Some people are calling it Content Shock or Content Clutter. We like to call it the Content Renaissance.
Whatever you call it, many of us have been talking about the same idea: Content is coming to us at an ever increasing rate.
The result is that ideas, trends, and memes have become a swiftly moving current that will easily overwhelm us or leave us behind if we let it.
The Content Renaissance Is Creating an Explosion of Content
We live in an unprecedented age in which we are creating more content than ever before and in which we have more access to information and ideas than ever.
Ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years, according to one study. Google publishes 20 petabytes of information every day, according to Promodo in 2013. To put it in perspective, there have been 5,000 petabytes of information created from the dawn of civilization to 2003. In 2014, WordPress reported that it was publishing 17 posts every second—or 1.5 million posts per day. In that year alone, 72 million websites were created.
And the production of content is still growing. Ninety-two percent of marketers are creating more digital content now than they did two years ago, and 83 percent expect this number to continue to rise, according to Accenture.
If this isn’t overwhelming enough, social networks are accelerating this flow of information still faster. According to Domo, every minute:
Facebook users share almost 2.5 million posts
Twitter users tweet almost 300,000 times
Instagrammers upload almost 220,000 photos
This influx of content carries plenty of upside for individuals and publishers alike. It’s easier than ever to share your gospel. Creatives thrive in this new medium, and businesses are creating engaging new experiences.
However as consumers of this content and as merchants of ideas, the firehose is overwhelming as it is satisfying.
Enter Trend Acceleration
The result of the Content Renaissance is that content has become the currency of change. Ideas are being exchanged, embraced, and evolved at an ever increasing rate.
As a result, while trends used to come and go over the span of years, these days discussions are moving thought leadership at a cadence of months or weeks.
This deeply impacts the way we do business and the way we operate in this world.
For marketers, in particular, it means that the ability to engage consumers with fresh and relevant points of view is a swiftly moving window. The current of new ideas is so fast, that it is easier than ever to attach your brand to something considered more passé.
For PR people, it means a bigger challenge in cutting through the noise with something sharply unique.
For corporations, it means creating products that serve customers in a quickly changing competitive landscape. Small businesses have to move just as quickly with often times fewer resources.
So how do you stay ahead of it?
The key is to identify the right signals and then implement the right workflow to monitor those signals.
1.Recognize the need to monitor for yourself and your company, and dedicate resources to the task.
Monitoring is an art, science, and a process, and above all, it takes time and attention. Recognize that with your daily work or within your business and be deliberate about setting aside time for yourself or people resources within your business to do it well. Have you set aside some time for yourself to crunch through these trends? Do you have the right people on the job? Do you have the right tools in place?
2. Identify the right signals — create the right mix of places and people to follow.
Many algorithms today try to guess what is important to us by predicting future interests based on past behavior. Staying on the cusp, however, requires a proactive, but efficient, way of identifying what the right signals are. A signal is that place from which new ideas and new trends are broadcast.
Identify the most important pieces of news or thinking on the new trend and use those to develop a personalized content mix based on:
Key influencers and thought leaders – Who are the main voices in the articles? Who are the main people they cite? Who are other thinkers in that realm?
Key producers in Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit – Real-time channels can indicate the earliest rumblings of a trend. Find the right people in each of these social networks and add them to your list. Storyful, a company that specializes in newsgathering from social networks, recommends finding relevant content from each of these social channels to get a full picture.
Specific Geographies to keep a pulse on – Is your main industry magazines in New York? Is it a new irrigation system being tried in Venice? Is it human trafficking legislation in San Diego? Consider some local sources in your content mix.
Keywords – Are there buzzwords that show up within the trend you are monitoring? If you are following the Tea Party movement in America, should you be following any mentions of “Sarah Palin,” “immigration,” “gun ownership”?
Here are some great feeds that other people have created to follow the latest trends in a given industry:
Sarah Levine and the most important publications in Maps.
Guy Kawasaki’s Collection of Social Media sources.
Rand Fishkin’s Collection on Inbound Marketing.
Ann Handley’s Collection on Content Marketing.
Hilah Johnson’s Collection on Food YouTube Channels.
Annie Cushing’s Collection on Data Analytics.
3. Centralize these signals into the fewest number of places that allow you to follow these people, publications, and trends most efficiently.
Much of today’s content is on different platforms and requires you to go to it. Flip this around and have this content come to you by creating the right workflow. Focusing in on the workflow will allow you to crunch through the onslaught of content quickly and methodically. We’re a bit biased, but naturally we recommend Feedly as a place for you to house all the blogs, publications, Google Alerts, YouTube feeds, Facebook feeds, and Twitter feeds you are monitoring.
With Feedly, you can create a separate feed for each specific trend, vertical, product, or industry that you are monitoring. With Feedly Pro, you can even use Power Search to search for specific terms within a feed, organized by media type or date.
4. Archive the data points.
Create a methodology for saving and organizing the precious content pieces you find online that speak to the topic you are following. Many people like to use Evernote or Pocket to save articles. We highly recommend using boards within Feedly to save and organize the great pieces of content you want to share with others or return to later.
5. More eyes, better vision: Crowdsource monitoring
The more people who are collaborating together, the better a pulse you will have on trends and the richer your conversations will be around them. Create an internal system through which all employees can contribute important content on new trends and key teams can ingest this information in an organized fashion.
6. Broadcast your interest and join the conversation
The more you can show your interest in a particular conversation the easier it will be to have conversations with the right influencers. Consider taking the content you are monitoring and broadcasting your interest in the vertical via social channels.
What are ways that you and your company have found effective in finding the right signals or organizing them into workflows that are easy to follow?