A CMO Show Blog Post
Peak Content: Why quality is better than quantity
A CMO Show Blog Post
Peak Content: Why quality is...

In late 2013, serial marketing entrepreneur Drew Williams published a Hubspot blog titled: Peak Content: When Does Content Marketing Hit Its Breaking Point?

He came to the conclusion that “It’s all junk until it’s not,” which was indeed prescient at the time. For years now content marketers have talked about the importance of engaging with your audience and personalising your content to ensure that it cuts through the noise – or the “junk” as it were.

The end of 2015 saw a revival of Williams’s budding question, but this time the game had changed. In 2013, Gartner’s Digital Marketing Hype Cycle placed content marketing well and truly on the rise of the ‘innovation trigger,’ but by 2015 content marketing was plummeting its way down the ‘peak of inflated expectations,’ heading full speed for the ‘trough of disillusionment.’ Gulp!

peak content 

The mood was typified by Jodie Sangster, CEO at ADMA who weighed in with a bold declaration. “The market has now reached ‘peak content’,” she announced in the opening paragraph of a guest post written for Mumbrella.

But what is ‘peak content’? Why are we talking about it? Is it actually happening? And what does it mean for the future of content marketing?

This is Peak Content

Kevin Anderson describes it well.

“For a long time, we’ve been creating too much content, so much so that I think we’ve already reached Peak Content, the point at which this glut of things to read, watch and listen to becomes completely unsustainable,” Kevin writes.

Which brings me to my next question: Why are we talking about it?

For starters, an Australian Media Consumption Report found in 2014 that the average Australian adult spent 11.29 hours a day consuming media. Let that soak in for a minute. That’s longer than most of us sleep at night, or even spend at the grindstone.

[slideshare id=45058762&doc=mediaconsumptionstrippeddownversion-150224021909-conversion-gate01]

This figure has continued to rise since then as the media landscape becomes ever more saturated with content.

Traditional media organisations are creating content on every platform they can get their hands on, including a host of social media sites that combine journalism, blogs, brand-funded, and sponsored content. At the same time, user-generated content is dominating platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, according to this 2015 internet trends report.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of TV streaming software lets us watch hours of content on end. It’s a miracle that anybody has time to do anything other than consume content!

In fact, if you’re a content producer, there’s a similar dilemma. Hungry audiences are making newsrooms very busy places indeed.

Erica Berger writes in Medium, “we’ve created an atmosphere in newsrooms where editorial literally cannot create more content with the teams they have now.”

What does it mean for content marketing?

Well, if this is all sounding a bit grim, fear not. A strong appetite for content among niche audiences is creating significant opportunities for brands with the right focus.

Healthy competition for reader attention is shifting the focus to a well-executed strategy that incorporates creativity, quality and the discipline of long-term focus.

In the words of Jodie Sangster, “brands will now have to be smarter and more selective to create cut through.”

“It’s all junk until it’s not”

That means in the oversaturated mediascape of today, quality trumps quantity 99% of the time – particularly when coupled with a focused audience-building strategy.

As Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi says, “content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

peak content
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

The most recent CMI research reflects the need of content marketers to find the creative cut through, with 69% of respondents listing the ability to produce engaging content as their biggest challenge, and 84% listing it as their top priority for 2016.

So how do you respond to the challenge? Here are three quick tips to make sure your content cuts through the noise:

1. Be unique.

Rather than adding your voice to the noise, stand out from the crowd. Before you pitch any content idea, ask yourself: What is unique about this content? Are you introducing new research to a topic or looking at it from a new angle? If you can’t answer this question you’re probably creating content for quantity not quality.

2. Be brave. 

Don’t be afraid to broach the tough topics. Take advantage of the passion behind your opinions as these are naturally inclined to generate engagement. However do remember, although opinions breed opinions, not all of them will be in your favour. If you’re going to be controversial, the law of the land generally dictates that you get what you give.

3. Be relevant. 

You could produce the most insightful piece of content going around but if it isn’t relevant to your audience it’s still missing its mark. Make sure you understand who you audience is, what they care about and how they generally locate their content. With a clear content  strategy and editorial mission statement in place you can ensure your content reaches its destination more often than not.

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