A few months ago I read an article by the economist Will Hutton about people in the west reaching the point of ‘peak stuff’. In the article he described how consumer demand for shiny new things seemed to be losing its appeal as we’ve all accumulated so much stuff in recent years that we’re unlikely to ever be able to use. Our kitchen drawers, cupboards, wardrobes, cellars and attics are bulging with stuff that we either bought for ourselves somewhere or perhaps were given at Christmas. Or maybe it was a birthday. Actually, I’m not really sure, it’s just there, unused, in a drawer…
It hit home for me. I recently moved house and had a significant clear-out which involved no less than five trips to the local recycling centre in which I experienced the catharsis that can only be achieved when launching the disembodied parts of a knackered but well-used bed-frame into a huge skip. Western society has finally reached a point where we have admitted we have no room for any more stuff.
More recently, many online experts have begun to agree that we are approaching ‘peak content.’ There is now so much content online, it’s almost impossible to gauge the sheer magnitude of what’s available. The ITunes App Store now has 1.5million apps, and there are about 4billion YouTube video views every day. Companies are creating and publishing thousands of pieces of content every year, and it’s increasing.
But as more and more content is produced, there remains only a finite amount that we can watch, process, and share. A recent Trackmaven research study from February shows that as content creation has increased, our engagement levels have dropped. As content competes for our attention, demand for better quality content increases. There’s too much to consume.
Getting someone to watch a 20 second film on Twitter from start to finish is tough and in this highly competitive market it means that brands can no longer get away with using social just to post a few words about their products or services. Changes to Twitter and Facebook have allowed embedded video, and the surge in popularity of visual media enabled social channels like Instagram and Snapchat have created new opportunities for brand advertising that in the past only television and cinema could provide, but with the added ability to measure engagement through comments, shares and likes.
So, as content creators, what can we do in this competitive environment to make sure we’re creating the kinds of content that people want to see? There are four things that stand out for me. There are more of course, and you may disagree, but I think they’re a good starting point for thinking about a strategy for creating content
- Planning – create a content plan, an editorial calendar (or both)
- Focus on quality not quantity
- People like stories – create content that tells a story about you, your brand or product
- Think about your audience – take time to understand who they are and what they want
And finally, the bit that people sometimes forget before moving onto the next thing – evaluation. Evaluate and measure whether content worked. Did you want your content to do something, change a behaviour, influence thinking, or just encourage traffic to a website? Did it do what you wanted? If not, why not?
If you don’t take this simple step, you might as well just take your shiny new content down to your local recycling centre and launch it into a huge skip.
Ally Mogg, head of news and PR