As much as we love overall growth of content through different internet venues, like social media and digital platforms, there comes a potential downside: content overload.
Even though it’s now easier to find ways to share and market new content, it’s equally difficult to stand out in a sea of creations. While this may be true, there’s still a lot of ways to overcome this potential content overload and give your audiences material they will love and seek out in the future.
How to navigate away from content overload
Before we begin giving some helpful, unique tips to guide you through this content landscape, here’s a quick breakdown of content overload.
What is content overload?
Content overload is an overwhelming of an audience through too many solutions, suggestions or ideas.
Here’s an example to help demonstrate the downside of too much of a good thing. Imagine you’re searching to buy a new lawnmower. You come across two different articles.
The first is titled 5 best lawnmowers on the market. This article seems like it would be helpful, despite offering a limited number of options. The second article is titled The best 500 lawnmowers on the market. Clearly, even though technically they’re offering us more, it’s still not as helpful. Though this is an extreme example, it demonstrates the concept.
Another example of content overload is the pure amount of content users are seeing everyday in their online experiences. No matter how important the material or product or service is within an advertisement, chances are the intended audience won’t care much for it if they see 200 other ads for similar products each day. Something needs to stand out for content to not get lost in the vast wasteland of content.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what content overload is, it’s time for you to break free from falling into its traps. Here are some powerful solutions.
Solutions for combatting content overload
There are a lot of ways to combat content overload, including using software that organizes your materials, such as digital asset management (DAM) software. However, there are a few lesser-known ways to make changes, too.
The status quo isn’t going to cut it anymore. There’s just too much information out there for you to throw out mediocre content in the hopes it will successfully land with your audience. You need cutting-edge solutions and outside-the-box creativity to succeed. Here are some key ways to start crafting some content overload problem-solvers.
1. Quit treating your audience like a trash receptacle
Too often teams refuse to go beyond the safe route of discovering what is out there and emulating that approach. This may help you stay afloat, but you have to assume that it will last only so long. Eventually, you'll be drowning in our own sea of rejected cookie-cutter content.
The key here is your audience. You're not trying to give them what everyone has given them, believing that that will be what they want. Instead, we’re trying to excite them, intrigue them, give them something new that no one has thought of yet. Likewise, if you’re restricted by the topic from introducing new ideas, you could rephrase or rewrite content in a way that drastically differs from your competitors.
Let’s say there are 10 different articles published concerning a current event. They are all written by different people, but they’re also all very similar, since the event isn’t open to much speculation (what happened, happened).
If we were to write an article and publish it alongside these 10 articles, it would certainly have to stand out in order for it to be worth it. However, you can’t change the main story since the event isn’t open to any interpretation. It is possible, though, for you to change the tone and the way it’s written. This type of creativity is one way to break free of the struggle a lot of people are currently having in this climate of content overload.
Apart from focusing on new content marketing trends, you should be focused on creating meaningful content that gives the audience something completely new and different. This doesn’t mean going overboard and off-topic, but it should right away give the audience the impression that your work is different than the other stuff out there. They should feel that they’re getting something new, exciting and completely different from the other pieces already available on the topic.
One powerful way to accomplish this is by changing the style of your content, particularly the writing. When it comes to writing a blog post or an article, it’s easy to stay between the imaginary lines that were set by similar pieces before yours. It feels off to write in a more laid-back style while every other article on the same subject is serious and professional.
Again, consider your audience and their potential reaction to both styles. Will they be turned off by a more lighthearted prose, or will it intrigue them? The more important question to ask is, will they even read your piece if the first paragraph doesn’t stand out?
This doesn’t require taking some sort of giant risk or leap of faith. Instead, stay within what has always worked for you, but consider how to create positive separation between you and your peers. Chances are it doesn’t have to be a drastic change in style to accomplish this.
Along these same lines, you can choose to put our audience into focus in our content. This can only be done by removing yourselves almost completely from the content. Taking a step back to let your audience shine is one possible way to prevent your readers from feeling like they’re simply consuming more corporate information – something a lot of users now work to avoid in their daily lives. Here’s an example of one way you can put the focus onto our audience.
Let’s say your company sells shoes. You decide to create a video campaign focusing on three different people, all who wear your brand's shoes. However, the focus of these videos is what they do while wearing the shoes. Whether it’s running a marathon or climbing a mountain, the point of the whole content creation is to make something that is about your audience rather than about your company. This is just one of many ways you can break free from the grind of content that is shoved in your potential audience’s face constantly.
2. Teach, don’t sell
It’s quite refreshing to learn something new, especially when it comes from an unexpected source. People love learning new things and gaining new insight into different areas that interest them. Accordingly, you can mold your content to help readers understand new things and provide them with valuable insight. The more interesting the manner of teaching, the more interesting the content becomes. And the more interesting the content, the more likely you'll avoid your content being passed over for that of your competitors.
This should be done subtly as you don’t want readers to be turned off by a formal, instruction-heavy piece of content. No one wants to feel like they’re back in school while reading an article or blog post in their spare time.
The key is to allow the audience to feel as if they’re part of the joke. When they feel like they’re an insider and feel like you’re giving them the goods, they’ll respond positively. This doesn’t mean that you aren't letting them in on some important information. You're actually making them insiders and letting them in on the inside joke. This isn’t an attempt to manipulate your readers; it's a way to reel them in.
The next thing to consider is what you have to teach. This takes a lot of evaluation. In accordance with avoiding content overload, it only makes sense that whatever you have to teach is something that isn’t readily available in 30 different articles currently on the first few search result pages of Google. Now, in a world of vast information readily available for everyone, it’s fair to say that this might be difficult to find separation.
Of course, there are tools that can help you out. You can search different SEO tools to determine which types of keywords are being left out of content creation in search engines. This method can help you to develop something new to write about, even if you don’t have the most expertise to do so.
3. Review, evaluate, and refresh your content
The last thing to keep in mind is that your creation and publication doesn’t mark the final date in which you check up on it. In fact, it’s important that this is only the beginning of a long term process for your company. The more often you check up on and evaluate your previously-published content, the better chance you’ll have at staying ahead of the inevitable stagnation your articles face.
Let’s say you publish a piece that tackles a little-known topic. Almost immediately your content is popular, being shared on social media and ranking well on search engines. You begin working on your next few pieces, determined to do the same over again. Months later, you realize your initial piece is no longer thriving. As it turns out, the concept of content overload caught up to your article, with a flood of similar pieces from competitors.
This is why it’s so important to re-evaluate the positioning of your content. In this particular scenario, you’d be able to respond by republishing the article with a new strategy, style and information. Here are two different ways you can successfully stay ahead of this.
Schedule periodic evaluations
It’s not enough to simply determine that your teams will evaluate previously published content. Though this is a step in the right direction, it lacks any true focus or deadlines. The more concrete the scheduling of the analysis, the more likely it gets done and is effective.
Find out what type of process works best for you and stick to it. Whether it’s once a month or once a week, the most important thing is having a strict schedule and staying with it. Furthermore, make sure to adjust in the future, based on how much new material you create, how technology changes, and so on. Attempt to keep a schedule in place for a year, then re-evaluate if that’s still enough to cover all of your bases.
Optimize your analysis models
Once you’ve got a strict schedule down and have determined which team members will handle which tasks, it’s time to implement specific methods of analysis. This ensures you’ve given your teams the best chance of determining whether or not your articles are succeeding or falling in with mountains of other similar content.
As mentioned previously, you should seek out different SEO tools that give you a readout of how your specific content is ranking within search engines. Furthermore, you can check different things like social media to see how many times your article is shared and embedded into different articles.
Next, you should consider a manual checkup (when possible) to compare your work with some of your competitors. If you feel that too much of the writing, layout, style and overall feel of the article is alike, it’s time to make a change. Remember that this is somewhat subjective, so consider having more than one team member evaluate this.
At the end of the day, content overload is an inevitability that you have to navigate around rather than completely avoid. In fact, it’s unavoidable. Whatever you create, chances are it will be duplicated in some way or the other, and the field will catch up you.
It is only through creativity, innovation, and determination that you can offer your audience pieces that go beyond your competition and excites readers rather than feed them the same old mundane material.
Make sure you’re doing what it takes to combat content overload within your teams – the overall success of your campaigns depend on it. While you're at it, try out a digital asset management software to help you steer clear of content overload.
Cory Schmidt is Head of Marketing at Canto. He’s a passionate B2B software digital marketing specialist devoted to sales-ready lead creation and nurturing. His expertise extends to helping marketing teams unleash their brands and content with digital asset organizing, retrieval, and sharing capabilities.