It’s no surprise that we are inundated with data and marketing messages from all sides. Experts estimate that over 90% of all data was generated just in the last two years, and the rate of data creation is exploding each year. Just to quote one statistic: “Every minute, up to 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone!” Think about that for a minute.
In this crazy world, social media and digital experts will have you believe that, if you want to “engage” with your customers, you will need to embrace almost every social network out there, and churn out updates every hour, or publish new blog posts multiple times a month. But, where do we draw the line? And, who is reading all that content?
How much is too much? It’s a pertinent question to ask in today’s times.
Mark Schaefer posits in Content Shock that content marketing is not a sustainable strategy:
…The volume of free content is exploding at a ridiculous rate. Depending on what study you read, the amount of available web-based content (the supply) is doubling every 9 to 24 months. Unimaginable, really.
However, our ability to consume that content (the demand) is finite. There are only so many hours in a day and even if we consume content while we eat, work and drive, there is a theoretical and inviolable limit to consumption, which we are now approaching.
Like any good discussion on economics, this is rooted in the very simple concept of supply and demand. When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. But in the world of content marketing, the prices cannot fall because the “price” of the content is already zero – we give it away for free. So, to get people to consume our content, we actually have to pay them to do it, and as the supply of content explodes, we will have to pay our customers increasing amounts to the point where it is not feasible any more.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’ve ever tried to sustain a blog or a social media account on behalf of a brand/product/service, you’d know how hard it really is to keep churning out something of value, not just more of the same.
By the way, the “paying people to read” that Schaefer is talking about includes paying with your time – the work you put in to generate all that quality content. Naturally, in such a world, deep pockets win and entry barriers become impossibly high. And, the only players that benefit are those who are selling the modern-day shovels for the gold rush of today – The Facebooks and Googles of the world that monetize the platforms that we want to keep using, to reach our target customers with more and more content…
This is not just a social media problem. It affects email – the most fundamental form of electronic communication prevalent today.
Seth Godin points out the hazards of relying on over-zealous SPAM filters in his blog post, The Choke Points:
Google (also) automatically moves many Mailchimp newsletters to your promo folder in gmail. As well as airline alerts, school newsletters and more. Without asking you first. Plenty of babies in that bathwater. This error violates the do-not-harm principle… If people trust you to deliver their email, then deliver it.
Google’s spam filter is a revelation, it’s free and it works, most of the time. The challenge they face, though, is when they start to ratchet up what they filter. The number of things you are counting on getting by email keeps going up, and we need to be able to count on this medium to keep us informed.
When an AI engine or algorithm is in charge of “curating” the content we read, it will have consequences that are far reaching.
Is there a solution? Does the answer lie in cutting back? Could we possibly reduce the amount of content we are putting out?
I think the answer will vary depending on your position in the food chain. If you are one of the “deep pockets”, you’ll probably want to keep going about your business, as you’ve done for so long. If, on the other hand, you are a fledgling startup, or small business, or (god forbid!) a solopreneur, then I’d advise you to bite no more than you can chew.
For me, the right fit is a blog post every month or so, and a tweet every other day, except on some occasions when I tweet out stuff from a conference or something newsworthy. To save time, I also cross-post content from one social network to another, and don’t have a Instagram or Pinterest account. For you, the answer may be somewhat different.
How much is enough? It’s a pertinent question to ask in today’s times.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.
Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh