“Content is king.”
It’s a familiar adage and one that most marketers know by heart, but in a world where everything from social media and blog posts to whitepapers and video falls under the content umbrella, it raises the question of whether content on its own is truly enough these days.
Nielsen Research shows that Americans, on average, consume 8.5 hours of content per day. Add that number to an average 7 hours of sleep time and, as content marketing expert Mark Schaefer points out, you’re already using up nearly 16 hours of your day. The number of hours we have each day is finite, and with 17 hours already accounted for, Americans are quickly approaching the upper limit for the amount of content that can be consumed in any given day. Yet, the amount of content being pushed out into the world continues to increase…and rapidly.
Knowing that consumers have a finite number of hours available, but more content than ever to sift through means that marketers will need to scrutinize their content under a different lens. Soon, context – not content – will be the all-important factor.
Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk has been quoted time and time again saying, “If content is king, then context is God,” and this thinking will soon become the standard for any professional in the marketing or content industry. As he sees it, there is more content supply than there is demand for it, meaning that the content itself is no longer enough; now, it’s critical to create context around the content that resonates with your key audience and helps them make an informed purchase decision.
It’s a well-known fact that consumers trust the opinions of like-minded consumers more than they trust brand messaging. Bazaarvoice’s own research shows that 44% of millennials are more likely to trust experienced consumers (even if they are strangers) over brands, and they are 3X more likely to use social media to find consumer opinions. Given that, brands and retailers need to prioritize the content their consumers prefer to see – the ratings & reviews, questions, and social posts written by actual consumers sharing their honest opinions – good and bad – on the brand and its products.
When viewing context through that lens, it’s important to consider how a brand can elevate its available consumer-generated content in the right places so that it provides even more value in the consumer’s moment of need. Whether that is accomplished by placing consumer reviews and photos directly on the product page, integrating them in print and online brand advertisements, or including them on product packaging, consumer-generated content (and the context in which it is located) has a critical role to play in today’s consumer shopping journey.
The need for contextually-relevant content becomes even more apparent in the wake of Facebook’s recent announcement that they will be prioritizing posts from friends and family over those of brands within a person’s newsfeed. For many consumers, Facebook is a personal network; a place to connect with friends, family, and coworkers. But for many brands, Facebook has become yet another channel to dump content with little regard as to its value, resulting in an experience that is devoid of any real benefit or enjoyment for the brand or the consumer. By limiting the number of posts a Facebook user sees from any given brand, it forces those brands to funnel content into other channels that may be more contextually relevant, and it will perhaps also encourage brand loyalists to advocate on a brand’s behalf on channels like Facebook, where the most trusted (and now, most visible) content is that which comes from peers.
It’s only a matter of time before the deluge of content as we know it becomes too heavy a burden for consumers to bear, and they will develop filters to help hone in on those pieces of information that truly add something to their brand experience. Rather than wait, brands should start working on the context component now so that when the day comes, they will already be seen as a company that provides quality content and relevant context, and is therefore more highly regarded in the eyes of the consumer.