Content is king, it’s all about content, content first, content, content, CONTENT!
Yes, content is king, but as more companies, and individuals, realise this, the internet is being flooded with content that purports to add value to the user, with the ultimate aim of making a sale.
“Content is king” was the title of a 1996 article by Bill Gates in which he predicted:
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. […] the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.”
No company is too small to participate, indeed, which is why the internet is full of bloggers, would-be experts, businesses, brands, who are pumping information out into the world. Quantity over quality?
As individuals, we are bombarded with stimuli from all sides. At work, we receive hundreds of emails every day, we have long conference calls and go to back-to-back meetings; we read business reports, analyse share data, run consumer research, look at what competition is doing, study best practices. Privately, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr. We’re watching YouTube clips, browsing news sites, checking the weather, reading reviews on TripAdvisor, exploring Amazon’s recommendations, playing Words with Friends or Candy Crush Saga.
It’s no wonder that we start to feel overwhelmed, we get easily distracted, we struggle with making decisions.
So we develop coping mechanisms. We choose to skip video advertising that is preventing us from getting at the content we actually want to watch, we ignore banners that try to distract us from the article we’re reading, we scroll past promotional messages appearing in our news feed.
As humans – and yes, we are humans, though we may represent brands and businesses – we now have an average attention span of 8 seconds. (A goldfish, by the way, narrowly beats us at 9 seconds.) This is the window you have for catching, and holding, someone’s attention.
And you’re competing against everyone else who’s screaming for attention. You’re competing with Red Bull’s Felix Baumgartner jumping from space. With Series 4 of Game of Thrones. With Justin Bieber.
There are even businesses springing up to help us consume content more efficiently. Vine limits each video to just six seconds. Snapchat allows up to 10 seconds but then deletes it. Twitter restricts our messages to 140 characters. Circa breaks down news stories into bite-sized chunks.
It’s simply not enough to talk about your product. It’s not enough to hire a big celebrity. It’s not enough to add some hashtags.
What is it about your content that makes someone pay attention for long enough to absorb your key message? Why should they listen, why should they engage?
Next time, we’ll look at examples of how different brands have tried to address those questions in the content marketing battle for attention.