Shocking: overcoming content shock in the age of content

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Shocking: overcoming content shock in the age of content

There’s no question that content is indeed king. All marketing strategies are based around the creation of content that resonates with your desired audience. The more useful and actionable your content is to them, the faster you will reach your online goals through your site or blog.

However, the looming threat of content shock has stuck a fork in the content road.

This term coined by Mark W. Shaefer that first appeared on {grow} in 2014, defines content shock as, “The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”

The original post gathered hundreds of comments from users torn about the concept.

Some lauded Mark’s boldness.

Authoritative sites like Buffer, Copyblogger, and Social Media Examiner have suffered a drop in traffic over the last few month despite publishing quality posts the sites are known for.

Image: BuzzSumo

“No one would argue these are not great sites, arguably they are actually exemplar sites when it comes to content,” says Steve Rayson in this post at Buzzsumo. “However, they are not immune from content shock.”

Content is dead, long live content, anyone?

Marketers and bloggers can only speculate the reason to explain the drop in traffic.

Wallagher at StartBlogging says “I think they should follow the 80/20 approach. For example – they should put 20 hours in writing the content and 80 hours in marketing that content.”

While this may be true to some site owners, you cannot say the same thing about Buffer, a service that prides itself on helping users promote their content on social media.

From the looks of it, they cannot even save themselves.

“We as a Buffer marketing team—working on a product that helps people succeed in social media—have yet to figure out how to get things working on Facebook (especially), Twitter, Pinterest, and more,” says Kevan Lee in this heartfelt letter at Buffer Blog.

So is the threat of content shock real?

“There is a premium placed on high-quality content now that tactics like the Skyscraper Technique and the creation of evergreen content are helping websites achieve their goals,” says Gareth Bull of Bulldog Digital Marketing. “The priority of online businesses now is to one-up their competitors by publishing much better content on top of promoting them to the right channels. Doing this allows them to deliver their message straight to their audiences.”

However, there are ways in which website owners and bloggers can prevent content shock from occurring.


The creation of unique content will help you separate your online business from the rest.

Tim Fehraydinov raised a very important question at why do most online marketing blogs duplicate each other?


All posts from different sites cover the same topic and even suggest the same tips and advice.

Mary Green explains the practicality of creating the same content as your competitors.

“In the past clients would ask me, why should I share my opinion on this or that, why should I answer FAQs when other sites already do that,” asks Mary. “Simple, you want to provide the answer, on your site. Because regardless of what brings them to your website, you want to keep them there, and give them all of the information they need to make a purchase.

“So, yes it’d be nice to have the greatest content and I hope more sites focus on that, but you need the other content too, and if your competitor is answering everything, guess where your visitor is going if you don’t?”

While this is true, this won’t help you cause in cutting through the noise of content, especially now that content shock is affecting even the most authoritative of sites.

Therefore, content that offers original ideas and thoughts like case studies and upcoming trends are something that content creators need to consider in forming their editorial calendar.

Look no further than Brian Dean at Backlinko, who came up with the Skyscraper Technique. It is a great marketing tactic that lets you harness the power of content to attract links and drive visitors.

Due to its popularity, lots of people are covering this trend on their blog and are even writing case studies themselves!

By publishing content about a revolutionary idea, you can tip the scales to your favor and create the buzz that your site deserves while skipping content shock in the process.


“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

While you do not have to create an epic novel for people to remember your name, you can nonetheless write content that will pack a punch to your audience.

One way of doing this is to craft a compelling story.

By applying different techniques and tactics to tell your story, you can grab the attention of your audience and never let go!

According to James Lush, your content needs to contain five elements, also known as the TRUTH test, to form a compelling narrative.

Referring to these five elements, let us look why Kevan Lee’s post at Buffer mentioned above is a perfect example of storytelling in content.

  • Topical – The article discusses content shock, which is an ongoing trend in the digital marketing industry.
  • Relevant – Part of Buffer’s audience are publishers and content creators, making the post targeted to this segment of your audience.
  • Unusual – Kevan reveals a chink in their armor by admitting that they have lost traffic despite being a brand known to drive lots of traffic to content through social media. This is a very useful and unique angle that will catch the attention of people in the industry.
  • Trouble – The conflict lies in the drop in traffic despite the creation of high-quality content and applying the same effective promotions strategy they have implemented in the past.
  • Human – Building off their revelation, Buffer shows flaws in their services, which is both endearing and empowering from a reader’s standpoint. By admitting your faults and shortcomings, you become more transparent to your audience.

The breakdown shows why the post has garnered thousands of social shares and hundreds of comments from their readers. Interestingly enough, a post about the lack of traffic and social shares got them lots of both!

Wrapping it up

Just like most obstacles, there are solutions to each of them. Content shock calls out website owners and bloggers to smarten up on their content game, and the suggestions featured in this post should help you in the process of building better, shock-proof content.