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Why should the content shock be part of your content strategy in 2018?

Why do we need to be entangled in a binary between quantity and quality content? Why should we not look to synthesize the two and create something meaningful? 
posted on 14th June 2018
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Getting content strategy right in today’s tricky, almost fiendish landscape is as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack.

In all fairness, most of it can also be attributed to our own proclivity for self-adulatory (yet misplaced) trappings concerning what works or can work – only because something has worked in the past.

Here’s a newsflash. Nothing can be further from the truth.

In a digitalized ecosystem characterized by some data-driven nuggets – past experiences evoke at best, superficial values - and they can no longer be benchmarks for our future content marketing strategy.

What this also means is that there is a need to be brave enough to challenge stereotypical notions surrounding our senses in an already inundated market that is being fed by and, therefore, regurgitating nothing but mediocrity.

As a case in point, there is almost complete unanimity in the notion that quality takes precedence over quantity. But here's the thing.

Why do we need to be entangled in a binary between quantity and quality?
Why should we not look to synthesize the two and create something meaningful?

The economic contours of quantity

The fruits of any marketing strategy are predicated on the ability to get the coveted attention of customers.

But when even a major aberration can snowball into a full-blown catastrophic event, we can surmise that there’s a lot at stake.

Those who are unable to go beyond quality (as they should) could do well to refer to the thought-provoking hypothesis posited by Mark Shaefar.

According to Mark,

The demand and supply of content is directly proportional in economic parlance. That is, when there is an uptick in content supply, there is also a corresponding increase in the cost to access that piece of content.

Now common sense tells us that whenever there’s an abundance or scarcity of any commodity, there will be a corresponding decrease and increase in demand for that commodity.

However, things take a different turn from the marketing perspective – when supply surpasses demand, it’s not feasible to continue bringing down prices as a large part of it is already being offered for free.

Against this backdrop, Mark propounded that there will come a time when businesses will need to pay their audience to get them to access their share of content just to stay afloat–a catch 22 situation given the uncontrolled explosion of content - staring at our face.

Less is not always more

Contemporary content marketers know that domain authority plays an important role in determining a website’ credibility and eventually, its success.

As a matter of fact, Google regularly uses this feature to gauge the scope, quality, and reach of your internet search traffic.

A website that manages to get a higher score is more likely to earn and convince Google why it should prefer you over someone else - when it comes to sending search traffic.

Generally, domain authority comprises of the following nuances:

1. Size of the website (number of pages)

2. Relevance of content

3. Consistency of content

4. Time-sensitivity

5. Keyword density

6. Quality of websites linking their content to yours or vice versa

As part of my content marketing strategy development for an exciting cosmetic brand, I did a detailed checkup of their DA. Contrary to what I thought, the scenario looked far from rosy.

Six of its 10 rivals had overtaken it and left it far behind – not so much in terms of quality – but by producing such voluminous chunks of content that Google was happy to direct plenty of search traffic to their websites.

In fact, one of my client’s rival brands got into the groove of publishing 20-25 blogs and populated it many times in a single month.

To make matters more complicated, they’d been doing it consistently for a fairly long time, thus carving a niche for themselves.

More crucially, what this particular brand, like a few others, did was to shock the market with excessive content within the cosmetic niche. It practically submerged their competitors into a pool of content overload, eventually drowning them – figuratively speaking.

How good was their content? Great, but not always.

But that didn’t seem to matter a lot because they’d already won the battle of content overload or, in other words, content shock.

As a matter of fact, all 6 rivals were reaching out to their audiences using an omni-channel approach by exploring different formats like blogs, white papers, case studies and feature articles.

More importantly, they were harnessing the potential of content shock with calculated brazenness. They wanted to own the niche like no one’s business and didn’t want anyone to come close.

So what did that mean for my customer?

Two things.

a. They had to find a way to navigate the landscape dominated by content inundation

b. They had to navigate the niche with consistency and a judicious mix of quantity & quality

Turning the tide

As content marketers, we’re often impelled to look at the glass half full even when the chips are down. And that’s what drives us to find opportunities in the most inimical scenarios.

In this particular instance, my approach was to view content shock as a troubleshooter, a potential solution to a long-standing problem.

And, why shouldn’t we do that?

Could it not be that overloading the market with consistent and relevant content is just what the doctor ordered?

Sadly, the recalcitrance on the part of some brands to part with the conventional content marketing strategy is symptomatic of a larger malaise – a reactive mindset.

They’re happy to-

1. Publish blogs sporadically

2. Explore podcasting or video creation in isolation and not as part of their overall content marketing strategy

3. Create social media profiles and ape what their competitors do

While none of these three approaches are wrong per se, what is often found lacking is a deftly crafted content marketing plan that is aligned with the brand’s unique goals.

No two businesses are the same. They don’t need to be.

In order to win, companies need to go beyond the reactive mindset of replicating the strategies of their rivals.

They need to be proactive in finding crevices within the niche that they currently operate in and go for the kill by saturating it.

The way forward

Did the enormity of the challenge facing my client mean that they’d hit the dreaded dead end?

Not quite.

The good thing about content marketing (and content, in general) is that it can surprise you with illuminating answers just when you feel you’ve touched rock bottom.

Through a combination of intuitive strategies that involved a healthy dose of content quantity interspersed with quality, we were able to overcome the formidable twin challenges rather successfully.

How we did that is another story and as usual, we’re far from resting on our laurels!

Complacency can be the greatest nemesis in an increasingly digital ecosystem so we’re constantly fine-tuning our short-term tactics. Anyway, you get the idea!

Summing it up

Content has traversed a long way from the time it was confined to inchoate pieces of text. It is no longer possible to survive by merely gaining your audience’s attention.

When milliseconds are all you have to sustain their attention, you need to move faster than the speed of ‘their’ thought and turn that attention into decisive action.

Equally, adopting the content creation and marketing plan just because it’s worked in the past – or because everyone is doing the same – is unlikely to get you anywhere close to your business goals.

In a world where skewed digital metrics entail a distorted sense of reality (hyperreality), you must impel your audience to-

a. Give you their attention

b. Trust you with their action

Surround them with qualitative and quantitative content until attention deficit converts into attention shock. Put simply, delve deep into content shock and make it an inextricable part of your content marketing strategy.
Then, add systematic layers of quality & quantity to your content structure and leave your audience with no choice but to take notice of the creator – you.  
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