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‘Content Shock?’ Think ‘Content Darwinism’ and Be Mighty

Survival of the Fittest Social Media Marketing Consultant Mark Schaefer wrote a thought-provoking blog about “content shock” a few months ago, which created quite a buzz in the social media world. Content Shock, according to Schaefer, is the idea that “the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect with our limited capacity to consume it.” In other words, there will simply be too much content for mere mortals to handle. Schaefer makes an economics argument for Content Shock: It comes down to supply and demand. There will be an unending supply of content and demand will become flat because we will have consumed as much as we are capable of consuming. I’m not in total agreement with this part. Long before the Internet, we had more content than we could possibly consume, even if we spent day and night immersed in it. Let’s jump into the Way-Back Machine and consider newspapers: At one time many large towns and cities had two newspapers. Some had three or four. There were morning and evening editions of some papers; there were extras when big news happened. On a daily basis more news was printed than people could easily consume in a day. People didn’t expect to be able to read everything in every paper, so they picked their favorite newspaper and they read what they were interested in – or what resonated with them. tumblr_mf5sxfc6al1qdv42bo1_1280And remember; content isn’t just the written word; it’s also audio, video, art, graphics, cartoons and more. Think about the library: Can I read every book, listen to every tape and CD (or album, which, for all you youngsters out there is like a ginormous CD), browse all the magazines and read all the newspapers? Of course not. Not then and not now. How about the Library of Congress? It has, and I quote the Library of Congress itself “158 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts. “The Library receives some 15,000 items each working day and adds approximately 12,000 items to the collections daily.” Can anyone consume that much content? Of course not. Add all of the museums, all of the television stations, all of the magazines, all of the radio … you get the point. People don’t want to consume all of it; they want to find what they like and pick which parts they want to consume. When it comes to content, you get to eat dessert and ignore the vegetables. So what I think is that rather than Content Shock, what we need to embrace is what I like to call Content Darwinism. Only the fittest will survive. Only the most interesting, helpful, educational and entertaining content, produced by the most nimble content creators, will survive. Schaefer’s theory somewhat parallels this. He argues that there will be so much content and it will be so hard to get people’s attention that only the organizations with Scrooge McDuck’s coffers will be able to afford to publish content that gets noticed. I don’t think so. In the end content has to resonate – and money can’t buy that. Good content is good content. You can pay for a lot of bells and whistles that wow people with your creativity and general awesomeness, but if it doesn’t resonate or interest people, they won’t take a second look. Plus, what works now won’t necessarily work down the road. People are fickle; their thinking will change or they’ll find something shinier to play with. They’ll get bored with Dinosaureverything and everything marketers think we know now will have to get blown up and something else will have to take its place – likely something we can’t even imagine right now. So continue to think big, create strong content and be prepared for change. Be mighty. Your survival depends on it.
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