Content marketing explodes but engagement shortens

I’d like to say I knew this as a graduate student in philosophy and rhetoric at the University Texas-Arlington. Writing for the Shorthorn student paper back in 1984, I penned the magnificently serious column titled “The Implosion of Meaning.” Despite its sophomoric tone, the riff on how big The New York Times was and how nobody could read the thing in entirety plays a new tune in today’s digital world.

Now, TrackMaven, a social and content marketing analytics software company, has done a Big Data study and has proclaimed that we have reached peak content for brands.

The company analyzed content marketing activity of almost 23,000 brands, 50 million pieces of content across six primary channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and blogs. The average brand posted 2,000 pieces of content in 2015, or 35 percent more than the previous year. It led to nearly 77 billion interactions with audiences. While this appears impressive, the study also found out the average content marketing engagement – or time spent on the content – decreased by 17 percent.

The one form of social media that increased content marketing engagement was LinkedIn. Is it a flight to quality, and to focused content on business and career issues rather than Facebook’s mere friendship updates and general titillation and Twitter’s news bits and quick opinions? It makes sense to me, in light of automatic video plays on Twitter and Facebook counting as engagements. (You can turn auto play off, by the way, and I suggest you do it.) Although Facebook is tops at content pushes, engagement lowered by 15 percent in 2015. It’s interesting to note that 80 percent of Facebook’s $5.6 billion in revenue is from mobile ads on its phone application.

Despite falling content marketing engagement, TrackMaven says brands are hell-bent on publishing. Let’s return to the original premise of the implosion of meaning penned by that oh-so-serious grad student.

The idea is that as media explodes, meaningful comprehension of it implodes. We’re all drinking from the firehose of data and losing the sense of things. I can’t even call it information because it’s so much flotsam and jetsam.

Given this backdrop, content marketers face some serious considerations about their plans. Here’s my two cents on the subject. Actually I’ve got a whole lot more than two cents to say but my theme centers on quality. Higher quality builds engagement. And I’m sorry, trying to pay content farm, rock-bottom rates for creative talent will not get it done.

“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,” TrackMaven said.

Marketers need to find a way to be information-useful to their customers, even if they have to pay for sponsored content on social media to ensure the best visibility. Find something interesting about your product or service, tell its history, make a story, publish honest reviews on search apps. Your customers or clients know the difference between sales talk and real insight. If you can solve a problem, provide some humor or otherwise entertain, you’ve got a great chance to improve the engagement of your content, and win at the marketing game and reach your organization’s or personal goals.

I once saw Dick Cavett ask the great American author Saul Bellow how he kept up with the information overload, pointing to the then 5-inch thick Times. Bellow rolled his eyes and replied, “I don’t think it’s all that important anyway.”

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