Recently, I spent some time checking out marketing blogs, going through a few dozen slideshare presentations, “reading” a handful of white papers and watching way too much infographics. It wasn’t a fun job but what else can you do when you’re ill and just can’t rest?
The exercise was worthwhile though and made me reflect on how we are using content these days. As a matter of fact, what I mainly found was an endless mass of content, in which there rarely was something I hadn’t written, read or seen before.
For the record: I am talking about content regarding marketing, my “business”.
It is really kind of ironic in a way. For years, people like myself have been hammering on the fact that content was not a commodity. I’m talking about a time some of you probably were still wearing diapers or at school (no offense): the early years of the Internet, when the word bubble was not associated with the dotcom economy. A time when businesses invested incredible amounts of money in web sites and overlooked what really mattered: goals, relevance, content, and a purpose, some value or even a reason to be online for people taking the trouble to visit these web sites, having a specific intent.
Content in context: towards eternal repetition and fast food?
With the arrival of, among many others, online lead management, social media and what we still tend to call inbound marketing, content finally got the place it deserved, although the focus was and still is too often the content itself instead of the commercial, relational, personal, emotional and social context and the customer.
Today, businesses, bloggers and other individuals are producing masses of content. They produce it in many forms, depending on the stage of the customer journey, the medium and the context. Content marketing is the name of the game.
In the marketing industry we see video, papers, posts, infographics, slideshare presentations, etc. popping up in astonishing volumes and at a dazzling frequency.
Obviously, all this content has a business purpose and is (or, at least, should be) made with the customer, visitor, recipient, Internet user, social networker, prospect and whatnot in mind. People are the center of the marketing and communication reality, right?
The new marketing truths and buzzwords: what’s really new?
However, we seem to have lost something in the process. Presentations very often contain the eternal same black and white buzzwords, videos, images and “new truths”.
Here is one such truth: “people don’t want to be interrupted by advertising anymore”. Sure, a lot has changed in media consumption and buying behavior but bluntly claiming such truth is absolute nonsense. People still like to be interrupted in many ways and are very capable of separating what matters from what doesn’t matter, thank you very much. As a matter of fact, they always did.
Other “new truths” I come across every day include “Email is dead”, “The consumer is in full control”, “Word of mouth rules in the social media age”, “Your employees are crucial brand advocates”. The list goes on.
If they aren’t exaggerated or utterly wrong, often these new truths are old truths, in reality. Word of mouth has always ruled. And it’s pretty obvious that employees are your brand in day-to-day touches, regardless of where they happen. The list of “new marketing” adagios is completed with numerous posts, papers and webinars that basically all repeat the same old stuff. It is very rare to come across an original piece of content or thinking these days when it boils down to marketing-related (and other?) content.
The impenetrable jungle of content in the sharing mania
Allow me to skip my thoughts on infographics and blogs that only contain those, completed with some slideshare presentations, cool videos or quick and dirty “x tips to whatever” posts. Yes, it is quite ironic. The increasing attention for content is very often resulting in “me too” content and as such, commoditizing content, with lots of pieces that repeat what other pieces elsewhere contained.
Little original thinking, a lot of black and white, very SEO-optimized and all in all, a nearly impenetrable jungle of repetition in which no one can find a precious pearl anymore. We are producing a lot of content. Easy bites and fast food with results in mind and very often zero to mediocre value. It’s Commoditization 2.0.
And in a way, we shouldn’t be surprised that we eternally repeat ourselves. Isn’t spreading and repeating the content, we produce our social dream? And isn’t repeating what seems to be spread and consumed in the end what we really do?
What do you stand for?
Where is the personality in this world of traffic, Klout and retweets? Where is the thinking? Where are the gems, the “authenticity” (sorry for the term), the “stories”, the unique value proposition, the purpose, the KPIs? I guess we have commoditized ourselves somewhere along the road and focus mostly on getting found and noticed in an ocean of content and a sea of sharing where everyone hunts for tweets, retweets, likes and stumbles.
The question is what do we want to stand for when we get found? Do we want mass or do we want value? A bit of this and a bit of that is always best. However, the way many bloggers and businesses are producing and sharing content right now, is often of little value, repetitive, boring and often overwhelming (no wonder search engines suffer).
As such, in a way, content has become not only a commodity but often very…interruptive. Where do you stand? And what do you stand for? Surprise me with an original piece of content and thinking. I beg you, as the increasing attention for content is very often resulting in “me too” content and as such, commoditizing content.
Originally posted on conversionation.net