Content Jam Delivers 5 Approaches for Fighting Content Shock [B2B Beat]

August 7, 2016

The battle against Content Shock was a guiding principle of this year’s Content Jam, a conference hosted on August 3-4 in Chicago by Orbit Media Studios. Content Shock is the concept, introduced by Mark Schaefer, that the production of far too much content has created content fatigue and caused engagement rates to drop.

But the speakers at Content Jam did not give in weakly to Content Shock. Instead, they offered approaches to creating standout content that will still gain readers, generate engagement, and, in the end, contribute to revenue. Here are five ways to combat Content Shock that the speakers at Content Jam recommended:

Treat Your Content Like a Product

Andrew Davis, founder of Monumental Shift, described the situation that content marketers face every day: “We live in an information overload world,” Davis said. “Just because there is more information available doesn’t mean one can consume more. Seventeen new webpages are published every single second.” He suggested that content marketers come to terms with the fact that the Internet is a search-centric entity, dominated by a variety of search engines that range from Google and Bing to Wikipedia, YouTube, and Flickr. To survive in this world, marketers must not count on prospects visiting their websites. Instead, they must create “information and content that people actually want to consume,” Davis said. To accomplish this goal, marketers must treat their content like a product. Among the several examples of marketers creating content that functioned as a product, Davis pointed out Fish Tales, a Dutch wholesaler of sustainable fish. The company’s founder, Bart van Olphen, created “Bart's Fish Tales,” the world’s shortest cooking show on YouTube. The 15-second program offers cooking advice; for example, one episode informed viewers on how to select fresh fish: “Make sure the eyes are bright, the gills are red, the skin is shiny.” And that was the entire program. But it works. "Bart's Fish Tales" currently has 38,975 YouTube subscribers, and the show has extended its brand into other forms of content, including a longer-form fish cooking show. More importantly, Fish Tales the company, supported by its content marketing, is now a 20 million euro business, Davis said.

Target Your Content to Your Niche

“Get rich, target a niche,” Davis counseled at Content Jam. He cited the example of Andy Schneider, the “Chicken Whisperer.” Schneider has built a loyal audience by using the “fractal” approach, Davis said. Schneider doesn’t try to target farmers in general, livestock farmers, or even chicken farmers. He has targeted hobbyist farmers, who raise chickens in their backyards. This approach has yielded him more than 218,000 Facebook followers. In addition to books, a magazine, and a radio, the Chicken Whisperer brand also has a relationship with retailer Tractor Supply Company, which leverages appearances by Schneider to drive revenue. “People buy a chick for $1.99 then they pay $900 to keep that thing alive,” Davis said. “It’s a genius business model.”

There Are Two Kinds of Content That Always Deliver

Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, is a data-driven marketer, who is found of saying, “Don’t bring an opinion to a data fight.” In his talk at Content Jam, Crestodina shared two content approaches that his research has shown to be consistently high performers: research-driven content and content sharing strong opinions. As an example of strong research cotent, Davis pointed out Content Marketing Institute’s annual research on the industry it serves. More than 4,000 websites have linked to the most recent iteration of this research — a powerful performance. Crestodina also referenced the original “Content Shock” post by Schaefer, which had elements of both research and opinion to it. Schaefer’s premise, that content marketing was not a sustainable strategy, was based on research that showed engagement with content was falling precipitously. The strong conclusion Schaefer drew from this research was powerful: The result was more than 500 links. Crestodina’s message is that virtually any content marketer has access to original research — for example, a simple survey of your customer base can provide sharable insight for your industry. Additionally, opinions are like, um, ears: Everybody has one or two. Don’t be afraid to share your strong, defensible opinions about your industry on your blog: You will get noticed, you will start a conversation, and you will find it’s pathway to being a thought leader.

Persona Creation Should Not Be Overlooked

Persona creation is like the weather. Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, wants to change that. Not regarding the weather, but regarding persona creation. In her presentation at Content Jam, she argued that persona creation is essential to creating content; personas are necessary so that a content marketer understands what kinds of content its target audience needs to navigate the buying process from awareness to engagement to decision. Albee offered concrete advice for creating personas. For instance, she recommended avoiding writing personas in the third person. Instead, write them in the first person from the viewpoint of your prospect. This approach, she said, forces you to get into the mind of your target audience. Albee also counseled getting specific about the obstacles your audience faces in the buying process. Don’t simply describe the problem as “inefficiency;” get granular: The problem, for example, is “lack of automation in the workflow ads months to product launches.” Finally, Albee pointed out that LinkedIn can provide unparalleled insight into an industry’s mindset. She recommended studying the profiles of a specific job title in your target audience. By examining the skills people holding that job title assign to themselves, you can better understand the mindset of your customers and prospects. Additionally, by exploring the endorsements your target audience receives on LinkedIn, you can discern what’s important to this audience and understand the language they use in their jobs.

Content Doesn’t Have to be Digital

One of the biggest content lessons of all was hiding in plain sight at Content Jam: Content doesn’t have to be digital to be useful or effective or measurable. The Content Jam event itself was a piece of content, and it did exactly what standout content is supposed to do. It delivered useful information, in this case about content marketing for content marketers, a few hundred of them. It engaged these content marketers, who gave up a full day of work to soak in the lessons of Davis, Crestodina, Albee, and others. And ultimately, the B2B Beat wouldn’t be surprised if Content Jam generated ROI that paid for the event many times over.

So much for Content Shock.

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Photo by Roman Boed