The Content Balancing Act: How to Reach Your Customers Without Spamming Them

Sep 20, 2013

Article ImageWe are inundated with information. In 2002, there were approximately 16.4 million active websites on the internet; Google indexed upwards of 44 billion webpages at the beginning of September 2013.  YouTube now sees 100 hours of content uploaded every minute, as compared to 72 hours a minute in 2012, and 48 hours of content per minute in 2011. Early this spring, there were at least 240 million blogs on the Internet (and that number continues to grow daily), 58 million tweets a day, and LinkedIn surpassed the 225 million user mark this summer.

Some might surmise that the world is drowning in information. "Information Super Highway" is outdated with good reason; "Information Universe" - as its still ever expanding - seems more appropriate. As content providers, it's critical to find a balance between making your presence known on a myriad of channels and spamming already drowning consumers to the point of annoyance (and possible brand detriment). It's also vital that the quality of the content produced doesn't suffer in the race to make it seen.

Henry Nothhaft, chief product officer and co-founder of Trapit, points out that, in a classic case of keeping up with the Joneses, companies are trying to deliver 10 and 20 pieces of content daily just to stay relevant. "With very few exceptions, companies don't have the resources to mass produce the necessary volume of content while maintaining a high standard of quality, so instead they saturate their channels with mediocre content," Nothhaft says. "All that they see is that subpar content receiving a stamp of approval from companies who are essentially telling their audience we are mediocre."

So, how do content providers mass produce and distribute content while maintaining quality? Ahava Leibtag, president of Aha Media Group, a content consulting firm, says that you need to start with a content strategy. "You have to map the customer buying journey to the business objectives and create content that speaks to those goals."

Scott Abel, president of The Content Wrangler, first assumes that by quality content, one implies relevant, concise, well-written content that conforms to grammar, spelling, linguistics, style, and branding rules. "If that's the case," he says, "then what's needed to help ensure quality content is both a repeatable, systematic approach to creating content, well understood rules and guidelines, and authoring tools that enforce or guide authors in the production of content that follows all the rules."

Quality content? Check. Content strategy? Check. Now, how do content creators implement those elements on a myriad of channels without wasting precious marketing dollars on things that don't further their brand?

According to Abel, waste is inevitable in any organization and with any content strategy. That's why there should always be an evaluation process to make sure that the channels you utilize for your content and the effort you put into them works. "Most marketing organizations are riddled with inefficient and outdated manual tasks," Abel says. "Once you automate these, you end up with lots of extra time to innovate. And, you save money. Money you can use to solve other problems."

Nothhaft believes that content curation needs to be an integral part of any content strategy, breaking it down as 80% content creation and 20% content curation.

"However, it's not realistic to think that content creators and marketers have the bandwidth to curate the necessary amount of relevant, high quality, content," Nothhaft says. "For this reason, the importance of automation cannot be stressed enough. What they need is a solution that can automatically curate content that is actually of value for their target audience." That may include Trapit's Content Curation Center, which leverages unique content discovery and user preference learning capabilities drawn from 100,000 expert-vetted sources.

Analysis and automation are viable steps toward balance, but that still leaves distribution. Unfortunately, as Leibtag points out, there are "no magic pills" for figuring out the best channels for distribution, the best times to post or the frequency with which to do so.

"Every brand and organization is totally different, as are their target audiences and what they're trying to get done," Leibtag says, emphasizing (tongue-in-cheek) that one likely needs to pay a consultant to get the answers for his particular organization.

Basically, each brand is effective in different ways, on different platforms, at different times of the days. So, it comes down to finding what works best for your organization to maintain quality while balancing between effective distribution and over-abundance. And that takes observation and, regrettably, time.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)