The World Wide Web has granted the ability to create and distribute content at a rate never before achieved in human history. In 2008, The University of California, San Diego published a report that showed American households consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. A zettabyte, almost defying comprehension, is one billion trillion bytes, that’s a one with 21 zeros added. This data shows that the average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and is exposed to 100,000 words in a single day.
Some estimates place the number of social media users in 2014 as high as 1.82 billion people. As the number of eyes on social media pages has grown, so has the demand for content to fill those pages. Search Engine Optimization is a field currently exploding in an effort to meet this demand. But is there such thing as too much? Too much content for readers to possibly consume? Well, industry influencer Mark Schaefer believes so.
He first theorized, “content shock” in January 2014 as “The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.” Basically content marketers and the 27,000,000 pieces that they create a day are reaching the point of oversaturating Internet space with content. Readers can only absorb so much before it becomes ineffective, but what is the solution? How do you create a balance between quality content and not oversaturating your audience?
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Enter SMO, or Social Media Optimization. Now more than ever especially with major search engines like Google optimizing their results for social activity, the social media focused success of content is vital to marketing achievement. Instead of simply link building, content being created has to focus on being likeable, retweetable, sharable, and pinable amongst other things. The race is no longer to who can create the most content, but who can make content that is more sharable through social media and that most engages the reader. So what is the future of content marketing? Well, nobody can say for sure but there are certainly signs of where it’s going.
Use of visuals over text content has shown better engagement on social media.
The long form seems to be dying out, and is being replaced with more bite-sized content. Content that is witty, fun and easier to read.
Be social in the content you create. Educate and engage the reader without boring them. Build a relationship through content. We’ll start seeing a more personal voice in the articles that get picked up the most, and rightly so!
Be unique, think different. This is of course easier said than done, but generic content will not excited a reader base.
As the argument for content shock grows, the demand for quality over quantity will see the evolution and circulation of engaging and well thought-out content of a higher caliber. Information more palatable for the 8 out of 10 Americans using social media will win out over the steady stream of recapitulated content that is dangerously close to over saturating the readers and consumers of today.
Nick Rojas is a journalist and business consultant based in Los Angeles and New York. He often writes about content creation, social media, and technology. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.