and internet celebrities might tell you, the days of good content marketing aren’t over. If anything, changes to Google and social engagement formulas mean great content can help you now more than ever before. It’s only the average (and worst) content that’s hitting the virtual dustbin.

What has changed is the realization that publishing junk, or generic thoughts, just isn’t all that useful – either to yourself or anyone else. The truth about content shock is that it’s a myth; but only to the people posting the kinds of articles that aren’t valuable enough to stand out above the rest. Yes, that's a cue to remind you to make yours the most valuable ever.

This post originally appeared on the Kayak Online Marketing blog

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