We can’t break through the clutter by adding to it.
TrackMaven analyzed 50 million pieces of content in 2015 and reported that output of content per brand increased 35 percent per channel in 2015, but content engagement decreased by 17 percent. As they summarized:
“This is content overload, quantified. As more content floods social networks, the slice of engagement for the average brand shrinks. With a limit to how much content can be consumed, liked, or shared, brands must create their own competitive advantages with distinguishing content.”
As the concept of content marketing took hold over the past few years, much of the emphasis has been on output. The word “content” denotes something that fills a container. With lots of containers from new social channels, many brands have taken a factory approach to content. I’ve heard marketers describe content marketing as feeding the beast.
Here’s how P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, recently put it at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference:
“We fell into a content crap trap…
“In our quest to do dynamic, real-time marketing in the digital age, we were producing thousands of new ads, posts, and tweets because we thought the best way to cut through the clutter was to create more ads.
“Advertising has a bad reputation, which is why people are trying to rename it ‘content.’ It makes sense, because much of what we express as content belongs in a box and should never be opened again…
“We eventually decided to stop the noise, step up our game, and give consumers the experience they deserve. We made a choice to raise the bar on creativity, and that’s the key to our market growth…
“Creativity drives growth. We are continually striving to raise the bar; to do the undisputed best. All of us have a choice to set standards for the industry. Will we allow the vast technology to erode the work or bring out the best in each other? Will we raise the creative bar? Yes and together we will leap over it…”
Marc went on to set up the creative dichotomy as a choice between “Craft” versus “Crap”. I love that distinction and agree that this is a time for renewed emphasis on Craft. We can’t drive engagement without being engaging.
Here’s a related cartoon I drew last year on the commoditization of content.