Beginning of this year Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer), a Consultant, professional speaker, author, educator, wrote a remarkable post Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.

Mark described the Content Shock as follows:

The emerging marketing epoch defined
when exponentially increasing volumes
of content intersect our limited human
capacity to consume it.


In other words, in future there will exponentially more content produced then people are able to consume. This means that content marketing will be less effective and more expensive, as you need to invest more (time) to write more content to reach your audience.

As Mark mentioned in his post:

This post will demonstrate in simple economic terms why content marketing — the hottest marketing trend around — may not be a sustainable strategy for many businesses.

Question and demand from content

But in this case you need to pay people to read your content.
In other words because the content is exponentially growing, there will come the time that there is more content produced then consumed.

Economically it means that the investments in content marketing are harder to earn it back. Even worse, the question will if you can earn your investments in Content Marketing back at all.

Mark illustrates it as follows:

Paying people to read our content? Does that sound crazy? But you’re already doing it. Let me explain.

For argument’s sake, let’s value my time at $100 per hour. So with 5 hours of content creation in 2009, I was “paying” my readers $500 in my time to consume my content each week.

I am going to have to create significantly better content, which of course will take significantly more time. I will have to “pay” you at much higher rates just to keep the same number of readers in 2014 that I had in 2013.

The good news is that it will be easier to consume content. For example the introduction of mobile devices makes people consuming more content.

As Mark mentioned:

Recently, the introduction of mobile devices has untethered us from desks and even our homes, increasing the amount of daily content consumption by two hours a day! On average Americans consume an average of 10 hours of content a day, according to Nielsen.

Mark’s conclusion, concerning Content Marketing:

  1. Deep pockets win
  2. The entry barriers become impossibly high
  3. The cost-benefits flip

So, now the question:
The Content Shock: Does it exist?

In a way Mark is very right, content is growing exponentially, it is growing much faster then our ability to consume content. It means for sure that it will be much harder to reach your audience. But reaching your audience, always have been a big challenge. Besides it all depends from your the targets you would like to achieve with Content (Marketing).

There maybe a Content Shock if you want to reach a very wide audience. If you start delivering “the news” it will be almost impossible without very deep, deep pockets. But even you start with such a wide audience, very soon you will discover niche content maybe attractive for a certain niche audience. To discover this, you may need invest a lot of time, but mainly time (no money). if you will earn back, this very often the question with investments, so nothing new but again you loose your time. The only difference is that it will become more and more difficult to discover niche audiences for niche content.

But when you discover a niche you can build your niche brand. On the other side the big brands (so big companies with deep pockets) need to be always aware to keep their brand big. Big companies need to re-invent themselves more and more often within the transparency and spreed of online marketing. The way to re-invest themselves is start- or buy in niches and grow them to main stream. In this way, the mentioned Content Shock is actually a big chance for smaller companies or single persons, as even the big brands are forced to find (and create) niches. For smaller companies and persons with great flexibility this will be much easier.

Actually Mark Schaefer wrote also a post with arguments against (the existing) of a Content Shock: Six Arguments Against Content Shock and 10 Strategies to Battle Content Shock.

If you would like to use the Content Shock as an opportunity to create niche content or you just want to make your Content Marketing better and easier to earn back, then you may read my following posts:

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