Summer 2015, when my life was utterly different, I wrote an article about the content marketing supply and demand problem. Podcasts were definitely already a thing in June 2015, but I’d argue in the last five years they have become more of a thing. So, let’s say an average person sleeps 6–8 hours/night. That’s about 16–18 waking hours a day. That is made up of a series of adult responsibilities, sure, but also some opportunities for content. Nowadays, you can seemingly stream any f’n thing you want, plus there’s the aforementioned podcasts, white papers (lol), eBooks (rofl), Reddit, pornography, cable news, books (remember those?), Pandora/Spotify, etc. There’s a lot of content out there. The supply is massive. The demand? It’s static. Bill Gates has the same amount of hours in the day I do. He might read faster — that bastard! — but it’s the same amount of hours and the supply of content keeps going crazy.
Now we’ve got this other problem. Let me give it a title.
The “Everybody In The Pool!” problem
Whenever some major thing happens — pop culture, essentially — lots of crappy brands try to tie “the big thing that happened” to “their crappy product or service.” Let me give you an example.
About six days after Kobe Bryant died, I was driving to Central Market to get some bread. Completely pedestrian mid-week task. On the radio, there is an ad for a bail bondsman — yes — talking about Kobe and the “Mamba Mentality” and how Kobe would be proud of this random dude’s work ethic. Honestly this ad is kind of revolting; it’s the colonization of death in the pursuit of revenue.
But the thing is, everybody does this.
I write a lot about recruiting. Within the last 24 hours, 2–3 people hit me on writing articles related to “How will coronavirus impact recruiting?” The short answer to that question is probably hiring freezes, which is hard to write 1,500 words on. It’s moreso a tweet. But anyway, people love to piggyback. You see this all the time: Game of Thrones finale, Friends coming back, Baby Yoda, coronavirus, Kobe, whatever “the thing” is.
I think the formula is “write a crappy post that ties the two concepts together, hastily assemble an email and a social post, push them out and see what happens.” There’s usually not really a “strategy” here — it’s a plug and play, post and pray formula that you kinda sorta maybe hope works and you get 1–2 leads from it.
In reality, you probably turn more people off than you attract, because listen, no one needs to read an article entitled “How to pick an outsourcing company in the time of a pandemic.” Like, there is no reason to read that. At all. Period. FULL stop.
And when it’s a health issue…
We have lots of issues with misinformation and the decline of expertise as is. Just this morning, there was a news article about fake authors and phony books trying to game the Amazon algorithm system to make money.
When brands jump in the pool to get their crappy content noticed, we create this huge vortex/tornado of digital noise. Now a normal person, who probably isn’t very good at data analysis and information processing as is, has to wade through a bunch of brand takes, a bunch of memes, a bunch of fake news, a bunch of politicized content (“China did it! The neolibs did it!”), and all this other horse manure just to get to actual facts: “Hey, might I die?” or “Hey, might Tom Hanks die?” or “Hey, is it OK to go to the gym?”
Brands make the situation worse because they’re trying to piggyback on content themes that are trending in order to make a buck or two. It’s kind of pathetic.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I probably have to go write an article about SaaS suites being the answer for any pandemic…