Study suggests that ‘peak content’ has been reached for brands

TrackMaven’s recent research into the state of content marketing for brands makes for some difficult reading if, like me, you’re planning a content strategy for 2016.

The study looked at the content marketing activity of almost 23,000 brands, covering a staggering 50m pieces of content across six primary channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs.

It turns out that the average brand publishes more than 2,000 pieces of content a year, and if 2015 is anything to go by the tide is rising, as output increased by 35% compared to the previous year.

The response by readers and viewers was huge: there were a total of 75.7bn interactions. That’s truly massive engagement, but average engagement actually decreased by 17%.

It seems that there’s only so much people can actually consume, process and share. As TrackMaven says:

“Despite the fact that engagement continues to fall, brands are hell­bent on content and publishing.”

The chart below shows the widening attention gap, based on the volume of shares on social platforms vs response rates. Note that the engagement ratio is pretty much consistent.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.37.58

In terms of distribution, brands narrowed their focus on Facebook, which was 60% noisier than the previous year. The amount of content published on Twitter also grew, by 31%.

Rich content is a big area of focus for brands. The amount of video posts more than doubled on Instagram, with images not far behind.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.40.08

Meanwhile, Pinterest was highlighted as a platform that appears to be on the wane, with engagement down 49% year on year.

In terms of platforms, Facebook is still king, with organic engagement for brands three times greater than Twitter. Facebook is not immune to noise pollution though, and interactions per post actually dropped by around 15% in 2015.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 11.43.22

It’s not all about reach though. The platform with the least amount of average content shared by brands is LinkedIn, but it has the most consistent engagement ratio (and one that is growing). A sign of quality? Certainly for B2B brands it is a great platform. I’ve previously found that LinkedIn engagement is worth 10 times that of Facebook, in terms of attributed revenue.

Blogs are still highly popular among brands, though content output declined by 16% in 2015. Despite this, social sharing for blog content “held steady.”

Overall, the suggestion seems to be that ‘peak content’ has been reached. TrackMaven said that it is possible to measure the effects of content overload on engagement rates:

“When content output spiked in October 2015, engagement levels took the sharpest downturn. There is a limit to how much content can be consumed, liked, shared, etc, and brands and social networks alike are competing for their share of engagement.”

What do you think? Is it time to turn down the dial a little? Or should brands increase the volume of content being produced to win the output wars?

You can learn more about the future of content at our new two-day digital marketing event Shift, taking place in London on 24 – 25 May 2016. Book your place today.

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