Don’t panic: yes, content shock is here but (lean) content marketing is still your best bet

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Don't panic- yes, content shock is here but (lean) content marketing is still your best betChristopher Penn made a great analysis by extracting from the Mary Meeker internet report data on time spent with digital media.

What did he find out?

“Over the past year and a half, much has been made of Mark Schaefer’s theory of Content Shock, the idea that we are incurring rapidly diminishing returns on content marketing. Part of the reason is the explosion of content being created by everyone. A bigger part of the diminishing returns in the Content Shock theory is the fixed amount of time people have to consume content.”

Read the full article at:


Digital Media consumption per individual will plateau in the coming years

Digital Media consumption is by no way decreasing and has never been higher. But its growth rate has started to slow down. In other words, trees don’t grow to the sky and we will start to see digital media consumption time per day plateau in the coming years.

Is that surprising?

Yes and no. We knew already that we couldn’t be spending more than 24 hours a day consuming content anyway… But as he points out, this supports the theory of content shock that Mark Schaefer proposed about 18 months ago to warn about the increasing competition for attention.


The volume of content we consume will however keep increasing beyond that as content will become more and more snackable

Now, there’s another dimension to attention that I would like to point out to complete the picture before coming to what this means concretely. The fact that the total time we spend consuming content online is limited (though still growing…) doesn’t mean necessarily we can’t consume more.

While the time consuming content shifted from TV, offline media to digital, it also shifted from long form to short form.

Yes, we do binge watch TV shows like Game of Throne but we also snack content a lot more. We scan through articles quickly (reading only 20%), we consume micro content which isolates one powerful idea, we read curated lists, we enjoy 140-character witty tweets and we love animated gifs and 3-second vines. So the recent change is not just that we’ve spent more time consuming digital content: it’s also that in one hour or one minute consuming content, we’ve snacked through a lot more different content pieces. While we were watching a show on TV for one hour, we were being exposed to one single piece of cotent (plus maybe a dozen ads). Today, in that same hour, we probably consume dozens of tweets, scan through 10 blogs, watch several YouTube or Facebook videos, etc… 

Of course this has a limit too: how atomic can content become?

I don’t think we will see someone beat Vine by having even shorter 1 second videos. But not all the content out there is yet designed to be snackable. So there’s room for growth here and that’s an opportunity for marketers.

3 Ways for lean marketers to beat content shock with limited resources


1. Make your content more snackable:

This doesn’t mean making only short form content. But you should think of breaking long form content into shorter bits which are easier to digest. Sure, some people will love your 90-age book right away. But many others will rather have one main idea that takes them 30″ to understand before engaging further.

Not sure where to start? Here are 15 ideas from 5 marketing experts on how to repurpose content

2. Curate content

As I replied to Mark’s content shock post back then, content curation is a cure to content shock as it enables marketers to grab attention, make a point and have impact with their audience in much less time than by crafting their own message single handedly. Don’t just add to content shock: smart marketers will leverage existing content to make their point and be heard.

Building on other people’s content (as I’m just doing) also adds credibility to your message. Finally, it will position you as a useful resource and a thought leader always on top of your industry’s trends and putting the priority on helping others over force feeding them their own content.

3. Focus on your niche

Yes, the volume of content increases faster than our limited attention capacity. But the long tail also keeps getting longer. Fighting for attention agains big brands on mainstream topics is hard and will be even harder in the future.

RedBull has more than 50,000 videos to win extreme sports and adventure lifestyle as a category. Can you compete with them with a marketing team of 5? Probably not. But because we keep having tools that let us choose what we want to consume, that lets us filter the news and content we receive, we keep zooming in on more and more precise interests.

One last thought as a conclusion. While understanding the limits of human attention spans and the idea of content shock are important, I’m a little wary of hearing some jumping to the wrong conclusion to predict the doom of content marketing. Content marketing is clearly one of the most efficient forms of marketing today. In many ways, it beats advertising, it beats promotional email marketing and it beats salesy, intrusive outreach. Why? Because it respects people’s needs and builds on their interests naturally. Yes, over time content marketers will compete among themselves. But what we’re seeing today is that a lot of companies out there are still relying on intrusive, old fashioned outbound advertising and marketing techniques. Before we content marketers have to compete 100% among ourselves, we have a low hanging fruit: beat advertising that customers no longer want because it’s intrusive and spammy. Content marketing is still a low hanging fruit in many industries, especially when you make it lean


If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!


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About the Author

Guillaume Decugis
Co-Founder & CEO @Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Engineer-turned-marketer. Skier. Rock singer.
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Avantika Vaghani
8 years ago

thank you so much job alert

China Digital Review
8 years ago

I’m a snacker and I just read the whole article – guess that means it was unusually good!

Guillaume Decugis
8 years ago

There you go! 😉

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