How much content is too much content when it comes to a brand?
It’s a slippery slope for most brands when it comes to their engines of content creation. We live in a day and age when the term, "content marketing" stumbles out of a brand’s mouth almost as much as "big data" and "native advertising." Woe the brand that is not creating, publishing and curating relevant content. Still, many brands struggle with their digital content. They struggle with everything from the strategy to the editorial content to the creation of it, and even the best places to publish and share it effectively. Many new media pundits will tell you that the brands that are moving the needle are enabling their success by having in-house newsrooms or former journalists on the payroll to help uncover the more interesting stories to tell, and how to get those stories to spread. Regardless, we also live in a day and age when the half-life of content is shorter than ever. In a river of tweets or a flood of a Facebook newsfeed, even the most interesting of content will last a few hours (maybe a day or so… if you’re lucky). This is further complicated by the fundamental nature of social media: which is the place where friends and acquaintances connect and not, necessarily, the ideal place for a brand to try to make some noise.
So, what’s a brand to do?
Gary Vaynerchuk has a platform (or two). He built his initial following by producing an irreverent wine tasting video podcast that he converted into a massive Twitter following (closing in on one million followers), two best-selling business books (Crush It and The Thank You Economy) with a third one on the way (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook), a lucrative speaking career and his ever-growing social media marketing agency, VaynerMedia. He responds to almost all of the inputs he gets (from tweeting to leaving comments on blogs) and created a tiny tempest in a teapot last week by declaring that he plans on, "tripling down” on content – because doubling down doesn’t begin to describe how important he thinks it is," according to the Forbes article, Why Gary Vaynerchuk’s New Social Media Strategy Should Change The Way You Do Business. With that, he has also hired a social media content assistant to help him capture, create and nurture whatever is brewing under those eyebrows to keep the pace increasing. And, that’s where the tempest started brewing. Ford Motor Company‘s global head of social media, Scott Monty, responded with a blog post titled, The Last Thing The World Needs, citing this as more "digital clutter" in a world where individuals are struggling to capture anything and everything they already have in their feeds. What are these poor consumers going to do if every brand follows the Vaynerchuk strategy of tripling down? Will this push consumers to the breaking point? Will this have them running for the virtual doors at Facebook, Vine, Tumblr, Google + and beyond?
In a word: no.
Some will find themselves having an internal dialogue about the classic "quality versus quantity" debate. In rebuttal to the pushback that Vaynerchuk’s comments received, he astutely asks, "why not both?" Why can’t brands create a lot of high quality content? Sure, some of this content will work and some will miss the mark. Not all attempts will result in a viral homerun, but we live in a real-time world, where individuals are increasingly looking for more context from their content. Content providers are going to have to play a very different game. A personal case study comes to mind. On May 21st, I published my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete. Along with a digital experience to compliment the launch of the book, my digital marketing agency, Twist Image, took the interesting stats and data from this experience and created a SlideShare titled, 25+ Mind Blowing Stats About Business Today – CTRL ALT Delete. Instead of simply tweeting and sharing the link throughout my online social spaces, I respectively shared some of the unique stats (which would be akin to Vaynerchuk’s tripling down theory). My impression was that this deluge of content would upset my online community, and that there would be some semblance of negative comments and pushback. Much to my surprise, the SlideShare quickly surpassed 100,000 views, and the amount of new followers and friends coupled with the retweets and shares sent my overall analytics through the roof. Yes, creating what Monty refers to as "digital clutter" seems to have been the most effective strategy to get the word out. How did this happen? People aren’t "on the ready" just because I decided to hit a publish button. The frequency of posting matched with the quality created a greater attention and focus on the message. It’s a tough lesson for new media thinkers to hear: traditional tactics like frequency and repetition work.
What we think vs. what is.
Those who follow Gary Vaynerchuk, respect him. They like him. They seem to want more. By creating more, he is not only appeasing his most heavy users, but he is also giving them (and those who don’t even follow him) additional opportunities to find out more, share his thinking and help him spread his own gospel. Tripling down on mediocre content helps nobody. Tripling down on relevancy, being contextual and adding value will always help a brand to expand its audience. Is this hard to scale? Absolutely. Will every brand get this right? Absolutely not. What Vaynerchuk (and other successful content creators) knows is this: the pulse of his audience. Through the years, the smartest content marketers are the ones who understand not only the pulse of their network, but how to pulse out that content in a way that is congruous with the audience. Vaynerchuk may be gambling by tripling down on his content creation, but while some may rightfully see it as clutter, my guess is that Vaynerchuk (and other successful content creators) will be analyzing the results and tweaking it until they uncover a formula that works better than their old one, which is a million times better than those who have no vision, no formula and are simply worried about the clutter that they’re creating.
What do you think? Is the future of content a tripling down effect?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Harvard Business Review. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here: