For years we’ve heard that “Content is King,” and businesses around the world have been listening. The growth of social media has provided a platform for distribution of content like never before, and companies are churning out articles, blogs, white papers and other content at a record pace.
So what’s the problem?
Not too many years ago, content was produced by analysts, researchers, writers and journalists who spent a great deal of time developing well-written, thoughtful and provocative material. This material was published for readers who had a deep and genuine interest in the topic at hand.
Whether it was exploring new vendors and service offerings or researching competitors and market opportunities, consumers of this content could be reasonably confident that what they downloaded would be worth their time – and the price of their email address or contact information.
Not so much these days.
Cranking out content has become an end in itself.
For many content marketers, content is simply a sales hook designed to capture email addresses (aka leads). There is less concern about offering a quality product, as long as the goal of building that email list is achieved.
The result is a whole lot of noise.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to find quality content within the cacophony of the web.
People who are legitimately researching a topic must wade through mountains of low quality, bait-and-switch content in order to find a few gems of information. Even then, stats can be suspect and must be verified through multiple sources (and not just those that blindly quote the same data or “facts”).
I’m not saying there is no great content out there.
There is plenty of good content. The problem is finding it.
Short of paying big-ticket prices for analyst reports or subscribing to established media outlets, the average person doesn’t have a lot of options. Finding quality content can be a huge task. Wade through the web, find resources you trust, and spend more and more time filtering to find the needle in the haystack.
The wave of mediocrity sweeping the web will eventually kill the intense demand for content that made content marketing so popular in the beginning.
It’s kind of like the kid that loves chocolate until he has the chance to eat all his Halloween candy at once. He soon discovers that getting too much of what you want can be worse than not enough.
Are you part of the problem?
As a marketing consultant, I often advise clients to publish content as part of their thought leadership efforts. I tell them to write white papers and press releases that attract links and SEO karma.
The difference is that what I suggest is publishing valuable content. Items of interest that can’t easily be found elsewhere. If you don’t follow this advice and randomly push out materials without thinking twice about what value they add, you could be part of the problem.
What’s a content marketer to do?
As you develop content for your business, make sure you are adding something of value to the universe of existing materials. Think about your audience, and what they need.
What will your reader get in return for the time they spend with your content? Provide a unique perspective, some fresh insights or real data. Think about what information will help your audience improve their situation, be more informed or better educated.
If you’re just regurgitating something you read elsewhere, stop. Instead, use items you like as inspiration to offer your own unique spin or position.
Avoid contributing to the clutter.
Blindly sharing can be dangerous to your reputation, as Jordan Kasteler points out in this post on Social Sharing and Personal Credibility.
Before you retweet, share or post content from other sources, review it. Yes, that means take the time to actually click that link, read it and think: Is it really good? Would you recommend it to a friend or client you were meeting with face-to-face? If not, hold off for something better.
A little restraint in curating the content you share will not only slow the spread of mindless stuff, if will also reflect positively on you. Carefully picking what to share – whether you write it yourself or promote content from other sources – will establish your position as an intelligent thought leader, a “go to” person who knows what’s of value, and what’s not.
What do you think?
If you’re a marketer, especially one who uses content marketing in your own business, I bet you have your own thoughts on the issue of content overload. Where do you stand?