May 27, 2014

Welcome To Show Business

The social media and content development hustlers make it sound so simple.

You develop some "compelling" content or useful information and you apply it to your blog or your Facebook page or your website and interested consumers will soon discover it.

You will create a relationship, and these people will be thankful for your useful contribution to their lives, and they will become active ambassadors for your brand.

Well, that was easy.

Only one problem. The whole thing is an infantile fantasy. Let's look at the facts, according to this website...

There are currently an estimated 14.3 trillion live pages on the web. If my math is correct (a highly unlikely circumstance) and the average person does nothing else in her life but surf the web (no eating, sleeping, working, or picking up firemen at bars) it will take her, on average, about 378 million years to get around to your page of content. It's been my experience that some people are not that patient.

There are 759 million websites. If the average person in the US visits 10 websites a day, it will take over 200,000 years to get around to yours. By the way, do you know how long humans have been around? About 200,000 years.

There are about 48 billion web pages indexed by Google. If a person does nothing in her life but random Google searches (no eating, sleeping, working, or picking up bloggers at the unemployment office) it will take her 91,324 years to find your listing.

There are about 450 million English language blogs active in the world. That is 33% more than there are native English language speakers.

So the bottom line is this. If you are anywhere near average, your chance of breaking through on line is approximately zero. Actually, it is exactly zero.

Consequently, if you are expecting your social media presence or your "content" to be anything other than a dead lox stinking up a dusty corner of the web, you have to be in the entertainment business.

You have to either make people laugh, or cry, or bolt upright. You have to amuse them, shock them, or give them something fabulous for nothing.

If you don't, yours will be the typical online organism -- a lonely, unloved creature conversing with no one but itself.

Think I'm exaggerating? Do a little experiment. Post some unadvertised "content" about your fabulous product today. See what happens.


Anders Bisgaard Madsen said...

No wonder there's such a big market for false likes/views/clicks etc. Great post.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

The exception to this rule of yours is porn. Rules of the Internet seem clear on this point. If you f*** it, they will come. Not that any advertiser would dream of THAT particular content strategy. Otherwise, the world's second oldest profession may very well merge with the world's oldest profession.

Doug Garnett said...

Reminds me of the same problem with content. The idea of making ads that are so entertaining the people will seek them out. (Believe me, I've heard this far, far too many times.)

Except, it's amazing to me that ad creatives haven't really thought about this one. Let's see... What's it take to make a successful sitcom? One in 1000 attempts to create a sitcom ever get a pilot. And out of the pilots, some don't get second showings. Of those that get second showings, most fail first season.

So, something like 1 in 10,000 attempts end up creating something so compelling that it will get a large audience ASSUMING the network publicizes and advertises it extensively?

Yikes... There are far better odds to serve our clients.

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the insight CBD. Now I know why my blog traffic is so low. I just don't have the, um, compelling content.

Richard said...

Google needs to do better than 48bn / 14tn. IMO. That is all that is wrong here.

Emmett said...

Kate Richardson said...

I agree with your sentiment, but your analogy is a bit like saying there are 50 million ads running on TV around the world at anyone time and if the average person didn't do anything except watch ads on TV, then it would take them 100 gazillion years to see all the ads on TV.

The people who were declaring the end to paid media and promoting 'zero' paid media have gone awfully quiet in the last twelve months since it became pretty obvious that the Facebooks of the world are fast becoming media channels like any other. In other words, they demand that brands invest in order to garner eyeballs. Whether the eyeballs translate into anything impactful depends on a few things, not least how compelling the content is.

Some of the biggest opportunities for content are in the B2B space. They're less about making people laugh and cry and more about offering something genuinely useful or helpful. I think Jay Baer said it best, with 'help or hype'. If you're content doesn't do this, you're right it's dust.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Like I said, it's the exception, but a compelling one nonetheless.