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Content Fatigue and How to Avoid It

More than 2 million blog posts alone are published every day.

Every. Day.

And every day, we scroll through Facebook feeds and Twitter feeds and LinkedIn feeds and daily emails and a ton of other news and content sources that bombard us with more stuff than we could read in a lifetime.

It doesn’t stop. And it’s not going to stop—the latest Moz Industry Survey even noted that there has been a 71% year-over-year demand increase for content marketing.

So I can’t say I was surprised when, in his very awesome talk at the 2014 Digital Marketing Summit, SEO expert Rand Fishkin dropped the phrase “content fatigue".

Or, as Sweet Brown would say:

Sweet Brown saying

There are only 24 hours in a day, and we’re getting tired of using it to sift through crap (which makes up about 95% of online content).

In fact, the term “content blindness” is even coming into vogue as internet users begin to treat the millions of branded blog posts, articles, press releases, videos, etc. in the same way they used to treat banner ads—by ignoring them.

However, Google’s emphasis on “superior content” as an SEO ranking factor (not to mention the importance of Authorship) pretty much demands that brands continue to focus on creating content.

So what’s a brand to do?

Buried In Crap.

Content marketing is really, at its heart, a noble marketing device. Search engines like Google are built to allow smaller sites with superior content to triumph over the big, lumbering companies who aren’t as agile or as full of fresh, new ideas. It’s really a lovely system that levels the playing field for smaller companies who are willing to play.

But the problem is that everybody’s playing. And very, very few companies are playing well.

One of my favorite analyses of content marketing was put together by Velocity Partners, and it goes a little something like this:

We're all about to be buried in crap.

So many brands are producing crap: weak content, lame content, robotic content, unoriginal content, content that doesn’t deliver on its promises or expand on its ideas, content that is just plain bad or even wrong.

They’re producing thoughtless content that is not backed by any kind of user research, let alone a strategy or any knowledge of how to write for the web.

How Can I Avoid Content Fatigue?

Not interested in churning out crap? Ready to do this up right? Get ready to enter a world of pain.

Because I like you, and I don’t want to lie to you. The reason so many companies fail at content marketing is that they don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to put in the hard work.

What do I mean by hard work? To do content marketing right, you must do all of the following:

1. Know who you’re writing for.

Creating content without an intimate knowledge of your audience is an act in futility. Do you know what your readers want from you? Find out, then do it. Don’t think about what you want to create—or worse, about what you want to sell. Create content that your audience will want to consume and share. And remember: you are not your audience.

2. Find your niche and become a subject matter expert.

Start small and write what you know. If you own a wooden boat company, write about the delightful minutiae of wooden boats. You won’t have the mass appeal of someone who is writing about Drake, Angelina Jolie, or adorable fluffy kittens, but you’ll attract a dedicated following that’s just as passionate as you are—and you’ll be the authority on the subject.

3. Write strategically.

There needs to be a method to your madness. Create an editorial calendar, do your topic and keyword research, make sure your channels are optimized (e.g., that your blog is optimized for SEO, or that your email marketing platform sends out responsive emails, or that your giant article headlines aren’t being truncated by Twitter), and make sure you have your goal and success metrics established before you let ‘er rip.

4. Write well.

Sure, there’s some truth to the adage that “everyone can write”. Everyone can technically draw, too—just not particularly well. Want to get serious about content marketing? Take the torch away from your intern and pass it to a professional web writer/videographer/photographer/etc. It will be well worth the investment.

5. Follow through.

Content marketing is not a sprint—it’s a marathon that will very likely never end. You can’t just toss out a few articles onto your corporate blog and be “done.” If you are serious about building your brand around great content, then make sure that is exactly what you do.

Stick to your schedule, be persistent, and don’t be afraid to surprise and delight your audience with awesomeness.

Avoiding content fatigue takes time, dedication, and tons of hard work, but I have faith in you. You can do it. Go forth and make the web a better place.