To all those who say we need more quality content, not more quantity, I say this: You’re going to get both. (And if you don’t even like the word ‘content’ – read this.)
Why is that? Because that’s what people are creating. Those who bemoan the amount of rubbish being pumped out seem to think that means there is less good work too. Not so.
This past week lots of people have been citing a study by TrackMaven on this subject. The marketing data company studied almost 23,000 brands that produced 50 million pieces of content over a year. We should note they were mainly looking at social platforms – five of them: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter – and blogs. To cut to the chase, the amount of engagement going on is staying constant while content output increases. In other words engagement rates are falling.
Others have talked about ‘crap content’, enough so that their Slideshare kinda went viral a couple of years back. Forget the attempted swagger with the language, the point is fears of an avalanche of material people don’t need or want have been around for a while.
I’d make two points. Brands are just getting started. In the technology space, to take a vertical we know well, maybe a third of vendors are educated and active across the range of content marketing options available to them. Most of the other two thirds will join in, even if it takes some major cultural shifting at some. The same holds true in other industries.
But quality will often be found at media other than the six channels cited in that TrackMaven study. The social channels will often be one major form of distribution – true high-quality content will live on standalone brand publications, in e-books, videos and several channels that aren’t even online such as print and events. Long-form content – by many people’s definition a triumph of quality over quantity – is on the rise and was the subject of our last post, Time to go long.
Some of the content taking these forms is already so good that people pay for it – which is arguably the true definition of ‘premium’ content. (A phrase corrupted for everyone’s own purposes, if ever there was one.)
So the next few years are likely to be even more intense. There will be more low-quality, useless content. There will also be more high-quality content that gets results.
(And ‘gets results’ will be a difficult target to prove… not that it isn’t already. With the rise of some social channels, we struggle to measure ROI. Google ‘dark social’ for more on this.)
That’s the likely complicated reality. But that won’t stop people talking about Peak Content, if only because people want to refer to ‘Peak’ everything these days.**
*photo credit: Information explosion via photopin (license)
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**A while back, I presented at an event and my mention of Peak Mobile – the maximum proportion of our time we’re likely to consume content over mobile devices because, let’s face it, we’ll never do away with desktops altogether – seemed to be the only thing anyone remembered.