How much content is too much content?
I am often asked this question (and many like it). From, "how often should I Blog?", "how often should I tweet?" to "how long should a Podcast be?" and "how much time should I spend on Facebook?" Seth Godin often says, "your mileage may vary," (a line I often use and don’t cite back to the source as much as I should) and, as vague of an answer as that it… it’s the perfect answer. Understanding the pulse of your audience is one of the biggest challenges and hurdles those who produce content have to contend with (more on that here: The Pulse Of Your Content). But, there is a bigger issue that seems to be surfacing in many of the Blogs, Twitter feeds and YouTube channels that I frequent. In a world where each and every day many more new (and smart) individuals start publishing content in text, images, audio and video (and those who already do publish content are getting better and better at it), the cluttered world of content in the online channel gets murkier, and those with any semblance of audience are now fighting for attention from more and more content publishers. And as the bar raises, I’m seeing more and more of these individuals publish more frequently. Much more frequently.
Is this just another play on the quality over quantity debate?
I don’t think so. Something tells me that if you asked some of these content producers why they are suddenly producing double the amount of content when compared to their usual publishing practice, it does seem like they’re doing this to "out-publish" the competition. You have to remember: it’s hard to topple a recognized Blogger when they jump from one post a day to two posts daily. But, the ultimate question is this:
"Does publishing more content double your audience or just maintain it?… and to what end?"
There are some raw truths: many of the web analytics tools do look at metrics like frequency, links and overall activity, so if you want to maintain a level of clout on these lists and through these services, simply doubling down is a very strategic move… if you can, ultimately, deliver at the same level of quality that was happening before.
Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
As some of these content producers put out two shorter pieces of content or simply double the amount of content they’re producing, I’m noticing a lack in quality that doesn’t happen fifty percent of the time, but an overall drop in the overall quality of the content… and that’s just sad (and yes, there are also exceptions to this). The only true reason to increase your content production is because you have additional content that is of equal to or greater value than your current publishing pace. Beyond that, because people have less time to pay more attention, doubling your content can wind up being too much for their appetite and hinder your overall brand engagement with them. Meaning, people who are overwhelmed don’t naturally retract to their own pace, they wind up dropping you entirely because they do not like to feel like they are falling behind.
What’s my personal answer?
In recent weeks and through discussions with many of my digital peers who I respect as online publishers, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps Six Pixels of Separation should not even be considered "Blog" anymore. In fact, looking back at why I first started Blogging, it was because I needed an outlet for my words. As a journalist, a platform to publish for free to the world – and one where I can choose what to fill the blank screen with – is what made me most excited (and still does to this day). If I look at the pulse of this Blog, I like to publish articles. Pieces of new journalism. Yes, some of them may appear more op-ed than reporting on a news item, but that’s the flow and pulse I have nurtured (it’s my style and it’s my art). I don’t think I post like most Bloggers do. I’m not looking for short/catchy headlines to grab attention. I’m definitely not good at sourcing a royalty free image to grab your attention, and I grapple with writing short and snappy posts even though those are the ones that drive the most traffic. I publish articles. I like publishing articles, and I recognize that those who follow, read and comment below are probably doing a lot more work/thinking than they are in other online spaces where you can get in and out in 250 words or less or graze through some kind of "top ten list" for tips and tricks. In the end, this doesn’t feel like a Blog anymore. It feels much more like a publishing platform for my articles.
It makes me wonder if the answer to a dilution in attention is not increasing the frequency but decreasing it in some instances? What do you think?