We can safely say that Content Marketing is here to stay. According to the latest research from the Custom Content Council, more marketers are moving their budgets to the creation, management and distribution of content than ever before.
This year, spending on custom content was up to $44B, saw 9.2% YOY growth, and now commands over 39% of marketing budgets.
There is growing concern being voiced by critics of content marketing that with everyone on the content bandwagon, the demands for creating the volume and velocity of content to keep pace with an always-on consumer are increasing such that the quality of content and fidelity of message will ultimately suffer over time.
Put another way, some believe that everyday content marketers don’t have the capacity to create and deliver “high-quality” content of the length and substance that traditional publishers and exceptional content marketers do — and, therefore, they shouldn’t try.
This reminds me of the outdated notion that independent publishers, or professional, ad-supported blogs, couldn’t possibly create content or journalism of a quality that would equal that of traditional publishers. Furthermore, they couldn’t deliver the scale of audience and brand safety that would support brand advertiser campaigns.
Companies like Federated Media, BlogHer, and Glam built highly successful businesses by disproving this. And, publishers like TechCrunch, ArsTechnica, Dooce, Mashable, Business Insider, Gawker, The Awl, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post have shown us that independent content creators are capable of developing audiences that rival traditional publications in terms of influence and scale.
I would posit that this dynamic is no different for content marketers. Content will always find an audience and be amplified if it is good enough. As more businesses begin to think and act as publishers and media companies, it’s important that they consider the appropriate strategies and metrics for efficient content creation.
Length Is Not A Proxy For Quality
One of my favorite quotes from Pascal is, “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter” — suggesting that being concise is more challenging than not. New research from the Fast Company Labs team shows an increase in engagement with extensive topics being covered in a more piecemeal fashion versus as one long-form post.
As content marketers, it is important to be mindful of the length of content – in particular in relation to the medium in which it’s delivered. If anything, Twitter has shown us that a low character count can have just as much impact as a high one, provided there is sufficient density of information in the message. The often-discussed Oreo SuperBowl tweet is a great example of this.
Information Density Can Equal Utility
The latest research released last week by McKinsey shows that mobile platforms command a disproportionately small amount of time-spent for users who are consuming news — about 8% compared to 41% in TV and 35% in newspapers. To my mind, the insight here is not about time spent with legacy platforms vs. new ones – rather, it’s a question of efficiency in information delivery (density) and value to the end user (utility).
Lightweight services that efficiently deliver utility to end users have the capacity to become valuable platforms for content and community while providing deeper engagement. At the same time, metrics such as repeat usage and net promoter scores prove to be much more important than time spent.
A few noteworthy examples of lightweight branded services include AT&T’s MarkTheSpot application, the Nike+ platform, the Pepsi Pulse aggregator, The Content Marketing Institute’s How-To Guides and Urban Daddy’s TheNextMove application.
In the end, the quality of content marketing can be judged by the combined value and effect of the intent of the producer/creator, its utility to the end-user, and the medium through which it is distributed.
Narratives in long-form articles that share knowledge, short-form content that spreads relevant information, or branded services that add-value and deepen relationships with your community are always dependent on their quality of content. This will not necessarily be determined by traditional metrics like character count and time spent, but rather by fulfilling both the wants and needs of your intended audience as well as your brands’ objectives.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.