OPINION: Content Shock? More like content evolution

Bobbi Mahlab
By Bobbi Mahlab | 23 January 2014

Earlier this month, American social marketing guru and AdAge Power 150 marketing blogger Mark Schaefer shouted from his popular businessgrow.com blog that content marketing is no longer a sustainable strategy for businesses, and the world is approaching a state of content overload. See it here.

He theorised that the upward trend of content consumption isn’t sustainable because there’s only so much of it we can consume before we reach overload. He’s dubbed the intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability as Content Shock, and argues that content creators will be driven out of business over time as the cost of creating even more content rises to such a point that it is no longer sustainable.

Mark is an excellent marketer, and his blog piece has done exactly what he intended it to do – it’s stirred controversy, provoked debate, and has no doubt sent his web traffic and Twitter followers through the roof.

But is his argument valid? Absolutely not. It is fatally flawed.

What we are simply seeing is the evolution of content marketing. Never mind Schaefer, think Darwin.

To suggest that content marketing is on the way out due to greater competition is ludicrous. Entire industries don’t fold when there’s competition, as Schaefer suggests. The businesses that go above and beyond are the ones that survive and thrive. The ones that don’t, will die. When there’s competition, clever operators innovate. They discover their unique selling proposition. And they tweak their marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly, Schaefer’s post struck a nerve, attracting more than 200 comments from globally recognised marketing gurus like Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose, Doug Kessler and copy blogger founder Brian Clark.

As was argued in the blog comments section, we hit ‘content shock’ a long time ago. And we’re all still here. What it has meant is that businesses have needed to focus on quality content to stand out.

In a world of content saturation, the brands, authors and innovators who people trust will engender even more loyalty as a source of reliable content in a respected environment. Information-rich content inspires customers, and will help build trusted content communities. Those relationships will grow stronger, rather than weaken.

The consequence of that is that half-baked content that’s not backed by strategy just won’t cut it, and more and more brands will realise that this doesn’t even come close to the complexities of content marketing.

If you don’t take my word for it, perhaps take Google’s word for it. Schaefer failed to mention the fact that Google rewards engaging, information- rich content with a higher search ranking.

You can’t pull the wool over Google’s virtual eyes. The digital behemoth decided that keywords are out in favour of searches of true meaning and intent. And that’s what content marketers do best.

Bobbi Mahlab
Founder & MD
Mahlab Media

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