Andy Capaloff
January 25, 2014

Is ‘Content Shock’ Just Another Scare?

At what point does the exponential increase in content production make the cost of trying to grab and hold attention no longer cost-effective?  This is the basis for an article by the excellent Mark Schaefer, published a few days ago, that caused quite a stir!

He argues that we’re already at the point when simply producing content is not good enough, so more time is needed to produce ever better content in the battle for eyeballs.  When you see the quality of the content produced by some of the more successful bloggers in this space, including our own Marty Smith, Schaefer certainly makes a fair point!

Being that time is money and better content takes longer to produce, the cost of producing content is increasing.  This is difficult to dispute.

However, other aspects of his article were clearly deemed open to dispute both by commenters to the businessesgrow blog and by both Shel Holtz in this article, and Sonia Simone of Copyblogger in this one.  Each makes pertinent counter-arguments.

Holtz reminded us of two things:

  1.  Concern over the distraction of content can be documented as early as the 1st century and has not happened yet   and
  2.  Whereas content volume is indeed growing at a rapid pace, much of it is niched.

To paraphrase the first argument, each leap forward, from the printing press to the mobile Internet, has come with dire warnings of our attention deficit.  Who hasn’t read articles about the evils of watching too much television, for example?  That is content, after all – not necessarily educational, but it takes time to digest.

magsThe niche aspect is there for all to see.  Name the interest, and there’s a magazine.  If content creation is going to double again in the next 9 to 24 months, it will not all be the stuff that you or I read.

Simone delves into this aspect more.  Yes, a part of the content boom includes content hubs which aggregate many articles each day.  How many Huffington Post articles, to name the most famous of these, do you read?

Facebook, Pinterest and other Social Networks are also content.  OK, so maybe some of it is pictures of cute animals or things that are of interest only to friends. But they contribute to the growth that Shaefer worries about.  For me, her most resonating statement is this: “there is not a glut of content that is useful, passionate, individual, and interesting”.

An end-user experience

Content writers and marketers can talk all we like about overwhelm, but do we really understand it beyond what we read and write?  Well one of the co-writers of this article is an end user, and this is his experience:

Is there content saturation?  Oh, yes!  Look no further than email!  I can typically delete at least 80% of my emails sight unseen.  Many content producers will not like this, but those mailing lists I signed up for to get your White Paper?  I delete most, save some that I expect to come in useful down the road, and read almost none.  Who has the time?  When I need to research something, I go to a few trusted sources and get what I want, when I want it.”

Additional thoughts:

Over the years, we have all become more sophisticatedly discerning than we might imagine.  Case in point?  With hundreds of TV channels instead of just a few, many of us are spending less dedicated viewing hours than we used to when there were only a very few.

As content continues to grow, search keeps pace by constantly improving.  Semantic Search may be beyond most people now, but it will become a part of everyone’s life even if in the same mysterious way that a car engine helps that wonderful machine convey us from point A to point B.

What are some of the ways people stand to gain from the explosion of quality content?

  • Discerning Curators who understand the needs of their readers because they are consumers of the same content, only sharing what blows them away!
  • The Content Producers who capture the attention of these Curators and nurture relationships with them, recognizing the symbiosis and who  continue to build tribes through their own content and engagement.funnel
  • The Discriminating Reader, who combines visits to trusted sources who speak to their listening, and a modicum of mastery of filtering tools and Search
  • The Passionate Marketer whose relevant content builds Tribes, as Seth Godin so eloquently puts it here

A good Curator adds meaning and context beyond the original intent of an article, positioning content from writers who may be niched elsewhere, before new audiences.

A good Curator, more than RSS feeds or Content aggregators, is a weapon against Content Shock.

If someone is out there filtering the deluge of articles that you might otherwise have to work your own way through, and delivering the pieces that have something new to say or that provide new insights into the old, it removes the burden of you having to deal with the ever growing content mountain.

So is Content Shock real?  Only for those who insist on reading every source for themselves

Co-authored by Andy Capaloff

Non-Curatti Images originally posted in and

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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.
  • Interesting arguments on both sides of the great content debate. My take on this is simple – it’s less about the content and more about the story.

    When you look back at book sellers for example – if you happened to land in a major bookstore it could take you hours or even days to work your way around “all those books”.

    But typically, that’s not the way we use book stores – we know our favourite topic or genre and we also, more importantly, know our favourite authors.

    So, we choose to follow story tellers we are familiar with – it will be no different online. Stories will be the key to gaining exposure and retaining customers.

    • Excellent comment, Neil. I completely agree that story is key. And I love the bookstore analogy. It is an exact parallel. We’re now in the age of the digital mega-bookstore and just learning to navigate around it.

      I remember going into record stores as a kid and nothing was ever in any order. The only way you could find anything was to ask the owner or whoever was working there, or take your time looking through everything until you got lucky! Then some brilliant person had the idea of organising the records alphabetically, by genre. So simple, one wonders how it eluded generations previously.

      Stories and context are the genre equivalent. The medium and purveyors have changed, but the means of editing the chaos have similar roots

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