A few weeks back, I was invited to a content marketing conference. As it turned out, one of the speakers was an acclaimed social media expert.

While I was thinking about which portions of his presentation to focus most on, he made my job much easier with this slide which read:

Shocking the landscape with content shock is a good way of driving search traffic and business success.’

I’ll concede, I wasn’t too impressed by what I saw. In fact, I strongly disagreed with the idea of inundating an already inundated market that is regurgitating the same, beaten-to-death, mediocrity.  

I mean, isn’t it a no-brainer that quality takes precedence over quantity?

Well, here’s the thing. Contrary to popular belief, (including my own back then), the answer can be yes or no, or as they famously say:

It depends.

The success of your content marketing strategy to engage your target audience depends on your ability to delight them with value-add content.

But can content shock really be a lifesaver in a landscape that regularly faces information overload?

The Economic Logic of Content Shock

For the uninitiated, the premise of content shock is rooted in the simple principle of demand and supply which was explored brilliantly in a blog post by Mark Schaefer.

He observed that as content supply grows at a burgeoning pace, the cost of vying for the same spot via content will increase correspondingly. When there’s too little or too much of anything, some economic adjustments are inevitable.  

Now from a content marketing standpoint, prices cannot reduce when supply overtakes demand - because we’re already offering much of it absolutely free.

As a result, businesses will actually need to consider paying their audience to access their content.

With an exponential explosion of content supply, this effectively means that many businesses will find this approach of paying their ‘readers to read their content’ unfeasible and eventually, fall by the side.

The Fall and Fall of Organic Reach

Serious content marketers would concur that they’ve been observing signs of an imminent decline in organic reach, for a while now. Facebook deserves special mention here because it is a relevant case in point.


For the majority of organizations, their organic reach on the king of social media has declined precipitously in the past five years due to excessive content. On average, a Facebook user is daily being bombarded with 2500+ stories on their feed.

Resultantly, Facebook inserted an algorithm that blocks out the growing menace of content noise – which naturally includes some credible business content too.

Given that Facebook is falling short of ad space, chances are that the costs of acquiring ad space will also go up.

Due to this decline in organic reach, companies have had to put in more money to augment their content quality and/or to promote it. With the cost of content marketing continuing to soar, businesses will have no option but to find a better way of reaching out.

When More Becomes Better

We know that a website’s domain authority - an indicator of its reach, efficacy and credibility - plays a key role in influencing its success.

In fact, it is one of the most foundational mechanisms incorporated by Google to determine the quantum of search traffic.

A higher score means that Google is more confident of directing search traffic to your website as opposed to your competitor.

Typically, it involves factors like:

  • Age and size of the website in terms of page numbers
  • Content relevance
  • Content consistency
  • Keyword density
  • Time-sensitivity of published content
  • Reputation of websites who you link your content or those who link their content to you

Recently, I developed a content marketing strategy for an upcoming fashion brand and conducted an in-depth analysis of their domain authority.

To my dismay, the picture looked bleaker than I thought. Three of its four key competitors had developed such a large volume of content with such great consistency that they had gained the coveted trust of Google.

For instance, one of these competitors publishes 15 blog posts which get populated several times a month. And guess what, it’s been doing that for the longest time.

So what did they really do?

Good question.

They basically shocked the reader with overwhelming content in their niche.

Was all their content great? Not always.

In fact, all my client’s 4 competitors were engaging in original research, posting blogs regularly and frequently releasing social media posts, case studies, videos and podcasts.

This meant my customer was confronted with a two-fold challenge:

1) Navigating a niche inundated by content (quantity)

2) Navigating a niche inundated by superb content (quality)

Tilting The Tide In Your Favor

When I now revisit the slide from that social media expert, I am inclined to agree with his point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.     

In many ways, that is where the solution lies – saturating the niche with relevant, useful and consistent content – with a healthy mix of quality and quantity.

That could mean uncovering niches (or creating a new one) even in saturated markets where content continues to gain traction.

There are instances where average shares, despite declining in totality, are increasing on a specific channel like LinkedIn which is targeted at certain audiences.

Often a vertical approach is the way to go forward as long as you’re willing to be accessible and generous with information sharing.

For example, there are wagonloads of webinars on content creation & marketing.  Yet, how many of them focus on content marketing for let’s say, connected retailers or IT companies?

The unwillingness of some marketers to deviate from a tried and tested strategy is baffling. Their pattern remains pretty much the same:

Ø Let’s start with a blog post

Ø If that sounds pedantic, let’s do a podcast or video in addition to a blog

Ø Build a presence on social media  

So, what’s the problem in these approaches, you ask?

None whatsoever – expect that it missing the most vital piece in the puzzle – not analyzing the industry’s information density.

In the absence of this information density and a well-crafted strategy to deal with what it leaves you to deal with, businesses are unlikely to get anywhere close to their goals.

Companies cannot compete, let alone win, by imitating their competitors. They need to discover innovative ways of finding hidden vulnerabilities within their respective niches.

Coming back to my own client, what can they possibly do to regain the lost ground? Is content marketing a lost cause?

Far from that!

The beauty of content marketing is that it comes up with the most incisive answers just when you think you’ve hit a dead end.

By adopting an intuitive marketing strategy that accommodates a number of qualitative and quantitative approaches, we were able to challenge their competitors rather successfully:

But that is a story for another day.


Content has transitioned from gaining attention via social, search and promotion to converting that attention into action before your audience gets distracted.

Joining the content creation bandwagon for no rhyme or reason, just because everyone is doing so, is reactive at best.

Sooner or later, you have to be able to allow your unique value proposition to shine through - and compel your audience to take you seriously - which can be done by delivering good quality content.

Equally, it is vital to find crevices within the market to gain a foothold on, and go all guns blazing with a plan that unabashedly involves so much content that it engulfs your audience with not just content shock, but also attention shock.

In practical terms, it means interspersing content shock into your marketing strategy:

In layman terms - use a variety of content creation and distribution formats – blog posts, social media, podcasts, videos, slideshares - add a layer of quantitative and qualitative elements to this content - and eventually get your end reader to sit up and take notice of the creator (distributor) - you.


This post is contributed by Amit Ghosh ~ Guest Contributor

About Author-Amit Ghosh likes to experience and observe everything that life has to present in front of him. Amit has been a full-time professional freelance writer since 2005. With a deep interest in the world and a personal library, he always finds an endless supply of ideas for the wide variety of subject areas that he covers in his articles.He is also a contributing writer at Inc42 and Wikipedia. He can be contacted Via Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. I have just started my career in content writing and this article has helped me understand a different approach to content writing. Thank you so much for the information.

  2. Very appealing concept. ‘Content shock’ seems like a difficult concept
    but you have explained it with so much ease. I liked your concept of
    engaging your target audience with your ability to entice them with
    your creative content.

  3. Nicely written, indeed, working hard and doing it differently can only lead to success in content marketing. looking forward for more such content.

  4. I had no knowledge of content shock and got to learn so much about it. Would definitely look forward to read more such educating posts.

  5. Enjoyed reading this post - it was totally offbeat and indeed it’s not so shocking, but people dont care as much about content marketing these days, which is a sad thing… However, on the other hand, we’ve now got FB ads and other forms of advertising which have kinda replaced the content marketing totally - so it’s totally up to the people to decide what form of advertising to adopt… Have you ever tried PPC or FB Ads at all? Looking at your pointers, it feels like you totally love the organic way, isn’t it?

  6. Good work, I found this really informative and helpful for my content writing, would love to read more such informative posts in future.


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