The digital realm offers publishers and marketers infinite space. Regardless, we seem intent on filling it.
A look at the numbers regarding content on the internet, and the new terms data scientists are forced to invent to describe them, is dizzying. According to Intel, 1.3 million video clips on YouTube, 6 million Facebook pages and 20 million photos are viewed every minute of every day.
This unprecedented volume of content presents brand marketers with a tough challenge. “Breaking through the clutter” has never been more difficult. Digital media has offered brands the opportunity to invest in owned media — be it long-form content, video, or what-have-you — and everyone from Coca-Cola to the local Korean taco truck has embraced the challenge. The result is too much content, and too much content is noise regardless of its individual merits.
This can pose a problem for any publisher, brand or otherwise. Yet passengers on this runaway content train are far from panicked. “For years now, I’ve seen a direct correlation between the amount of top-of-the-funnel content published, publishing frequency and the number of visitors (and later conversions) to a website,” says Chad Pollitt, director of marketing for content agency digitalrelevance. “At some point, however,” he cautions, “publishers will begin to see diminishing returns on their efforts.”
Still, some publishers are starting to set limits.
Deanna Murray, a former columnist for AOL who now works as director of digital strategy and marketing at BuildAutomate, an IT firm in the Washington, DC area, says two to three meaningful blog posts per week work best for her firm. Murray doesn’t believe in “content for content’s sake.” She adds that “Facebook posts are not content, they’re snippets.”
According to Track Social, when a brand posts on Facebook twice a day, the second posts only receive 57% of the “likes” and 78% of the comments that a single post receives.
Likewise Shelley Hunter, who serves content manager at GiftCards.com, believes brands ought to show a degree of restraint. “One quality post per day on Facebook is my preference,” she says. The data appears to be on her side. According to Track Social, when a brand posts on Facebook twice a day, the second posts only receive 57% of the “likes” and 78% of the comments that a single post receives.
On the other end of the content volume spectrum is Albuquerque-based ad agency, McKee Wallwork & Company. Director of integrated marketing Emily Griebel says, “Our president, Steve McKee, has a monthly column at BusinessWeek, and I write monthly for Talent Zoo. Also, many of us have been published in SmartBrief blogs, Marketing Profs, Advertising Age, Spin Sucks and other industry publications.”
The prolific McKee Wallwork team also presents webinars and produces videos, and the staff of 12 uses Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook daily to promote the agency. McKee Wallwork happens to be a talented firm with a lot to offer, so the aggressive approach to posting works for them — especially since they’re distributing it across the web rather than piling it all onto a single destination.
Chad Pollitt of digitalrelevance says that the “how much content is too much?” litmus test is simple: “Quality should never be allowed to suffer,” he says.
Lisa Wieting, social media director at marketing agency COHN in Denver, suggests using something called the “talk show rule.” “Featured talk show guests spend about five minutes talking about relevant news, events, or personal stories and only two minutes plugging their project. The same rule should be applied to social media content,” she says.
The reality is that the content race brands are running today is not about how much content a company can post or re-post. For a media company like Huffington Post that is dependent on mass distribution to as many eyeballs as possible, sure, the more the merrier. But brands are not media companies. Brands have an opportunity to make compelling media, but a brand team can lose itself and its audience in all the excitement without a solid content strategy, talented storytellers and a whip-smart analytics team to keep the program on track.
And, hence: Restraint can be a very, very good thing.