How Do We Find Our Way Out Of The Content Echo Chamber?
In his article, Focus On Your Audience More Than Your Peers, Daniel Newman of Millennial CEO nails a point I have tried to make more than once about the bubble so many content marketers are building around themselves. It’s actually more of a two-way mirror: here we are, in this space with others writing the same things, looking out at a broader world that is oblivious to our existence.
Daniel described how an article he wrote about how the informed consumer is creating a new buyers journey was considered old hat by a peer, although it wasn’t actually broadly disseminated information. It was one of many subjects that futurists and the otherwise ‘clued in’ routinely discuss amongst themselves. Sure, a few of us get in on the act, perhaps adding in a little niche-related context, but as with so many things, the subject has yet to reach a broad audience.
Look at this article from the BBC about Big Data. It’s at a beginners’ level many of us have graduated from if we actually entered the conversation there in the first place. But it shows the subject audience is broadening into the mainstream. Perhaps we’ve been writing on the topic at a higher level, but the world wasn’t reading and now it is, so this content isn’t aimed at us. But it is good news for us – especially if we can get our message into the broader channels being created. And it is certainly good news for people looking to market Data Analysis as a service.
(For some amusing historical context around Big Data, this is the Press Release from 1972, for the IBM 370/125 Mainframe – the first computer I ever worked on 4 years later, and at the time, quite a revelation. It could process a ‘massive’ 80kB a second at its highest configuration!)
To a very large extent, we are educating each other. More precisely, a few futurists start the ball rolling and then bloggers and content marketers pick up the mantle, adding context and thoughts of their own as the first expansion of audience takes place. But still, those ‘in the know’ will represent a very small percentage of the general populace, even as they become more sophisticated in their knowledge
I’ll bet that most people reading this have at least a vague familiarity of the concept of Semantic Search, whether they have written about it (yet?) or not, but whereas everyone’s life is touched by it, few people outside of the small world we operate in, will have heard anything about it. And for all of our in-talking, in the current order of things, that is the way it will remain until one or more of the larger news organisations pick it up and run with it.
So what is it that propels a conversation to the next level?
Is it just a critical mass? Is it that the subject has become so entwined with our everyday life without us knowing the details, that it reaches a point when someone, somewhere, will ‘break’ the story behind the changes that happened so slowly, that we may not have even noticed them?
Daniel says “it is time for those of us who guide these businesses to take a step back and recognize that we have to get back to communication basics and start speaking to our audience.”
I say that perhaps that isn’t enough. Our audience is too small. We need to look at what the broader population is talking about and tailor our message to be found by related searches. Yes, mastery of semantic search is surely key to finding the bigger audience. The ability to naturally integrate our not so general knowledge into what the public is already searching for, will be key to claiming the new readers – people who might benefit from what we are saying or the services we are providing, but have yet to hear it.
More on that, later…….
Images from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/technology/29stream.html?_r=0 and IBM
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